Building for the Future
Client: Thompson Thrift
Thompson Thrift is a full-service real estate company with three core business units: multifamily and luxury leased housing, retail, and construction. With each of their business units operating in their own lanes, Thompson Thrift needed to connect their services with the core brand to strengthen their overall brand presence and engagement. The solution was a consistent visual identity and a holistic design system that could unify their marketing approach for both the core brand and business units.
A consistent visual identity
To kick off the rebranding process, Co-motion conducted strategy meetings with their leadership team and team members across all three business units. Learning about Thompson Thrift’s business and getting to know their team allowed us to identify how the brand needed to evolve and grow with the company. Two consistent themes bubbled to the top:
- The existing Thompson Thrift logo was problematic.
The logo had scalability issues. It was difficult to use in small space executions and special use cases like embroidery and signage. Whether we moved forward with a new logo or updated the existing one, this challenge needed to be addressed.
- The new identity had to pass the airplane test.
If a person boarded a plane and sat in-between a Thompson Thrift employee and a business unit employee, would they know that they worked for the same company? It was important that other people recognized the Thompson Thrift brand in any setting. How could we visually connect all of their business units with the core brand?
After completing both internal and external research, Co-motion built two brand architecture structures for Thompson Thrift — a branded house and a house of brands. Each option presented its own set of opportunities and challenges.
- A branded house
A branded house is a unified, consistent brand across the entire company. In this model, the company is the brand. This model would allow all of Thompson Thrift’s business units to share the same logomark and visually match the core brand. A strong, unified brand would allow their audience to recognize and better understand their services. It would also transition easily into a focused marketing strategy that could increase brand awareness.
- A house of brands
In a house of brands, the core brand and business unit brands are different. This model would allow each business unit to have its own identity, target a specific audience, and advertise in different markets. We would use a descriptor tagline (A THOMPSON THRIFT COMPANY) to tie each business unit back to the core brand.
After deep discussions around both directions, it became clear that a hybrid model — a mix of a branded house and a house of brands — would be the best fit. This strategy would allow Thompson Thrift to promote their core brand and also market to specific audiences with different messaging since their segments ranged from investors to residents to tenants to subcontractors, depending on the business unit. Their team also concluded that their multifamily residential business unit had strong brand equity that was valuable to Thompson Thrift. By keeping their name under a new Thompson Thrift brand, we wouldn’t disrupt their growth in the market. The remaining two business units would be treated as a house of brands to the Thompson Thrift core brand.
Once the brand architecture was finalized, Co-motion explored logo options. Thompson Thrift had embraced their iconic T mark for the last 30 years. An update to their existing logo — instead of a complete overhaul — would give us the opportunity to build upon their existing foundation.
As we refreshed the old logo, the following was addressed:
- The T mark was rebuilt on a mathematical grid that uses equidistant diagonal lines and allows the end points to have equally-sized right triangles.
- A uniform, geometric sans serif typeface was selected to increase legibility of the logomark at a small scale.
- The logomark was repositioned to a stacked orientation (vs. one line) to condense the width of the logo and increase legibility at a small scale.
- The logo color was updated to a deeper blue that maintained stability and strength for Thompson Thrift.
A holistic design system
With an approved logo, a new visual identity was built. This included new typography, brand colors, graphic elements, and iconography.
To strengthen their message hierarchy, two typefaces were chosen for the Thompson Thrift brand. The first was Tiempos Headline, a modern serif that strikes a balance between practicality and elegance that is used for headlines, quotes, and call outs. The second was Infra, a fresh take on a geometric sans serif that’s friendly and inviting that is used for sub headlines and body copy. Depending on the size, usage, and type of collateral, Tiempos Headline and Infra can be paired together in a variety of ways for a flexible yet consistent execution.
The brand color palette was refreshed and expanded. With a sturdy dark blue as our foundation, a vibrant red-orange and a mix of monochromatic blues and grays were added to balance it out.
The graphic, diagonal lines in the Thompson Thrift T mark inspired us to explore how we could incorporate classic pinstripe lines throughout their brand collateral. The pinstripe lines quickly became a corner anchor for most of our deliverables and were animated on digital assets to add movement and allude to the company’s growth.
Iconography is an opportunity to convey an idea or concept in an interesting way. This can be especially helpful in complex material like investor books or annual reports where the content has more depth to it. For Thompson Thrift, we created a set of real estate-related icons to depict their most frequently used categories or concepts. This set added visual interest and simplified complex ideas into individual unique symbols.
All of the brand assets were compiled into one main library and delivered with a 40-page brand guidelines that outlined the brand voice, design system, and brand collateral. For an in-house marketing team, a brand guidelines book is a great resource that demonstrates how to execute a brand that is both consistent and compliant to the standards put in place.
While the development of a new brand takes great planning and strategy, the launch of a new brand is equally important. It’s an opportunity to bring your team together to celebrate and get excited about this new direction. It’s also a chance to reach out to stakeholders and partners to announce your new look. Alongside Thompson Thrift marketing, Co-motion planned two separate brand launches. Internally, company swag was gifted to every team member and a new look landing page was created to officially announce Thompson Thrift’s new look. Externally, a nationwide press release was distributed and a digital announcement was pushed out on all social media channels.
Working with a local design firm on our rebrand initiative created a true team environment. Co-motion became an extension of our Thompson Thrift family and did a great job entrenching themselves into our culture, which is key to creating a campaign that clearly communicates our core values as a company as well as the breadth and depth of our services.
Lori Wick, Vice President of Marketing
Invest in yourself
Rebranding isn’t easy, but Thompson Thrift recognized that their brand represents their company in their offices, communities, and markets. And, more importantly, that the care you put into your brand represents the care you put into your services. With this new brand, Thompson Thrift will be well represented for years to come.