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.
TONE OF VOICE
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.
Protecting our Children’s Futures
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is centred on the health and wellbeing of children around the world. Their campaigns, programmes and field work operate on a global scale, and QUO is proud to have had a strong and constant relationship with them over the last 20 years; bringing to life some of their most challenging and pioneering projects.
Infographics (information-graphics) are visual elements that express oftentimes complicated information in an effective and easily digestible manner. This creative area of communication has exploded in popularity among organisations and governments for its ability to convey information to people at a glance.
QUO has an extensive portfolio of infographic design and application, and was honoured to be invited by UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) to conduct a series of infographic training classes with their staff. The classes were aimed at teaching how to identify key information that could be turned into visual imagery and how to present this information in the most effective way, building the capacity for UNICEF staff to be able to develop and disseminate key information quickly in-house.
Jumping the Talk, Walking the Walk
As lifestyles have become more sedentary, and the consumption of unhealthy food has increased, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) threaten the health of millions of adults and children. To encourage people to kick-start a fitness regime, the Permanent Mission of Sweden and Jamaica, UNICEF, and other partners led a healthy workout session called #jumpthetalk at the Third United Nations High-level Meeting on NCDs at United Nations Headquarters.
UNICEF worked with QUO to promote the event. The posters, leaflets and banners show children in action, combined with the zigzag of an electrocardiogram readout to remind people that exercise is the best defence against heart disease. #jumpthetalk succeeded in having a multitude of suited officials joining the children and delegates exercising out on the lawn.
Despite the availability of simple and effective treatments, diarrhoea remains a leading killer of children, accounting for 9% of all deaths among children under age 5 worldwide in 2015. These deaths persist often due to a poor sanitation and hygienic practices. To combat this, the UNICEF Pacific office approached QUO to develop a campaign for the Solomon Islands to tackle this issue.
QUO conceptualised the key messages and developed a set of stories that resonate with children, with illustrations designed to be engaging and relevant to the Solomon Islands context. The books tell the story of two handwashing heroes, Soap and Water, following a cast of human characters through country-specific situations to promote the campaign’s chosen message, “Stay Healthy”.
Tackling Inequities in Children’s Health Outcomes
Since 1990, remarkable gains have been made in improving outcomes for children and women. The number of children dying before the age of five years old has almost halved, and similar progress has been made in reducing maternal mortality. However, inequities remain both among and within countries.
To tackle these persisting issues, UNICEF New York Headquarters worked with QUO to create two reports. One on UNICEF’s new health strategy through 2030, and the other on UNICEF’s Health Systems Strengthening Approach. QUO utilised a distinct colour scheme and selection of photos to clearly define each topic. A short synopsis was written and designed to accompany each report, distilling the main findings from the reports into six-page folding brochures.
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
A Multi-agency Partnership
The project was kicked off by a two-day branding workshop in Pakse with key stakeholders from the region including tour operators, travel agents, hotel owners and local government authorities.
Drawing on valuable local insights and additional research, our brand strategy team began to form a compelling brand culture around the region’s intrinsic diversity, serenity, distinct charm and ‘Sabai Sabai’ (relaxed) approach to life. Following a tour of Southern Laos’ most inspirational and iconic sites the team returned to Bangkok to develop the brand essence that would define the destination – ‘Charming by Nature’.
Bringing the Essence to Life
QUO’s creative team drew inspiration from Southern Laos’ expressive personalities, proud traditions and stunning geography to translate the brand essence – which was also adopted as the Southern Laos tagline – into a logo evoking the Lao alphabet’s circular forms with the image of a fisherman in a long-tail boat as well as a compelling visual identity. Clear instruction on how to bring the new identity to life were outlined for the client in detailed visual identity and photography guidelines.
‘Beyond the Ordinary’
To help promote the destination and the new brand, a special Southern Laos destination guide was produced with an introduction to the region, a detailed location guide, and tips and tricks to help travellers to get the most from their experience. The guide, entitled ‘Beyond the Ordinary’, brought the brand’s new visual identity to life, working seamlessly with beautiful imagery from the region’s most iconic attractions.
TONE OF VOICE
‘The Local Expert’
With the visual identity in place, it fell to QUO’s content team to develop a tone of voice that would define how Southern Laos communicates with the world. It developed the voice of a ‘local expert’ who knows the region forwards and backwards and speaks in a direct, confident and knowledgeable manner.
Connecting Southern Laos with the World
As the project began to take shape, it fell to QUO’s digital team to build an interactive, informative website that would do justice to this magical destination. Taking advantage of the stunning beauty of Southern Laos, we opted for a design that focused heavily on large, high-definition images. The site also includes full destination and culture guides, a trip planner, news updates and more.
You can check the website out for yourself right here.
Capturing the Spirit of the Region
The Southern Laos brand was further amplified by an engaging promotional video produced to help potential visitors explore the attractions on offer in the region. The Southern Laos video is an embodiment of the spirit of the region, showing beautiful scenery, the generosity of the local people, and a place ideal for slowing down, living in the moment and enjoying life.
It showcases the jewels of Southern Laos, such as the exotic Four Thousand Islands on the Mekong River, the stunning waterfalls of the Bolaven Plateau, Vat Phou Temple, the shadow puppet theatre and the warm smiles of the locals.
Protecting the Planet
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) works to improve the interface between science and policy on issues of biodiversity and ecosystem services. QUO worked with IPBES to develop their visual identity, and continues to work with them to create materials to communicate the importance of safeguarding our planet and its inhabitants.
An impactful identity
For the the visual identity, QUO developed a series of four motifs to be used in combination with the IPBES logo. These included a fingerprint representing the impact and interaction of biodiversity and humankind, and three additional motifs representing the levels that IPBES addresses in its work: ecosystems, species and genetics.
The IPBES visual identity was very well received by IPBES stakeholders and partners and continues to be successfully used for IPBES events and collateral, including for backdrops, banners, posters and publications.
Assessing the situation
Other projects include the layout of various reports and the production of a series of videos that give an overview of various sectors and strategies being employed by IPBES to highlight key findings and to inform decision-makers about the challenges facing the world today as well as the recommended evidence-backed responses they can take to negate them.
One of the IPBES Work Programme’s major objectives is to produce assessments on biodiversity and ecosystem services at the global and regional levels, as well as assessments addressing relevant thematic issues. To this end, QUO worked with IPBES on the IPBES Assessment Guide, which includes a diagram outlining the steps in the process of producing an assessment, from the selection of the topic and team of experts, through to peer reviews and revisions, and finally to the Plenary’s approval.
Policy in motion
Global reach on a global scale
QUO recently completed a number of videos for the launch of the Global Assessment report. These included animated videos for social media, as well as a selection of high-quality images and video clips to be used to present the report’s findings.
Global response to the assessment was overwhelming, with support from multiple governments, UN agencies and experts in the field. The social media response was exceptionally strong, with one of QUO’s animated videos accruing just under 500,000 views on Twitter alone within the space of two days through multiple uploads and shares from various organisations and actors around the world.