A Vancouver-based company that imports luxury stone bathroom fixtures for residential and commercial projects in the Lower Mainland.
Branding a new company is all about first impressions. You haven’t built a reputation yet, so you need to be fairly direct in telling your audience what you’re all about.
Like many luxury brands, the cornerstone of Igneo’s brand is the name. It had to be short, memorable, and fairly easy to spell and pronounce. It also had to be available in a trademark search, have a good website domain, and most importantly, have some meaning behind it.
In generating name ideas with the client, we were finding a lot of little sparks of ideas in Latin words related to stone, water and baths, so we focused there until we hit on a name that ticked most of the boxes: Igneo. Neo for new, and igneo from igneous, one of the three main types of stone. And, since Igneo is not a real word in English or Latin, it’s easier to own.
The value of a luxury brand is in the name, so it’s fitting that they are often represented by only a wordmark — a logo consisting of only the name.
Typography is the visual representation of words. Most often it’s used as a neutral tool that doesn’t get in the way of the message, but type can also be designed to express feelings and ideas. We wanted to design the wordmark to subtly, or perhaps even overtly, communicate core ideas about the Igneo brand:
Igneo products are made from stone, carved by the hands of skilled artisans. Every piece is unique.
The roots of our Latin alphabet go back to letters carved in stone in ancient Rome. No surviving example of this is more famous and influential than Trajan’s Column, which displays our modern uppercase alphabet, virtually the same as we know it today.
In the 16th century, the early years of the printing press, Roman typefaces were based on Roman calligraphy, which was in turn based on the stone engraved Roman lettering style shown above.
One of the big developments in the intervening 1,400 years was lowercase letters. This is where we began to see some personality and uniqueness in the shape of the word Igneo.
Now, not everyone knows the stone origins of our alphabet, so this style on its own isn’t enough to communicate anything about stone. I searched for a font with letters that hinted more strongly at the idea of stone, and found a few that were interesting, but not great.
A selection of typefaces that make a visual connection to stone carving
The stone idea isn’t as clear as it could be, and only the lower right style comes close to having the right feel for a high-quality, luxury brand.
So, in the end, my solution was to draw a custom lettering style from scratch to make a much stronger visual connection with the idea of carved stone…
Naturally, I began with the first letter, the capital I. It’s the simplest form in the alphabet – just a vertical line – so it was challenging to give it a distinctive look. I played around with designing it to look a bit like a stone column, but that still wasn't distinct enough. The thought of tilting the upper terminal arose for a second but was knocked down immediately because that would make it a lowercase L, obviously! Wait, but not if I keep the upper-right serif. Bingo!
The remaining letters are much more complex, but with a consistent style that clearly references the balance between nature and man-made that is at the heart of all stonework. A mix of straight lines and natural curves makes the lettering look expertly chiseled from stone. It’s a highly unique design, making it hard to forget once you’ve seen it.
A visual identity begins with a logo, but encompasses all visual aspects of how a brand communicates with its audience, including colour, typography, and imagery.
Igneo is a new brand, so we had to recognise that the name alone doesn’t say a lot. We expanded the logo to include an optional byline that would be used in most applications, for now. It comes in two formats.
The typeface for the “Handcrafted Bathroom Stoneworks” byline is Walleye by Chuck Masterson. It has similar style to the Igneo wordmark, with a rustic mix of natural curves and straight lines, but restrained enough to read comfortably in paragraph text. It’s also free, and available in regular and bold weights, plus italics – making it a great choice for a small company that’s just beginning to define its visual identity.
Igneo’s visual style will be developed as the company progresses, but to get things started we’ve also built a preliminary colour palette and some sample applications of the logo.
Naming, logo & visual identity: Justin Penner
Type: Walleye by Chuck Masterson