Giant Sealy stretches —and wakes up the industry

For the past year, we’ve been working on a complicated, many-faceted brand refresh for Sealy — part of the world’s largest mattress manufacturer, Tempur Sealy International.

It involved a major rethinking and overhaul of the entire structure of their product line, brand architecture and marketing presentation.

On January 20, at the enormous Las Vegas Market trade show, the company announced the update and revealed the new line to stellar industry reaction. The brand was re-energized — and so were Sealy’s own sales staff and their national retail customers. The excited response was universally positive. We’re relieved (whew!) and delighted!

FreeAssociates was involved from the earliest stages, meeting with the brand experience team and brand managers, sales execs, product designers, ad agency and strategists to help define the brand, clarify its position, and craft its messaging.

Dozens of concepts were floated and vetted, tested and refined, through a grueling but thorough process that left no stone unturned. Over many months the design vocabulary was established and tweaked, until a powerful, unified evolution of the brand emerged.

Under the watchful eyes and thoughtful leadership of Director of Brand Experience Karl Myers and his Senior Manager Jonah Nelson, we crafted a comprehensive new branding system.

FreeAssociates has developed a refined version of the logo, color palette, the master brand style guide, point of sale displays and materials, product labeling, a feature icon system, sales guide, product guide, trade show campaign graphics and all the displays and information graphics for Sealy’s 14,000 s.f. permanent showroom at Las Vegas Market (interior designed by Jhipo Hong).

We’re truly grateful to be working with this talented Sealy team and to have an opportunity to help affect the course of their venerable 130-year-old brand.

For the full story, take a look at this article in Furniture World.

An abstract approach to brand identity

Green Hasson Janks folder with reflections

Varnished surfaces add surprise to this corporate presentation piece.

We recently finished a presentation kit for the Los Angeles-based accountants and business advisors Green Hasson Janks. Ordinarily a folder isn’t something I’d crow about. But this one’s really special.

Designed as a container for new business presentations, it features an unexpected twist on the firm’s key graphic element — a bold ampersand with an upward arrow known in the firm as the Uppersand. It’s their symbol of collaboration and is featured prominently in all their marketing materials and advertising. (More on that next week.)

We deconstructed the symbol, overlaying copies of it to create beautiful abstract shapes where the solid portions overlap. As you open the folder, these shapes resolve into the actual ampersand which is fully revealed on the three-panel interior.

GHJ Folder animationThe effect is enhanced by the overall velvety matte aqueous coating which plays against the mirror-gloss finish of spot UV varnish. That high shine reveals the full ampersand as the abstract graphic elements merge. This coming together to create a powerful whole is, of course, the whole point. It’s a message that’s subtly alluded to by our visuals, and strongly stated in the text.

Kudos to our senior designer Kevin Consales for this beautiful concept, to ColorNet Press for the meticulous execution, and to Green Hasson Janks for the courage to try something powerfully different as an expression of their brand identity.

New FreeAssociates site

Come on down! We’ve launched our new and improved website today. And we’d love to share it with you.

We invite your comments and suggestions. Thanks for your interest, your support and your friendship. We can’t do this without you.

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Blumark leaps into existence

It’s Leap Day, the perfect timing for our client Blumark to officially launch their brand new financial advisory firm. To celebrate, they’re holding an open house at their offices in the metro Detroit area (Rochester Hills) and on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in Sault St. Marie.

Blumark launch email image

We designed an email and direct mail campaign to let folks know about the company’s formation and their open house event. (You might recognize the brand identity from an earlier post. )

For the launch, Blumark is offering a big discount on tax preparation, and is raising money for local charities while they’re at it. They have a deeply experienced and energetic team. If you’re in the Detroit area, look them up!

Bands really should play in unison

The music program at Santa Monica High School (known affectionately as Samohi) is legendary. Last year, their Jazz Band swept the national high school competition at Berklee School of Music in Boston, blowing away some 300 other schools. Listening to them play is astonishing. All the various bands — jazz, marching and concert — are near-professional quality, and performances are always a treat.

Robb Brown, who tirelessly volunteers in support of the program, and whose son Eli is a stellar trumpet player, asked me to create a system of logos that would unify all three bands under the aegis of their parent program, yet still give each its own unique identity. The new visuals had to work on t-shirts and signs, as well as print materials and websites.

Here are the four new logos, each with its own sensibility, yet with elements — shapes and, especially, the school’s own blue and gold color scheme — that pull them together under one umbrella.

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