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An illutration of a yellow submarine with caterpillar tracks above the text Yellow Sub Geo

The Story of an 'All Together Now' Brand - Yellow Sub

Bringing a brand to life

“We’re starting our own business! We want it to be disruptive in the industry, cut through the jargon and be straight talking. We’re gonna call it Yellow Sub. What do you think?”

Most clients come to Orchard with an initial idea, Alex and Gareth from Yellow Sub came to us with a dream. They wanted to be different; to challenge an industry that usually consists of three letter acronyms. Their dream was to bring geo technics, hydrology and land regeneration kicking and screaming into a new age.

As with most creatives, the work life balance often blurs and, in this case, the YellowSub dream started as an initial conversation between myself and Alex Egan - Director at Yellow Sub on our camping and biking road trip in the beautiful scenic Elan Valley. That spark of an idea, the dream of a business with a clear ethos and constantly throwing ideas at each other sparked excitement all around. As a visual person, all throughout the conversation, I was drawing shapes and building concepts of a clean brand that would mirror the thoughts Alex had been telling me of what this venture could be.

Heading up the digital and design department at Orchard for my day job gives me access to a diverse team of creatives who bring great ideas to life on a weekly basis. This got me thinking; we could help these guys follow that dream, build something special and give them a platform to challenge the norm.

A group of men and women draw ideas on a glass board

Not all creative projects start off the same and this one was no different. ‘I love the idea of a yellow submarine on a T-Shirt’ Alex says… "Cool, but what makes it different to any other Yellow Sub out there? We need something typographic as well as symbolic to help tie it all together." Our goal was to provide Alex and Gareth with a platform to be proud of; one that represented their business wholeheartedly. We started planting the seed of icons of submarines with appendages, like a swiss army knife. This alone felt lost without some sort of typographic treatment to spell out the business name. Acronyms were a no-no, so Yellow Sub went through many fonts and iterations before settling on Herme Geometric Sans 3 robustness and Segoe UI’s delicacy which gave the logo mark confidence and presence on the page. The addition of the periscope happened by chance while accidentally stretching the L in the wrong direction during the exploration stage. Yellow Sub in words, forms the shape of a submarine with a periscope. The excitement was brewing and the energy from Alex and Gareth at this stage was electrifying. When the penny drops and you find that gold nugget that simply works, every other idea you try just fails in comparison. We pushed this logo around several scenarios to check it was workable in digital and print, on T-Shirts, presentation documents, stickers, mugs, business cards, you name it, we tried it! Submarines...? 

The letterform for the primary logo mark was only part of the brand here. A quick sketch showed that simply a yellow submarine wouldn’t cut the mustard, we needed something different, something that would give it weight and a sense of action; enter digger tracks. A few WhatsApp screen grabs back and forth, got the guys super excited about the prospect of a mini submarine with big tracks animating around and all over their collateral as supporting visual elements.

We got ourselves a brand!

Yellow Sub logo

Yellow Sub logo variations

It’s crazy how quickly a finalised idea can be fleshed out once the bones of that concept sync in; use the periscope shape to create all forms of tyre tracks and structures within the iconography. Ian Anderson of The Designers Republic was a great influence in this thinking with his work on Pop Will Eat Itself album covers and Wipeout artwork. It really helped inform a design style we all fell in love with. It was established quite early on that there were to be 3 strands to the business services; Geo, Hydro and Solutions. This helped us shape a brand hierarchy for future use. Yellow Sub as the primary mark and suffixed services neatly tying it all together.

A brand is more than just a logo!

Mockups of the Yellow Sub branding on t-shirts

We work hard to bring our clients vision to life and the journey so far with Yellow Sub has been fun, creatively challenging, but enjoyable all round. The current touchpoints created to date for Yellow Sub are: brand guidelines, logo packs and templates for the guys to use to sell their wares, animations to help digest complex scenarios and a website to act as the shop window into the soul of the business. All these things have come together through openness, creative freedom and collaboration. The Yellow Sub team have spent a few weeks here at Orchard making use of our bookable spaces, settling in, making tea and bouncing ideas around with the creative team to ensure every crumb of content fits the story. We have found that our studio environment helps forge great working relationships with clients. I have to say, it’s been great having Alex and Gareth on hand working directly with our creative people, being reactive to changes and testing ideas on paper and on screen.

How do we get a website done?

Content is king, it really is! It helps inform design, layout and approach to information delivery. The website content was fleshed out well in advance by Alex, Gareth and their associates. With the structure and most of the content in place, it provided us with more time and scope to generate several visuals. It also allowed the guys to gather suitable images, case studies and testimonials to help tell the story of Yellow Sub – Geo, Hydro and Solutions in an honest, visual way.

During this time we demonstrated ‘Symphony CMS’ as a content management framework to the Yellow Sub team. It’s become our go-to system for building flexible website structures of late. It’s almost the open source equivalent of Craft CMS with a few more years under its belt and the creative team at Orchard are part of the working group that contribute to the Symphony CMS project.

In the mix of content review, it was established that we'd need a great hook to explain to potential Yellow Sub clients what exactly land regeneration entails. What better way to represent this than a short animated sequence! The task was given to our resident guru Mathew Bevan who brought the concept to life in a few weeks. This visual now forms the basis for the home page infographic and presentation openers.  

This is the beginning for Alex and Gareth, it’s also the beginning for Orchard on that journey with them. We’re super excited to push this project out there and have lots of work planned to help elevate the creative to the next level. Keep an eye out for #yellowsubversion, #yellowsublime and #livelifeyellow in the future. Onwards and upwards gents! Your journey has just begun…

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