Written by Joe Smith, Director & 5th Generation Smith Family.
Over the last year we have been designing a fresh “face” to the world. Actually four fresh faces – for our long standing clockmaking companies: J B Joyce of Whitchurch, James Ritchie of Edinburgh, William Potts of Leeds, and John Smith & Sons of Derby.
Ours is a rich heritage that dates right back to the 1690’s and we are reflecting this through a common identity theme, perpetuating the individual company names as well as their traditional hand and dial designs.
This means we’ll have new brand identities with the company names as “nameplate” logos, new formats for all our stationery and literature, and new livery for our vans. The vans will carry the regional identity associated with J B Joyce in Wales and the west, Potts in Yorkshire and the north of England, James Ritchie in Scotland and John Smith in the midlands and south east. Our identity as a group will continue as name Smith of Derby.
New livery for John Smith & Sons van
The starting point of our design theme was the nameplates on traditional clock movements, together with the classic feel of the 18th century serif font designed by John Baskerville. This approach respects the traditions of public clock making in the United Kingdom, and being a timeless classic style, it also represents our contemporary clockmaking and design.
The design brief
- Create a brand that works for our traditional and creative markets.
- Show our national coverage through local clockmakers who are based close to the communities they serve, and that we don’t always drive from Derby.
- Reinforce the direct connection we have with the thousands of clocks made or maintained by the four companies in the Group for many decades and even centuries.
- Unify and smarten up the ‘look’ of all companies in the Group while allowing individual company identities to flourish.
- Aid recruitment of apprentices or clockmakers to each of the companies within the regions we serve.
The team behind the redesign
We have been working with London based designers Bullet Creative, who are partners Gorm Ashurst and Kathy Barber. Both were really enthusiastic about working for us, and Gorm, being a specialist in typefaces, had an intuitive approach to our brief. They have worked with major global companies and a wide range of international arts and cultural bodies, yet were able to offer us their expertise at a competitive price.
Gorm has been assisted from Smith of Derby by Mike Fitchett. Mike came up with the first sketch for the “hands” logo, and has researched and provided the dial and hand outlines which represent our four companies, all of which are unique in detail. Mike also liaises with Sign Design who are applying the vehicle graphics.
Renata Tyszczuk, my wife, and Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield School of Architecture, has also fed ideas and comment into the process as part of her wider work with our company’s design-related activity.
Jane Betts has led the consultation process within Smith of Derby, and guided debate on the commercial considerations about ‘which brand, where, and when’.
Thanks are also due to many across the business and beyond who have shared their thoughts with Jane. We have had help from Alan Wilson; horology historians Steve and Darlah Thomas who are experts on Joyce and Co, and Michael Potts, historian and descendent of the founder of Potts of Leeds. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this considerable project whether named above or not. Everyone has been extremely supportive and we are all very pleased with the result.
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