How we Branded ‘Freedom’
What is freedom? Is it something you can buy, or brand?
These questions and more arose when we began our branding journey with The Nautilus, a new Maldivian project aimed at ultra-high net worth individuals. Looking to create a stand-out brand for their intimate, untouched island in Baa Atoll, The Nautilus needed an identity that truly offered something of elusive and undisputed value to people who ‘have it all’.
QUO was tasked with not only creating a brand strategy and culture for The Nautilus, but also a distinctive visual identity, a brand voice, all kinds of collateral, a website, and a brand video shot on The Nautilus’ idyllic Maldivian island.
But first we had to ask: what is the most precious commodity of all?
Tone of Voice
The answer? Time.
Time is the one thing money can’t buy. But on a private island in the Maldives, why address time at all? This was central to the brand positioning created by QUO, as we completely stripped the concept of time away from The Nautilus experience to create an immensely private resort where a whimsically bohemian attitude allows guests to do what they want, when they want. The Nautilus emerged as a sophisticated refuge affording guests the freedom to enjoy life’s elusive elemental pleasures, namely the ability to simply be.
Breathing Life into an Empty Shell
The Nautilus, having come to QUO with a name in place, needed a visual identity that flew in the face of expectation. While the resort hardware itself would have echoes of a nautilus shape, the designers and strategists at QUO didn’t think it would position the brand correctly to utilise the shell shape overtly through its corporate identity.
Instead, we crafted a logo that would breathe bohemian sophistication into The Nautilus and its collateral, one that would resonate with both its luxurious side and its more free-wheeling spirit of liberation.
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A Modern Bohemian
The voice created for The Nautilus does not shy away from its poetic side. Unafraid to ponder aloud, it sets a philosophical mood with provocative questions peppered throughout the prose. It also ‘paints with words’ to create a sense of intrigue and invite readers into a world without inhibitions—a world of their own making.
What is Your Greatest Freedom?
Before The Nautilus opened, QUO crafted a microsite using a different approach to recreating the guest journey with visuals that reflected The Nautilus’ bohemian-but-sophisticated essence. All of QUO’s departments were involved in the creation of the initial site map, integration strategy, design, content and digital direction to create a fully immersive user experience. Based on the key experiences offered by the resort, its whimsical tone laid the groundwork for the full The Nautilus website, which was released after the resort’s opening.
No Ordinary Brochure
The Nautilus was never going to have a normal hotel brochure. The 32-page book was Chinese-bound, providing more flexibility with printing, and allowing us to add a twine binding around the outside of the cover, in keeping with the bohemian style of the visual identity.
A Place Beyond Time
Finally, to fully capture The Nautilus guest experience, the QUO video team went on-site to film a brand video. Outlining the resort’s aim of letting guests escape the bounds of time, we sourced models and travelled with them to the resort to craft a two-minute story about the resort’s offerings amidst the stunning scenery of the Maldives.
JAZ IN THE CITY
Creating a Hip Urban Hotel Brand
Jaz in the City is one of our most vibrant brands, and one that has stayed true to its original vision through every touchpoint as it has grown from the original hotel in Amsterdam with new properties across Europe and beyond.
It all started when parent group Deutsche Hospitality (then Steigenberger Hotel Group) approached us back in 2014 to create a distinctive, experience-led brand that would help them expand the existing Jaz portfolio (already established as a luxury resort brand in Egypt) into Europe in a way that made sense.
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Getting into the Groove
After lots of collaboration with Deutsche Hospitality, QUO’s strategy team came up with the “In tune, but offbeat” Jaz in the City, an experiential brand that promised to sync global travellers with the rhythm of the locale. Borrowing heavily from jazz culture – because you should never look a gift horse in the mouth! – the resultant brand celebrates art and music, and uses improvisation to stay fresh and ‘tuned in’.
A Universal Beat
Jaz already had a name and a logo, which was pure letterform with Arabian-style serifs. We took it and modernised it by separating its cursive letters to improve legibility and accessibility. For the colour, black was out – only royal purple would do, to give Jaz a luxurious feel.
‘In the City’ was used as a descriptor, to differentiate properties from their Egyptian cousins. The logo works both without the descriptor and with the property location, as pictured. A secondary colour of orange – or oranje, if you prefer – was used to reflect Jaz Amsterdam’s Dutch pride.
TONE OF VOICE
Night at the Improv
How would you expect Jaz to speak? A jazzy tone suited the brand perfectly, but to keep it rooted in the now, its wordplay, rhythm and rhyme was injected with a cheeky sass – the confidence of a truly in-the-know local. To provide a sense of place, and to be truly improvisational, the voice incorporates local slang and sayings.
Keepin’ it Cool
There was no place for tired old stationery and boring ‘do not disturb’ signs at Jaz. Amenities invite guests to “Make your Jaz hands sparkle” (soap) and “Clean up your act” (shower gel). All around the hotel, the brand voice works together with the rich royal purple for a brand experience that hits every note. Even in longer form, Jaz copy’s got that swing.
Lights, Camera, Jaz!
The brand video for Jaz posed a problem we often have: what do you feature in a video if there’s no product? The answer is either stock footage or animation, so we went with the former to convey Jaz’s dedication to the locale. Using footage of Amsterdam cut together with ‘improv’ takes and a jazzy saxophone-led soundtrack, the result is fun, quirky and a little offbeat, with text on screen to help pull all the traits together.
See the brand in action by checking out Jaz on the web here.
Evolution and Equality
The International Labour Organization (ILO) and QUO have worked closely together to bring many important topics to the attention of governments, employer and employee organizations, and civil society and non-governmental organizations. This includes early work on ILO projects in Cambodia, visual identity and video work the Asian Decent Work Decade, and, more recently, the ILO exhibition for the Asia Regional meeting.
Automation in ASEAN
In 2016, QUO worked with ILO on a series of reports seeking to answer the question: Will machines cause mass unemployment in ASEAN? This series, collectively entitled ASEAN in Transformation, incorporated findings from 6,800+ surveys, 330+ interviews, 13 company site visits and six expert consultations to identify which ASEAN occupations and sectors are at the highest and lowest risks of automation, and to address the challenges and opportunities facing five prominent sectors.
Helping to coordinate the project’s rigour and breadth, QUO took on design and editorial responsibilities to establish a unique visual identity and to clearly communicate a sense of urgency to non-specialised readers. In addition to the full report, QUO developed a series of relevant infographics and a high-impact presentation for use in workshops, symposiums and conferences.
Women in Management
Evidence shows that gender diversity at decision-making levels of business improves organizational performance and increases profitability. Yet as the level of management increases, the share of women’s employment decreases. Why is it that women are not reaching top-level positions despite their proven ability and effectiveness?
QUO and ILO worked together to create a clear and simple executive summary, an infographic diagram, and an informative and punchy animated video for social media that presents the situation and the issues women are facing that prevent them from reaching their potential. The video makes use of dynamic and colourful animation, keeping it engaging and approachable while discussing this complex topic.
Fragile Zones and the Private Sector
During times of war and natural disasters, how can actors minimise destruction, maintain normalcy and restore economies? To answer this question, ILO commissioned several studies on ‘fragile zones’, examining the role of employers and business membership organisations in peacekeeping and recovery projects, focusing on numerous countries across Southeast Asia.
QUO was commissioned to prepare a master report and three standalone reports on Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Myanmar. The reports convey the ILO’s key messages, which emphasise peace, resilience and healing. Blueprint visuals were used to convey an ethos of progress and construction, and silhouettes of humans from all walks of life were used to highlight the imperative of peaceful cooperation for all.
Branding an Enchanting Destination
With a wealth of natural, cultural and historical attractions, Southern Laos is an ideal destination for tourists searching for an enchanting getaway. But until very recently Southern Laos was relatively undiscovered, often overshadowed by neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, and other regional attractions.
Looking to bring this magical destination to the wider world, Swisscontact, an independent foundation for international development cooperation, brought together a coalition of public, private and civil society in 2015 to help create income and job opportunities for the local population through a more competitive tourism sector.
As part of this effort, QUO was appointed to create a fresh destination brand that would reflect the region’s diversity and the life-changing new experiences to be found there.
Tone of Voice