What inspired the colour palette?
Stefan: EDP's original identity was red and, as they has considerable equity in it as well as were the only major player in Portugal who used red extensively, it seemed sensible to stick with it.
What was in the original brief? How detailed was it?
Stefan: Originally, we explored why a change was necessary in the first place. The main reasons given, ie. enormous structural change within the company that should be reflected in its communications and a new, international outlook that made the existing 'smile' logo problematic because similar visual strategies were used by other international brands, were solid and made sense. Over numerous meetings we worked hard to create a very, very short list of brand attributes together with the client: Flexible, open, innovative. The identity system we wound up with is clearly flexible, it can transform into all different forms and shapes while still speaking clearly in a single language. It is open and transparent, not just in its formal layering of lucent layers, but also conceptually in its open ended possibilities and conversion into a complete design language. It is innovative in its avoidance of rubber stamping all of its materials. It reflects EDP's values of always customizing its solutions.
There seems to be a lot of interactive, and motion graphics applications for the identity. How come?
Stefan: As Portugal's main utility EDP's digital presence plays an enormous role. They are also an avid sponsor of cultural events, and interactive projected versions of the identity for such events seem very appropriate.
Did the client undertake any research?
Stefan: Yes, they had commissioned a study on how their brand as well as their competition is seen within Portugal.
Did you show your client more than one design solution? If so, can we see any of the other designs?
Stefan: Of course internally we tried out a numerous directions but we presented just one to the client. I have always thought that showing many directions to the client displays incredible laziness on the part of the design/branding house: Nothing is easier than presenting two or three dozen solutions (which often are half baked by necessity) and forcing the client to pick and chose.
Can you tell us about the creative process working with EDP?
Stefan: I went to Portugal and talked to many major players within EDP. We worked all very hard on this, with every phase of the project taking up lots of our attention, passion and energy. The goal was to visualize energy – the main product of EDP – and simultaneously capture the energy of the company and its people.
Describe one experience creating a flexible identity for a client.
Stefan: I have long thought that sameness in branding is overrated. There are situations where a static logo makes sense, specially when used as a quality mark, but there are many other instances where a more varied approach turns out to be superior. Flexible identities need:
1. A client that utilizes many, many brand applications and an attentive audience that will be able to see a wide variety of these applications on a regular basis.
2. Thinking designers also at the level of implementation. Its important good people are involved on all levels.
Why is it important to make design that encourages others to participate?
Stefan: When communicating anything, participation of the people we talk to is clearly a good strategy. If we can involve them, they will remember what we have to say.
You are very selective about your clients. Why did you accept the EDP challenge?
Stefan: Because EDP provides a very worth while product and service. Because I think design can actually help to provide this service better. Because they are nice people. Because they had a reasonable timeline and budget.
Can you tell me more about what your views are on the importance of branding?
Most international branding agencies overrate their power and influence by a magnitude. As much as they would like to insist otherwise, in everyday life their work has a small impact on the actual service or product their clients provide or manufacture. But by far the biggest impact on the perception of a brand is the quality of that service or product. There are a couple of exceptions, fields where the consumer cant tell the difference between products (say, vodka or water), but in general the consumer is smarter then they paint her.
Can you explain the new EDP identity in three adjectives?
Stefan: No problem: Flexible, open, innovative.
Its system is clearly flexible, it can transform into all different forms and shapes while still speaking clearly in a single language. It is open and transparent, not just in its formal layering of lucent layers, but also conceptually in its open ended possibilities and conversion into a complete design language. It is innovative in its avoidance of rubber stamping all of its materials. It reflects EDP's values of always customizing its solutions.
Was the EDP identity a big challenge?
Stefan: Yes. We all very much worked our ass off on this, but nobody worked harder, longer and more intensely than designer Jessica Walsh. She was involved from the very early briefings to the ideation to the execution and implementation.