How do you brand timeless craftsmanship within a trend-focused industry?
Madera considers itself a niche BMX components manufacturer. They produce American made bike parts and despite being perceived as a small brand, they are sold in 107 countries and ship about 1500 units a year.
My job was to synthesize a confused image into a single, powerful and distinctive identity to increase brand recognition and enable Madera to be perceived as the incredibly valuable brand that they are.
BMX trends are constantly evolving so I wanted to let the timeless craftsmanship of their products shine.
C H A L L E N G E
Clarify the brand’s identity and positioning as well as increase brand recognition.
O U T C O M E
I helped Madera simplify a collection of disconnected logos into a single, elevated identity system with a new look, tone, and voice that is consistent with the brand’s values. This resulted in a significant increase in sales of products branded with the new logos and imagery. In addition, engagement increased dramatically on social media due to enthusiastically positive feedback.
S C O P E O F P R O J E C T
Identity System Design
We were apprehensive to make any changes to our image but Russell's research proved our inhibitions wrong.
— Madera brand manager —
Developing the Strategy
To begin, I had numerous searching and comprehensive conversations with the Madera Brand Manager to discuss the goals, desires, and pain points of the brand and its customers. With this strategic approach, we were able to clarify the brand's ideal customer, distill what makes Madera unique in a commoditized market, and discover many other valuable insights to use as the cornerstone for all of their future branding plans.
Identifying the ideal user
Madera isn't a brand interested in growth and profit for the sake of it. They are committed to supporting the culture of BMX. We identified their ideal customer as a specific type of dedicated core rider who makes it his or her life goal to give blood, sweat, and tears for the sake of progressing bike riding. On the other hand, newcomers looking for the new flavor of the month can move along.
Our conversations enabled us to extract and clarify the brand's key personality traits. If Madera were a person, it'd be that riding buddy you always text first. The homie always down to sit for 2 hours and encourage you on your battle for the new trick. The friend that enriches your life on and off the bike. We defined a mission, vision, value proposition, brand attributes, etc. All of this acted as our lighthouse and guided the look and feel of the identity in addition to acting as a reference for all brand decisions in the future.
BMX is becoming a commoditized market, so we had to define what makes the brand special beyond a price point. Madera is made in Florida by the well respected and high-priced heritage brand Profile Racing. Being made in America is admirable, but it doesn't mean much to the newer generations of BMXers. So we decided to focus on the WHO rather than the WHERE: Madera offers Profile Racing level craftsmanship and quality, both simplified and packaged at a competitive price.
With the results and insights from the strategy work, I developed a comprehensive identity system to create a consistent brand universe for Madera and all of their touchpoints. This included a new logo, new color palette, new typeface, and a complimentary visual language. The new identity's foundational concept is inspired by the distinguishing physical feature of one of brand's most iconic products, the 48 spline crank spindle. The new Madera logo uses a simple, yet customized wordmark with a customized M icon that uses the negative space as an abstract representation of the spline interface.
Setting a few select letters in a heavier weight places an emphasis on MADE. This is to evoke the craftsmanship of their products and reinforce their differentiation: being MADE BY PROFILE. The dual weight within the logo can easily be argued to negatively affect legibility, but we decided together that it was more important to focus on dedicated BMXers; those whom already know the brand and the pronunciation. If they don't yet know, it may be even better for the future as they will soon have the "ah-ha" moment when they figure out the visual trick and then never forget the brand logo.
Madera already had an established protocol that limited the color variations of the products they offer. I decided that we should lean in on the color constraints of the brand rather than over investing in new brand colors that would never be realized in hard goods. Therefore, Madera's palette consists of a bespoke black and white foundational palette (with their limited edition product colorways acting as the supporting palette).
The high quality work Russell did was only a fraction of the value we got. His explanations and numerous consultations will allow us to implement and benefit from his work for years to come.
— Madera brand manager —
Working within the visual language and brand attributes we had established, I designed a collection of assets that Madera could take with them into the future seasonal releases of apparel, stickers, hats, etc. This creates additional touchpoints that allow Madera to express their brand personality and build their tribe. This also elevates them above the standard procedure of a thoughtless logo-slap or the uninspired brand-name-in-a-new-font t-shirt.
Madera showcased their new identity and minimalist look with a limited edition sprocket that quickly sold out. They continually receive positive feedback and requests for product with the new look as well as increased demand for softgoods. The new identity and narrowed focus has increase morale among Madera's team of sponsored riders as they are now more motivated to represent something they were proud of. Even the owners and designers are proud to have the new identity to compliment their creations and craftsmanship. Overall, their tribe is more engaged and motivated to both purchase product and to act as ambassadors for the brand than ever before.