As we begin a New Year I’d like to wish you the best of luck for 2020.

Looking back, 2019 was a very good year for me. I’ve been introduced to some great new clients to create work that I’m really proud of, including three new brand identities as well as two brand refresh projects.

And I’ve enjoyed implementing the design for my longer established clients’ brands too, across an interesting mix of shop signage, vehicle liveries, websites and print design.

Brand creation for Ally Waters. Ally wanted a bright colour palette to reflect her brand’s personality. The eureka moment was when, eventually, I saw an ‘A’ and a ‘W’ in the tessellating pattern.

Brand refresh for Greenpoint. The brand strategy phase of the project led to repositioning the company from ‘computer services’ to ‘business solutions’ before creating the brand identity and guidelines.

Brand refresh for The Bed Post and brand creation for Lorraine Elizabeth. This project was tricky because the strategy we developed was to create two independent brand identities that also had a strong visual relationship to show they were ‘partner’ brands, with the same owners and business premises.

Brand creation for Corfe Wealth Management . Chartered Financial Planner,Chris Webb, wanted a new brand to reflect a more modern, vibrant personality than the traditional image that many other financial companies portray.

Literature design for Hft. I’ve had the pleasure of working with this national charity for a few years now, This year, among other projects, I designed a twelve page brochure supporting fundraising to build specialist homes for adults with complex needs and autism.

E-commerce website design for Roth Audio. Roth’s previous website was underperforming so we reviewed the product categories, navigation, made purchasing easier and created a clean, functional design. The site was built in WordPress by Taybridge. View the Roth Audio site here.

If you would like to arrange a chat to discuss how to bring clarity to your brand through a strategic design approach, or to develop your existing brand across your marketing materials, give me a call on 07876 293885 or email me

Best wishes

New brand identity for a start-up business.

Dr Nadya Temple qualified in medicine and Neurology in her native Kazakhstan before specializing in Acupuncture for over twenty years. Having recently settled in the UK she continued to practice acupuncture from two clinics in Surrey.

Her new business was developing steadily through word of mouth but Nadya wanted to create greater awareness and a professional image to attract more clients.

The brief

Nadya approached me to create a brand for her business that would acknowledge the Chinese heritage of the ancient medical technique whilst appearing fresh and modern. We decided to call the new brand ‘Tadworth Acupuncture’ to focus on the locality of the practice.

Logo design

I presented a range of logo concepts, exploring varying degrees of Chinese personality from overtly authentic symbolism to the more subtle influence. These were discussed with Nadya and we settled on a concept that was a western, modern symbol retaining a hint of its Chinese ‘dna’.

The chosen concept progressed to the design development stage where we went though a number of iterations – each time fine-tuning the weight and balance of the symbol and supporting typography – until it is perfectly balanced.



The first step to creating a new website should not be design, but thorough planning. We spent time looking at competitors’ sites, discussed the amount of content, tone of voice and functionality before drawing up a site map to show number of pages and basic content.

Next came the design, (bespoke, rather than relying on pre-existing template) draft copy and photography. Because we had planned the project well we knew exactly what content to write and what images of Nadya working in her clinics were needed.

While images and copy were being prepared the website build was underway by one of my web developer partners, ensuring the site would be responsive for mobile devices as well as computers.

As soon as the build was complete we populated the site with final copy and images, carried out final testing and the site became live.

See the final website here. 

This is what Nadya’s business partner has to say about the Design process:

Nick provided us with the creation of a new brand design, which offered us benefits in several respects. It enabled us to provide a more customised and focussed image towards customers, it enabled us to take the detail and use for image improvement, such as placing the logo onto uniforms, and it provided the foundation for our website. This has raised awareness of our business, and our customers have generally commented positively on the result. So, I thank you Nick for your expertise and support.

Jeffrey Temple, Director Tadworth Acupuncture


Do you have a small or start-up business?

If you have a small or start-up business, consider getting help from a brand expert to make your brand stand out and give you an advantage over your competitors.

If you would like an informal chat would help, give me, Nick Ovenden, a call on 07876 293885 or 01737 819687 or email me.



The ‘Gin and Tonic Effect’

How to differentiate your business using the ‘Gin and Tonic Effect’

I’ve sat in many a brand strategy meeting where those around the table have been trying to get to the bottom of what their USP is. They go round and round in circles getting more and more frustrated. I can see all they want to do is get up and walk out the door.

My advice is, don’t spend time looking for something that 99% of the time doesn’t exist.

Your product or service is unlikely to be unique. Even so, in a crowded marketplace we all need to find a way to stand out from our competitors. We need to find a way to be different.

So, how can we do this?

Here’s an example.

You and I are both flying to New York.

We both chose different airlines.

I am flying British Airways, you are flying Virgin Atlantic.

We are both flying on the same airplanes – a 787.

The cost is roughly the same.

Both airplanes are using the same fuel.

Flying from, and to, the same airports.

The same air traffic control, same route, the staff had the same safety training and both ‘planes get to their destination safely and on time.

So, what’s the difference?

The difference is in the different personalities of the two brands.

Brand Personality
As soon as you see the logo on the tail you know you are in for a different experience.

Your brand creates your difference

And it’s not just airlines that rely on their brand to create the difference.

Many other businesses offer very similar products and services to their competitors.

Two Estate Agents, for instance, may be operating in the same territory. Selling the same housing stock at roughly the same prices, charging the same commission, marketing through the same channels to attract the same buyers.

What’s the difference?

Again, it’s down to each Estate Agent’s personality, values, behaviour and reputation. The brand is what makes each one different.

And what’s the difference between high street banks, mobile phone companies and professional services like accountants and solicitors?

Very little if you think about it. Apart from their brands.

What is a brand?

Think of a brand as a person.

When you meet that person for the first time, you judge them by how they speak, their behavior, what they believe or the principles they stand for and what they look like.

Brand Personality

Their tone of voice – how they speak.

Their vision – what they believe.

Their values – how they behave.

And their identity – how they look – how they are dressed.

Importantly too you will find out about their reputation – what do others say about this person?

A brand is exactly the same.

At its core, a brand will have a set of values; it may be trustworthy or honest or perhaps risk-takers or an innovator.

It will have a tone of voice – formal or informal, authoritative or friendly for instance.

A vision – a belief in what the brand has set out to achieve. What is its purpose?

And its identity – the way it looks –its branding: the logo, colours, typeface and style of imagery.

And a brand’s reputation – what people are saying about it – is vital. Think about how we judge Volkswagen, Facebook, Google when we hear that they may have broken our trust.

How to find the difference

Let’s call it the ‘gin and tonic’ effect.

Back to our airline flights. We have returned from our trips and swap notes. You ask, “how was your flight?”

I don’t answer “it was fine. The plane didn’t break down and we didn’t crash – we landed on time”. We expect all this at the very least!

What I might say is “the service was great. On the way out, I asked for a gin and tonic and on the return flight they recognized me and remembered my drink. They even added a slice of lemon from first class!”

Gin and Tonic effect

So, it’s the little, ‘added value’ extra elements that get remembered and talked about.

It’s these little things that will differentiate your brand from your competitors’.

The values airlines stand by, such as reliability, safety, efficiency are all very important, but these are rational values. A brand should consider emotional values too to help it differentiate itself.

What is your brand’s Gin and Tonic?

Here are 5 steps to work through that will help you to find your difference.

1. Make time to sit down with your directors and re-visit your company’s brand values or define them if they don’t exist.

2. Aim for no more than five or six values to describe your brand’s personality. What you believe in and stand for.

3. Be honest – don’t pretend the brand is ‘passionate’ if it’s not.

4. Think about your brand’s vision. What is its purpose?

5. Now define your point of difference.

If you have a truly unique proposition, like you produce anti-cholesterol bacon butties for instance, then you are pretty much home and dry.

But if your products or services are similar to your competitors’, you’ll need to dig deep and find a difference.

Remember, it may well be an emotional, rather than rational, point of difference – like the Gin and Tonic.

How defining your brand can help your business

Creating a strong brand or not can be the difference between a business thriving or disappearing. So, in that context why wouldn’t you take time to go through the five steps above?

The rewards of a strong brand:

  • Consistency of brand engenders trust. Trust is needed to move a prospect to become a customer.
  • Customers understand and remember your brand and what it stands for. When the time is right for them to buy, you are the company of choice.
  • Customers become engaged and loyal. Their lifetime value to your business increases. They recommend you to others.

The benefits of a strong brand don’t just apply to customers and prospects, it’s vital for your employees too:

  • A strong brand makes your company a great place to work, helping you to attract the best skilled employees.
  • It reduces employee churn, and therefore costs associated to re-employing and training
  • You and your staff have confidence and pride in the business when all share the values and vision
  • Your employees (even those who are not customer facing) are your best advocates for your business

If you’re finding this difficult – you’re not alone

Defining your brands personality is not an easy task, especially when you are so close to your business.

Consider getting help from a brand expert. This is exactly what I do. I act as a facilitator. I ask questions about what you offer your customers, what you do well, why you do what you do. I delve deeper to help you paint a picture of your brand.

If you like the sound of this and feel an informal chat would help, give me, Nick Ovenden, a call on 07876 293885 or 01737 819687 or email me.

Repositioning and Rebranding of the Bourne Club

When Martin Browne became President of the Bourne Club in Farnham, Surrey, he was on a mission to increase the membership of the Club. To do this he knew they needed to reposition and rebrand the club to bring it up to date. The  brand’s image needed to change in order to appeal to a younger and wider audience.

Time for a refreshed more relevant brand image

Martin assembled a committee of members to manage the rebrand work. I was invited to meet and guide them through the process. We started with an appraisal of the Club’s values and personality and went on to define exactly what the Club offers its members. From this in-depth review, I was able to create a logo and branding style and implement the new branding across signage and other marketing materials.

Personality and values

Together we took a long hard look at the current personality of the club and described the more positive qualities they wished to be associated with. This thinking was mapped out in a diagram which represents a ‘re-positioning’ of the brand from where they are today to where they wish to be tomorrow.

When looking at the values and personality of any organisation, it can be useful to note the negative values i.e. those that you definitely don’t wish to be associated with as well as the positive traits.

You can see how this was developed for the Bourne Club in the diagram below.

Defining the offer

With any brand, a verbal description of what the brand offers is crucial to its successful communication.

The Bourne Club is not just a tennis club. It has much to offer its members. However, passers-by could assume that it was just a badminton, tennis and squash club, which you can see in the original signboard below.

The activities that members can enjoy are much more than merely racquet sports. The club has a gym. Members can drop in to relax in the lounge and enjoy a coffee and a chat. Bridge nights are very popular and there are regular social activities such as dances, comedy nights and gin tastings.

I recommended the strap line, ‘Rackets, Fitness, Bridge, Social’ which sums up concisely what the club offers today. This was agreed upon before the logo design work started. However, to demonstrate how the strap line could be incorporated, I created a simple logo represented by a triangle with the words underneath.

Adding these four words was a significant change to the club’s original profile and broadens the offer from ‘just a tennis club’.

A modern image

To appeal to a younger audience, a contemporary look and feel was necessary.

The old multi-coloured logo is replaced with bold, legible lettering and vibrant green brand colour. The chosen logo acknowledges the origins as a tennis club, with a clever use of the letter B.
While looking carefully at the curved line on a tennis ball, at a certain angle I saw the curve form a hint of the letter ‘B’. And that was the inspiration for the logo!

After much refinement, experimentation, crafting and testing, the final developed logo was signed off by the committee and the Bourne Club now has a suite of logo versions; centred, horizontal and stacked, suitable for a wide variety of applications across digital, print and signage.

The Bourne Club is delighted with its new branding, which was launched in 2017 and continues to be implemented.

This is what Martin has to say about his results of the rebrand:
“Nick came up with a design that reflects the Club’s character as lively, inclusive and contemporary. The branding is very flexible and works brilliantly on signage, merchandise and digital marketing. The reaction from members has been enthusiastic and it has helped to promote the Club to the wider community”

Martin Browne President – Bourne Club

See more of Bourne Club brand design here

Bounce into the 21st Century

If you feel your brand no longer reflects your business as it is today, maybe we should talk.

Please do get in touch. You can call me on 07876 293885 or email me.

How well considered is your logo?

Cast your mind back to when you first created your logo. Can you remember the process you went through that led you to choose the final design?

If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you will know that your brand is more than just your logo, but this is very often where it all begins.

Research and understanding

Well, that’s not quite true! Whilst the logo might be the first visual to your brand identity, there should be a considerable amount of research beforehand. Any designer worth their salt should be curious about your business. They should be nosey! Asking lots and lots of questions to get a deep understanding about the essence of your business and what’s important to you; your values, the types of customers you wish to attract and the value you provide through your products and services.

The research and understanding phase for brand design is crucial to give your designer a good understanding of the personality of your business as well as a clear design brief before the designer gets to sharpen their pencils.

Creative concepts

Let me give you an example. Having visited the site of Tadworth Tyres and spoken at length to Duncan, the Managing Director, I was able to really get under the skin of the business.

This allowed me to go away, reflect on the research, and use my creativity to translate what I had discovered into a selection of graphic ideas to represent the brand’s personality.

So the next time Duncan and I met, I was able to show him these four very different concepts and discuss which idea would most closely match the brand.

logo concepts


• The first design with the shield and EST: 1974 reflects the heritage of Tadworth Tyres: they’ve been around since 1974 and we discussed how important this aspect of the brand is to the business and for their customers.

• The second idea is a play on the initials of the business and the tread of the tyre. I didn’t want to deliver a clichéd design showing a literal representation of a tyre but I thought this was subtle.

• The third concept is in a more modern style, loosely representing a racing track, and this stimulated discussion about how we could position the brand away from the traditional tyre service image.

• The fourth, again a play on the initials, is exploring the opposite end of the spectrum to the first, ‘established’ concept with a modern feel.

After considering the range of ideas, the second concept was felt to fit the brand perfectly.

Design development

My next task was to spend time carefully crafting the idea into a finished design: making sure the colours were exactly right, the typography elegantly balanced and that we had enough versions of the logo to allow for use on signs, website, clothing and other applications.

It’s really important to spend time at this stage to ensure the logo will work as well on a website at thumbnail size as it will at supersize on the side of a building.

Here’s the final, fully developed logo design:

As you reflect on the process you went through when your logo was designed, I sincerely hope you had meaningful choices that weren’t just variations on a theme and that your final logo was beautifully crafted.

Brand Implementation

Once the design of the logo design has been finalised and signed off (some testing may be necessary at this stage), the next job is the implementation across all touch points that a prospect or customer has with the business.

Successful branding design is not about simply applying your logo to all communications material, signage, uniforms etc. It’s about carefully crafting everything with a consistent design style that repeatedly communicates your brand personality and engages with your customers.

Tadworth Tyres uniform

Tadworth Tyres embroidery detail

Tadworth Tyres fascia detail

Tadworth Tyres applied logo detail of exterior sign

Tadworth Tyres illuminated exterior branding

Tadworth Tyres showroom interior branding

Everything sings the same tune, in tune.  

This is what Duncan has to say about his experience of the branding process:

“Getting proper branding after being in business for forty years without, was a big deal for us. We couldn’t afford to get it wrong. Nick took time to understand what we are about and delivered a range of design options which all hit the spot in one way or another. With his help we chose the right one and it’s made a real difference to how staff and customers perceive the business now. Much more professional, and now we get noticed and remembered when people drive past!”

Duncan Hamilton, MD Tadworth Tyres.


With every brand I help create for a client, we are aiming to achieve a world where every aspect of their branding is something they are proud of.

Next time you see your logo, think to yourself, are you proud of your logo?

If not, maybe we should talk. Please do get in touch. You can call me on 07876 293885 or email me.




The best of 2017

The standout designs of last year.

2017 was a great year for me, one of my best in fact and I’d like to share some of the highlights with you.

I had the pleasure of working with some forward thinking business owners.
The result is they all now have strong branding to support their plans to grow their businesses over the coming year.

Tadworth Tyres

Reason for review: Move to a larger business premises.

Solution:  Creation of a new brand identity for Tadworth Tyres. Brand implementation across exterior signage, clothing, stationery and marketing material.


Find out more about this project.



Reasons for review: Move to a larger retail premises and strategy to sell on-line.

Solution: Develop the Samsara brand across shop exterior and signage design and create a new E-commerce website.

Find out more about this project.



Reason for design: Launch of the iPhone X, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the iPhone

Solution: Design a special ‘celebration’ range of range of iPhone cases to appeal to purchasers of the iPhone 8 and X

 Find out more…  The the story of how we generated ideas for the iPhone cases from the design brief through to production.


Jacks Haircuts Soho

Reasons for review: The shop is in a basement and not visible to passing trade.

Solution: To create greater awareness of Jacks by using high quality photography from David Oliver and new heritage inspired branding.

Find out more about this project.


Bourne Club, Farnham

Reasons for review: The Club’s new president identified a problem with the old branding which was not appealing to new, younger members.

Solution: To create a recognisable brand marque that identifies the club as being a friendly, dynamic, young, sports and social club.

Find out more about this project


If this review of 2017 has prompted you to ask whether your brand reflects your business as you head for 2018, please give me a call on 07876 293885 or email me. I’d be glad to help you review your branding.

I wish you a very happy New Year everyone and all the very best for 2018.

Tilly Mint Weddings

My client had three specific design criteria for the creation of her luxury wedding shop brand:

The name– Tilly Mint, the colours – mint green and pink, and the store had to look at home in London, despite it’s location in Hampshire.

Exterior signage was created using specially formed letters finished in gold leaf (no other finish has quite the same effect) and bespoke oval swinging sign.

The brand design was implemented across everything from wrapping paper and carrier bags to price tickets and business cards.

Samsara retail branding and E-commerce website

I created the branding for Samsara a few years ago whilst working as Nomo Strategic Marketing and Design. Emily Browne, the owner, wanted a name and logo to launch her dress agency in Bagshot Surrey.

Early in 2017 I dropped into the shop to check that all was OK and to ask if there was anything I could do. Emily explained that she was moving to a new, larger premises a few doors up in Bagshot High Street and needed some help with exterior colour and application of the branding.

I suggested a number of signage schemes and alternative colours ranging from subtle to vivid hues. After checking paint samples, Emily and I agreed on a colour named ‘Dusted Fondant’ for the shop exterior. I obtained estimates from signage companies for the manufacture and application of the laser-cut acrylic lettering from my scaled artworks. The entire shopfront was painted before the installation of signage.

Samsara opened in May 2017 and its strong high street presence is now attracting far greater numbers of customers than at the previous premises.

Emily says, “I’m so pleased Nick has designed the new shop front for Samsara – I’ve always loved the original logo that he created. Nick can be trusted to listen to what I want and come up with spot on brief designs. But, also to challenge my opinion and gently push his ideas to achieve a really professional, well detailed scheme. I’m really proud of how Samsara stands out in Bagshot High Street due to the effective design.”

The next strategic step for Emily to develop the business was to take the brand online and sell her merchandise to a wider audience through a bespoke e-commerce site. Design work on the new site commenced in September 2017 and the build was undertaken by my digital partner Taybridge Consulting. We trained Emily on how to update content, use the payment gateway and shipping tools and went live in mid October.

View the Samsara Fashion website here. 


Special edition phone cases for the Apple iPhone X

About Qdos

The tenth anniversary of the iPhone presented an opportunity that my client Qdos, couldn’t ignore.

Qdos creates smartphone accessories andhas an exciting range of cases, many of which I’ve had the pleasure of designing over the years.

The brief

Qdos wanted a range of designs that would celebrate the iPhone’s birthday.

The brief for the design for the new iPhone cases was that they must be clever, smart and aspirational.

The idea was that the proud owner of the new 8 and X would want to ‘dress’ their new phone with a special 10th anniversary cover.

Generating ideas

The Qdos team and I brainstormed some themes – Vintage, Evolution, Birthday and others and I returned to my studio to start work.

I covered as much ground as I could over the following week, taking inspiration from my all time design heroes Alan Fletcher and Milton Glaser.

Of course, during the fist presentation, a lot of the early designs went straight into the trash bin. But that’s not a problem; it’s the ideas we reject that make the rest the best!

The shortlist

Development of the shortlisted designs followed, chipping away and refining all the way to the production of final artwork.

Patience is a virtue

And then the waiting. For the factories in China to turn these ideas – ideas that start out as a scribble on a layout pad often at 10.45pm – into reality.

Taking pride in the end result

It’s quite a thrill to see these beautifully produced, tactile, little iPhone 7,8 and X cases, especially when customers get to purchase them! Perhaps you have one?

I’m proud of all the work I create for my clients, whether its a humble business card or a fully blown Brand Identity.

A good example of ‘engaging design, crafted with pride’.

See the range at the Qdos website




New logo for Jacks Haircutters in Soho

My good friend and collaborator, David Oliver, who is a brilliant photographer by the way, asked me to help with a small job. He wanted to help his friend Jack, who has cut David’s hair for that past twenty years.

Jack’s salon is in a basement in Soho’s Old Compton Street, with no ‘shopfront’ as such. Many potential customers walk past as they cannot see into the premises. So David took some great shots of Jack and his team in action and planned to display them outside the entrance, on an A-frame sign so customers could see what was on offer.

I was happy to help out by arranging a montage of shots and arranging supply of the sign but when I asked for a logo to brand the job Jack didn’t have one. In fact he sort of did, but frankly I couldn’t use the 70’s throwback that he was using. (Nothing wrong with 70’s design by the way if it’s good.)

So I proposed a couple of logo designs, incorporating the established date and location: Old Compton Street, to communicate that this is an established, quality, Soho based business.

Although the original brief was for a simple sign, Jack now has branding which he is proud of and is even considering branded merchandise.

By the way, if anyone thinks the lack of apostrophe is a mistake it’s not. This is a logo, not a grammatical piece of text. Look at Harrods and Selfrdges for examples.