A professionally designed identity will establish credibility in markets where perception is an issue.

Some markets tend to attract negative perceptions more than others. Serious enterprises need serious identities to convince the market that they mean business.

Key IssuesResults
  • New business must put its marker down from the outset
  • An identity to distinguish the company from competitors
  • A need to build credibility in the market place
  • Increased confidence
  • Superior identity to competitors
  • Greater presence in the market place


Business: Brookings Limited
Design Company: Painter Ink
Business Type: Overseas Property Agents
Employees: 3
Founded: 2004
> Download as pdf


Business Background


Tracy and Simon Mansfield both share a love of travel, architecture and business. So it seemed natural that when they decided to look for a new challenge, the overseas property market provided an ideal opportunity.

Their decision was further spurred on by the current state of property investment returns and pensions in the UK.

“More and more people are looking to invest for their futures in different ways. Overseas property is fast gathering momentum in this respect as it provides a relatively low-risk, potentially high-return option compared to more traditional methods. It’s also a lot more fun!”

Teaming up with an agent and builder, in September 2004 they launched Brookings Limited and set about building a portfolio of property throughout Europe and the USA.

Identifying the need for design


Looking at the market place, they both realised they could do a lot better than many existing companies but also that it was a market riddled with public preconceptions about its integrity – some of it not wholly unfounded.

If they were to convince investors of their dedication to professionalism, it was only too apparent they would have to look right in every aspect.

It’s also quite a crowded market place with many companies vying for the attention of a growing number of potential customers. Standing out was a definate prerequisite.

For Simon, the solution was clear.


“Having worked in the city, I had experienced what a positive effect a good identity can have on a company’s success.


Design Management


Simon attended a workshop for start-ups, being run by Business Link for Essex, aimed at showing businesses such as theirs how they can manage design to help achieve their aims, going through the basic issues that a start up company
faces in developing an identity and communicating it.

Using the following processes, they were able to move towards obtaining an appropriate identity.

“they just seemed to understand what we were doing” notes Simon."

  • Develop an outline design brief
    He was asked to write out a brief for a designer, explaining the business strategy and how this should be expressed in the design.
  • One-to-one with Design Management Adviser
    The brief was developed with the Adviser challenging Simon to consider the wider issues of the business identifying those elements that would inspire the designer.
  • Meet the designers
    Simon took the opportunity to meet with several designers, reviewing their portfolios and assesing their suitability for
    the work. From this part of the process, they were able to identify Painter Ink as the company to develop the Brookings identity.

The rationale


The designer’s first step was to create a “mood-board” – images of various things, shapes, patterns, colours, etc, that he felt related to their business, and homed in on a photograph of the inside of a dome in a Venetian cathedral. It’s ornate mosaic somehow combined simplicity with a rock-solid feel to the whole structure.

From this basis Graham of Painter Ink set about creating the identity.

The Venetian dome theme had been converted into a simple line drawing that would feature as the logo across all media, combined with a simple column to make a “b”.

The choice of colours was crucial. Essentially, the designer is involved in supporting the client in one of the largest financial commitments they will make, so he was keen to avoid using tones that would suggest anything other than confidence and security. A range of earthy, natural colours were used with each geographic area being allocated
it’s own colour.

To further enhance the financial feel to the identity, it was decided wherever possible to avoid using images of buildings on stationery items, instead concentrating on typography and graphics.

The result is a highly polished, professional image – exactly what Brookings were after.

The results

Tracy and Simon are delighted with their new identity.

Since using the design in a number of small advertisements, other larger advertisers have courted them, based principally on the quality of their design image.

The company was launched in January 2005 and with the new identity is place, they are sure to make their mark.

Proof once again, that professional design is the keystone of the foundation for all successful businesses.

They SayWe Say
Put a lot of time into the brief This will pay huge dividends as it forces you to think a lot deeper about what you are doing and where you want to be, as well as providing all the required information the designer needs to develop an identity that works on all levels.
Evaluate the designer - "avoid friends of a friend" Very good advice. Your identity is going to be part of your life so you need to have confidence in those you entrust with it. Contacts through friends are all very well but if it goes wrong – it’s not just a professional relationship that suffers.

Don't expect super-smooth presentations. Choose designers on their work and the chemistry that exists between you.


It’s no secret that the marketing communications industry (which designers form part of) can sell everybody else’s product but not their own. Experience and portfolios should be the starting point but you need to know the stories behind their previous work. Then ask yourself “can this relationship work – is the chemistry right? - do they understand what we are trying to achieve?”

Please update your Flash Player to view content.