Inside the Studio: Ferroconcrete
by Tiana Spellman on 03/22/2012 | 8 Minute Read
A Peek Inside Ferroconcrete, Swirly Goodness, A Network with Personality and Little Tarts with Big Attitude.
Brands, personified. That’s what downtown Los Angeles-based branding firm, Ferroconcrete likes to call their work. With an eye toward spotlighting the emotional impact of brands, as well as the evolution of branding standards, the company believes in the aesthetic of pure simplicity when it comes to executing complex design and marketing strategies that are aimed to sustain and entertain.
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Established with its first client, Pinkberry, in 2006 Ferroconcrete began transforming a single West Hollywood frozen yogurt shop into a continually expanding worldwide brand. Ferroconcrete has been responsible for all aspects of the Pinkberry brand since. The studio’s other clients include the newly rebranded TBS, Hustler Toys, Echo Beverages, Coola Suncare, mptv, Skywatch, as well as the creation of founder and creative director Yo Santosa’s own retail brand, früute.
Before Ferroconcrete, Yo Santosa created memorable main title sequences for Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty, recently named 2 of the best 50 TV main titles by The Los Angeles Times. Her start in motion gave her a fresh take on her soon-to-be discovered career in branding. She would learn that while even the shortest form of motion design such as a main title was ultimately intended to tell a story, so could a brand.
Instead of over the course of seconds or minutes as with motion graphics, a brand could tell its story over months and years and through all aspects of its design: logo, tone, website, marketing, packaging and beyond. Branding could be an ever-changing entity that was bold and emotive enough to disregard traditional platform constraints across print, web, motion and other mediums. A brand tells its evolving story - how it grows, adapts, and of course, how it survives in a shifting market. A brand’s story would then help personify it, reinforcing it with memorability.
With Pinkberry, the goal was to create a sustainable brand that could survive serious competition. The key was to engage new customers and keep existing ones entertained. By giving the brand a strong identity and distinct personality, it could connect directly with its audience. During winter, cups of potentially monotonous white on white yogurt were transformed into a festive snowman with coconut earmuffs and chocolate chip eyes. On Valentine’s Day two flavors were first swirled together featuring the Original and Green Tea leaning into one another conveying love. Even with its distinct personality, Pinkberry’s design manages to convey a lot of information through subtlety, starkness and simplicity.
More recently, the studio took on a new branding direction with the redesign of TBS, which included a full on-air graphics package with animated logo. TBS is a project far from the world of frozen yogurt, yet a brand’s strong personality is once again evident. The network’s iconic half-circle logo became a three-dimensional character with an arsenal of expressions and gestures like waving, dancing, bowing and generally charming audiences as he jumps through promos and shows interacting with on-screen characters. By personifying the logo, viewers are able to connect with a voice that directly communicates with them, while keeping them entertained in between the shows. Ferroconcrete also combined the tagline into one word: veryfunny, reinforcing brand recognition. Fast Co Design recently named TBS one of their 11 favorite branding projects of 2011.
With Hustler Toys, Ferroconcrete was able to show a bolder method to their work, as well as showcase an altogether different kind of project. Hustler asked the studio to design and package their new female-driven toy line which aimed to make sex toys more mainstream and less taboo, while still maintaining the rebellious essence of the core brand. Looking outside of traditional categories for inspiration, the project took cues from the beauty industry. Sex toys, like cosmetics would become Necessary Luxuries. The design of the products and the packaging were simple, stylish and unintimidating. With a product color palette ranging from blues to purples, pink and red, the brand would feel bold yet playful. The chic black and silver packaging is devoid of anything crude or obscene, and instead focuses on elegance and wit. The line helps both simplify and justify a woman’s most basic desire for pleasure, and encourages her to feel adventurous and liberated.
Echo Beverages, a Los Angeles-based startup asked Ferroconcrete to brand their environmentally responsible bottled water company. Featuring 100% recyclable bottles made from 100% recycled plastic, the brand’s design and execution had to mesh with the company’s staunch eco-responsible philosophy, keeping waste, frills and anything unnecessary to a minimum. The bottle design is sleek and clean; its sheer simplicity actually allows it to stand out amidst shelves of competition. The slim, removable label - printed in a carbon neutral, 100% wind powered facility - was designed to save time and effort at recycling facilities. Ferroconcrete sees these types of brands and methods setting new standards in the years to come.
With her most recent project, Yo fulfilled a more personal branding goal – to create her own retail shop with her mother and sister: früute, a specialty bakery specializing in unique, handcrafted tarts. Ferroconcrete designed the brand and the store architecture, establishing a contemporary, minimal and natural feel. The concept was to convey a fresh take on a traditional dessert - the humble fruit tart – while elevating its perception to edible art, only without feeling snobby. The store had to feel light and modern but could not be too cold, nor too rustic. The solution was to blend concrete materials with light, natural wood. The packaging needed to be clean and functional – designed to secure the tarts and serve as an understated gift box. One opens the brown box to find an interior of blue skies and boldly colorful tarts – a pleasant unexpected surprise, just like biting into the tarts themselves. The design of the store, the brand and all of its elements allow the beautiful and exquisite tarts to speak for themselves.
Ferroconcrete continues to create striking, simple and memorable work in print, web, motion, environment and beyond. Creating successful brands is hard work but it’s also what each team member at Ferroconcrete loves to do. Everyone is passionate about their work and believes in collaboration and in coming up with new methods, unique solutions and inventive ways to personify brands.