State Corporation Rostec introduced a new brand of Concern Radioelectronic Technology (KRET). Comprehensive work on rebranding held Apostol Center for Strategic Communications in collaboration with HuntHaggarty, a UK Branding Agency .
Steve Haggarty, Founder and CEO of HuntHaggarty, now holds the position of art director in Apostle. He spoke about the work on the creation of a new brand for the Concern, about first results and shared his impressions of Russia .
When did you become Art Director at Apostol Center for Strategic Communication?
This story started three years ago. In June 2011, I was invited to Russia to participate in Yota Week at Strelka. The idea was that European communication agencies would hold a series of lectures and workshops for their colleagues in Moscow. HuntHaggarty worked with a great number of high profile clients, from Google and Dell to Nokia and Motorola, and I believed I had a lot to share with others. So I accepted the invitation and came to Moscow. That’s how I became acquainted with Apostol.
I became the Art Director at Apostol in early 2014. I came to Moscow in January, and my first step was to strengthen the creative team in Apostol. The overall success of any company, first and foremost, depends on the motivation, skills and capabilities demonstrated by each of its employees.
Apostol has already formed a portfolio of successful cases. It includes a large-scale rebranding project for Rostec State Corporation and its members—KRET and Schwabe Holding Companies. My job is to raise the potential of these brands to the global level following the Company’s slogan—Making Incredible.
How do you understand the said Russian identity? What are the specifics of working with Russian clients?
Russians are not an easy nation to understand. Sometimes I think they themselves can’t explain clearly what the Russian identity is. But seriously though, a good insight into the market of every country you are doing business in and appreciation of different cultures are very important when working with international corporations. This provides a basis for developing an efficient brand media support policy. Our clients in Russia are no exception, Russia is a huge multinational country with a rich history which should always be taken into account.
It takes a lot of time and efforts to explain it to our clients how a brand should be created if they want it to be in line with the spirit of the times and the market demand. Like it or not, you have to be a psychologist to make your clients adopt a correct perception of the brand notion. The designer has to have an intuitive sense of the thoughts, motives and needs of his clients. This approach provides a primary source of inspiration encouraging you to create something that is really unique and meets, or even anticipates, your client's expectations. The same is true for the branding market in Russia as a whole. One must explore behaviour patterns, ways of thinking and the psychology of different population groups, as only then can be in your element here. Only after doing this can develop a strategy and create a unique future-oriented product.
How do you rate the level of the communications market in Russia?
I was surprised to learn how young most of the leaders of the Russian communications market are, which is really exciting. The Russian market is changing in leaps and bounds. Communications companies are eager to learn. They explore new international technologies and make ambitious and forward-looking deals.
How would you characterise the branding service market in Russia?
At present, Russian brands are still under development. However, the consumer is already willing to purchase them. The brands need improving, they should build communication and talent strategies, and develop a distinctive style so as to catch the consumer's attention. What the buyer remembers about the company or its product at the psyche level forms their first but a very resilient and enduring conviction— whether they trust the producer and wish to buy what that producer offers.
Russian designers are noted for more avant-garde mentality and greater appetite for risk and creative work than most of young designers in the West whom we got used to considering more sophisticated and forward-minded. Branding in Russia has great potential with all this desire to push less conventional ideas and energy.
Do you have any contacts with any of your colleagues in the domestic market?
As there are a lot of international branding firms here, I met a number of old friends. But we do not discuss any specific projects even with each other.
Knowledge, enlightenment and experience often come all of a sudden, and only if your contact with your client is so close that you understand clearly what their true goals are, what thoughts and aims they wake up with. The thoughts the client is absorbed with are sure to impact the way they do their business, interact with their partners, and finally the objectives they set to us, designers. We prefer to establish such relationships with the client that would enable us to understand their motives from the very beginning and anticipate their wishes. This reduces the time required to discuss technical issues of the project and find a golden mean, i.e. the client can be sure already at the draft level that their wishes and expectations are taken into account and we can guarantee that the branding or design case in question will be a good shot and ensure a commercial success. Of course, designers often face challenges and disappointments in the course of the project but this is inherent in any creative pursuit.
My informal interaction with the professional community usually takes place, for instance, in the format of lectures that I still deliver at Strelka as an external expert. I see it as an opportunity to share my experience and to tell young trendsetters in Moscow about brand promotion techniques and strategies. I got a chance to meet a lot of young designers there who were all great guys.
Please tell us about the recent rebranding project for Radio Electronic Technologies Concern (KRET). What difficulties did you face? Why did the project take a whole year of work? Did the client accept it easily?
A recognisable global brand is a ticket to success for any company. You cannot beat your competitors without a strong brand in the global market. Any competition of brands does not come down just to whose logo is ‘cooler’. It is, first and foremost, a battle of corporate visions and philosophies. To win, they should be clear to the target audience: consumers, partners, and investors. The brand is one of core intangible assets of any company.
KRET’s new brand has been officially introduced quite recently. It is, in the first place, a symbol of the company’s impeccable reputation. When creating a graphic language, we strove to reflect the image of the Concern as a stable and open-minded producer of reliable marketable solutions. As a designer, I should note this project sets a high bar for our followers in the global market. For me, the KRET brand exemplifies accuracy in design. Every element and every image are aligned with the grid references we have developed.
The core philosophy of the logo is simplicity and precision while being unique and attractive. For example, I find logos of the Concern's competitors abroad to be too cold; they make me feel ill at ease. The point is that they are too aggressive, overwhelmed with details, while their colour range is monotone and run-of-the-mill. The KRET logo, by contrast, emphasises streamlined production and openness, while the bold colour layout creates a positive image of this multi-industry Concern. The red colour in the logo — a traditional symbol of Russia, its energy, its people's love of the Motherland and patriotism—is to create positive associations in the minds of KRET's prospective partners.
The graphical part of the KRET logo presents a stylised pixel grid comprised of rhombs in different colours. The core metaphor we use here is the transformation of reality into digital information. This is for a reason! As all identification and recognition systems forming the basis of our client’s technology are built on this very principle.
Like the company, it’s logo also has its own history. There are three equal ranking options of its interpretation. The first one is represented by a digital picture of three crowns on the double-headed eagle on the RF emblem and symbolises the holding company ties with Russia and significant tasks the nation imposed on it. The next interpretation is based on three branches of the Armed Force for which KRET develops and creates electronic and radio electronic products: the Air Force in the middle, the Naval Force and the Army at the sides. The third interpretation can be read from the Concern’s brand values: streamlined production and relevance at the sides and human dimension of KRET’s products as its core value symbolising the developers’ commitment to adapt their solutions to the human ability to perceive and respond to the information taking into account the time a person needs to make a decision.
Yes, it took a year to create KRET’s new brand history and its logo design, but it is not a long period. The work was not easy, we were busy creating nothing less than an international passport for them, developing a position from which we could take their reputation to the global level. You know, any creative work requires a maximum possible penetration into the client’s company structure so as to get a better insight into the specific nature of its operations, understand its business objectives, schemes of external and internal communications. We did have to comb through a number of options in order to find a unique solution.
A challenge like developing and creating KRET’s brand is not a task for one agency to handle. HuntHaggarty, Craig Lewisohn, the owner of Charlie Delta, a UK-based agency, and Apostol's team were all involved.
In which way does Apostol plan to develop its branding activity?
As discussed earlier the branding service market in Russia is just forming; at present it is like a baby in the cradle of communications. In terms of the cooperation between HuntHaggarty and Apostol, it means a minimum number of competitors and a maximum of opportunities to develop promising Russian brands and take them to the national and then international level. The potential Russian brands have is enormous. KRET and Schwabe provide a shining example of two brands on their way to becoming world-class brands. Apostol has all the tools and competencies to take both of them to the highest level.
Photo by Sergey Tarakanov (@ipolevogo)