Jo Gra­ham Con­sult­ing and Stu­dio Sutherl& ex­plain how they breathed new life into a 226-year-old footwear brand

Computer Arts - - Contents -

Jo Gra­ham Con­sult­ing and Stu­dio Sutherl& on breath­ing new life into a 226-year-old footwear brand


Be­lieved to be Bri­tain’s old­est shoe­mak­ers, Start-rite is a fam­ily busi­ness that was es­tab­lished by James Smith in Nor­wich in 1792. It be­came well known dur­ing the 20th cen­tury for sup­ply­ing shoes to the Royal Fam­ily, as well as for its iconic posters, with the tagline ‘Chil­dren’s shoes have far to go’.

In 2016, Start-rite ap­pointed Ian Wat­son as its first non-fam­ily CEO. I’d con­sulted for one of Ian’s pre­vi­ous busi­nesses, and he got in touch. Af­ter a strate­gic re­view of the busi­ness, we iden­ti­fied the need for Start-rite to re­de­fine its rel­e­vance for to­day’s fam­i­lies.

The 226-year-old brand is known for hav­ing pi­o­neered the de­vel­op­ment of fit­ted shoes, to con­form to the unique and chang­ing shape of chil­dren’s feet. But to­day’s land­scape is very dif­fer­ent, from life­styles and en­vi­ron­ments to ma­te­ri­als and man­u­fac­tur­ing meth­ods.

To make the brand rel­e­vant for a new gen­er­a­tion of fam­i­lies, we needed to build on Start-rite’s ex­pert un­der­stand­ing of feet, and look to the ways kids live and move to­day. This sub­tle but fun­da­men­tal shift helped us to clearly de­fine the brand’s new cen­tre of grav­ity. We wanted to go beyond ‘shoes that fit the foot’ to ‘shoes that fit the child’.

The brand cre­ates shoes that help ev­ery child move their own way; what­ever their age, what­ever the oc­ca­sion. We wanted to drive this new brand pur­pose through ev­ery touch­point – from busi­ness cul­ture to prod­uct strat­egy – and of course, the brand iden­tity.


We held fo­cus groups, car­ried out on­line quan­ti­ta­tive re­search with thou­sands of par­ents, and con­ducted ethno­graphic stud­ies, where we lit­er­ally fol­lowed fam­i­lies over sev­eral days. We also con­sulted with in­ter­nal stake­hold­ers and re­tail­ers. From a design per­spec­tive, we looked specif­i­cally at brands aimed at chil­dren, to try and un­der­stand how to ‘speak’ to them.

The brief for Stu­dio Sutherl& was to in­ject a spirit of ex­plo­ration and dis­cov­ery into the brand. Core to the chal­lenge was strik­ing the right bal­ance be­tween em­brac­ing the new and be­ing re­spect­ful to the eq­uity built up over more than two cen­turies.

Stu­dio Sutherl& was re­spon­si­ble for the over­ar­ch­ing iden­tity and cre­ative di­rec­tion, work­ing with Jo Gra­ham Con­sult­ing on com­mu­ni­ca­tion ideas – such as films, dig­i­tal ads, brochures, and all copy – and rolling out the new tone of voice along­side the iden­tity.


We started with the most iconic part of the vis­ual iden­tity: the twins. Th­ese were prob­lem­atic in their cur­rent form. They re­pro­duced badly, they’d been badly re­drawn over time, and they also looked awk­ward mov­ing away.

We de­cided to make them move left to right, in a much sim­pler sil­hou­ette. The iconic char­ac­ters were beau­ti­fully re­drawn by Re­becca Suther­land, who has worked on a num­ber

of chil­dren’s projects and books. She lit­er­ally drew hun­dreds of vari­a­tions of the twins for us to re­view and dis­cuss.

We also wanted to set the twins free, out­side of the lo­go­type it­self, to go ex­plor­ing. So we al­lowed them to wan­der off the signs, off the email footer, around a gi­ant ‘S’, and so on.

This then left us with the word­mark, to which I wanted add some per­son­al­ity and charm. When I started to see that we had a pair of ‘R’s to play with – a pair of ‘ty­po­graphic twins’ – was the mo­ment it all started to work to­gether.


Hon­ing the iden­tity was about mak­ing sure we had all of the small de­tails right, for ex­am­ple, by mak­ing the ‘1792’ date the hy­phen, in­stead of a sep­a­rate el­e­ment. Many of th­ese de­ci­sions were about sim­pli­fi­ca­tion and strip­ping var­i­ous el­e­ments down to a min­i­mum.

Once we had the walk­ing ‘R’s, it was ob­vi­ous we could turn this into a head­line font, which we called ‘Type­feet’. The key then was work­ing out which let­ters worked as char­ac­ters with feet, and which we should leave sim­pler.

It’s so lovely how adding serif feet to some char­ac­ters – the ‘A’, ‘X’, and es­pe­cially the ‘4’ – com­pletely trans­forms them into lit­tle peo­ple walk­ing, stand­ing and run­ning around. But it was im­por­tant to use this tech­nique ju­di­ciously. So we lim­ited it to only two char­ac­ters per head­line ideally. We then drew up ‘TypeSan­sFeet’ to work with the main font.

It was im­por­tant to us that the lo­go­types and symbols would ren­der at small sizes, so that all el­e­ments would ap­pear clearly on a rub­ber sole, or an in­sole screen­printed small – not to men­tion any­where in the dig­i­tal world.

We ini­tially did work with Jay Din­gle an­i­mat­ing the lo­go­type and the Type­feet face, and then we de­vel­oped this with Shoot Me­dia as we put the film to­gether (see A Step Ahead on page 85 for more on the mak­ing of the film). You only have to tap the feet to re­ally bring the ty­po­graphic char­ac­ters to life. As with most design, it took a lot of work and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion in or­der to make the end prod­uct look sim­ple.

01 01-02 03 Start-rite is known for its clas­sic posters, which were on the Un­der­ground in the ’30s and ’40s. Stu­dio Sutherl& wanted to har­ness their sense of ex­plo­ration while bring­ing the look up to date. The twins’ spirit of ad­ven­ture has been...




04-05 06 07-08 The sim­pli­fied design of the char­ac­ters has made them much eas­ier to ap­ply to a range of pack­ag­ing, such as shoe­boxes. The team cre­ated a be­spoke type­face, called Type­feet, which fea­tures tiny ser­ifs that are rem­i­nis­cent of kids’...



Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.