There are a lot of visuals and marketing blurb on the web about identity work, but less talk on the real process and collaborative effort that goes to a project like this. ideologio has recently completed the branding of ELLOINOS by Markus Stolz and we couldn’t be happier about this collaboration. The process took about three months and I’ll try to describe it over this long post.
It’s been about a year ago when I first contacted Markus Stolz. I had noticed earlier that he’d been doing a race to raise awareness in fine Greek wines. And him being a German, I found that interesting. I didn’t know much about fine wine.
Being a Cretan working abroad, I have a soft spot for Greek projects. Starting the studio with Sarah in mid 2010, we put together a list of projects that we’d love to work for. Wine was in front row. Such a creative product! And the nearest connection to wine for us was Greece. We searched the internet and found some wineries on my island, Crete. We rang them and had some interesting meetings over our summer holiday. Met some great winemakers that exported all their wine abroad; frankly, we didn’t know that - It is rare to see Greek wines in London. Almost all the wine people we met were up to speed and thinking about the future. Their communication though, and design in particular was not always in sync with their truly great and unique wines. We thought we could help.
We developed a relationship with some great winemakers over time, however the economic crisis didn’t help to translate that into inspiring projects. We felt sorry that we were not able to help at the times where Greek quality products desperately needed an extra boost.
In our research on greek wines we discovered ELLOINOS on twitter. We quickly realised that Markus was a leading force in social media talking about greek wines. When I first emailed Markus to say hi, he responded within five minutes. That was really something, given that any communication with Greece ought to happen over a mobile, landline or there was a slow reply, if at all.
Earlier this year, I had an idea to do an independent project on greek wines and I asked Markus if he would like to collaborate. He showed interest straight away, even without knowing me at all. We started a discussion on a weekly basis. Over the discussions we had for an independent project we discovered that we communicate on the same wave length, witch was a good sign. After about a month, it turned out that the project at hand was branding ELLOINOS, his own enterprise. ELLOINOS started over three years ago and has become very successful source of information and authority on greek wines amongst wine specialists around the world. The project sounded exiting but I still had to test Markus’s willingness to make a dramatic step in terms of design. Happily, that was easy! Markus is a creative entrepreneur, fresh in his discipline and was truly open to new ideas.
We didn’t start the studio to work on dull projects. A couple of those came in when we started. Maybe good to sustain, but not good in the long run. It wouldn’t worth the effort. I’d argue that to avoid problematic projects, in any design discipline, one needs to work for, and with people he or she can communicate well with. It really is much more like a partnership with the client than a seller-buyer relationship. Clients need to see this as a priority and allocate all the resources that can allow a design project to get off the ground. And designers should take time to research and understand everything they can from the business perspective. Then trust can be built to allow for a creative workflow in which partners complement each other and avoid stepping on each other’s toes.
One thing that was important for me in investing more time for Markus was that he seemed to have made a brand for himself already. It seemed more a social media one, a communications led one. Visibly we could build on that by adding an identity and a creative strategy but ELLOINOS was really, really up to speed with the rest. In the beginning of the work we tried to collectively put a brief together. We sent him a couple of questionnaires and had some discussions. I was very impressed by the punctuality with which he replied to our questions. His answers where all brief and to-the-point but also original. That brought excitement, as it would, in theory, allow for a more productive collaboration and less time spent.
We agreed on cost and plan in advance and structured a three stage delivery process. Knowing that the first stage of the project was a critical one, and if we’d fail to satisfy or engage, we would be likely out of the door. This would probably mean that the whole studio idea would have to be put on hold and seek more realistic opportunities for survival. As it happens, next time the postman comes, he brings a bill, not a paycheck.
It was a relief when on that skype meeting we presented our first ideas for the new brand, Markus engaged with the most adventurous one. That was our favourite too. That was the first clear sign that this would be a creative collaboration in which we should be focusing on what is truly different and challenging as opposed to simply please a client. This is how the ELLOINOS identity found its way to realisation. I have to say, it isn’t easy to find such an environment and for our studio it took a good two years of active search to arrive to a fruitful collaboration. To sustain that long we were lucky enough to deliver some work for Google, Diesel and small clients that came via third parties. We were also both lecturing part time at Art college.