Before I tell you how we became Fortus, for those who don’t know us, it’s important you know who we are and what we do.
In short, we’re business advisors and accountants collaborating with business owners and their teams to help them achieve success through supporting them with anything from accounts and tax to corporate finance, property challenges and HR… and, in case you were in any doubt, we love what we do!
So, just over six months in and am I happy? Well, for someone who ashamedly admits to suffering from low level OCD, is a perfectionist (also not good, but it has its place in my line of work) and believes ‘there’s no excuse for bad design’… yes, I’m happy – very happy!
Fortus was ‘born’ in April this year – well, in its physical form at least, and without celebration due to lockdown. The approach to creating any new brand requires ‘another level’ of creative thinking – What should we call ourselves and why? What colour palette should we go for? What font? How do we articulate ‘this, that and the other’ effectively over so many existing and future brand ‘assets’? What about legibility, print quality, screen DPI, colour match, colour mismatch? Social formats – Twitter, LinkedIn, Insta – it either works or doesn’t over the differing channels and platforms. And what about the web URLs, strapline, trademarking and ‘tone of voice’? Wherever our brand was likely to feature, it had to do so in a compelling way. Period!
Our starting point was to scrutinise our competitors and also take inspiration from brands outside of the professional services market as we didn’t want to be ‘just another player’. Then a ‘discovery session’ facilitated by an external partner for independence to help us analyse six crucial elements that would impact and shape our brand. Having done this, our challenge was to reduce 129 brand attributes down to just one per area – if there wasn’t unanimous agreement, it got ‘binned’. We settled on – Culture (Knowledgeable), Clients (Ambitious), Voice (Passionate), Benefit (Supportive), Value (Reassurance) and X-Factor (Courageous).
Our already established brand values of Distinctive, Inclusive, Valuable and Courageous, agreed in the previous year by our company-wide team of 200-plus, also came into play at this point, as we knew they’d impact both the name choice and ultimately inform the visual brand identity across numerous touchpoints.
Choosing a new brand name’s tough, trust me. We tabled and considered 24 in total and steadily narrowed these down against a self-imposed criteria checklist. Was it easy to say, hear and spell? Did it have an optimal blend of differentiation and market fit? An inherent strength and esteem in its sound? And critically, did its meaning align to our business and organisational culture?
On presentation to the senior team, we secured a unanimous 16/16 ‘blind’ selection for Fortus – our Brand, Creative & Marketing team’s first choice – an earlier iteration of ‘fortis’, meaning ‘strong, brave, powerful and mighty’. So, you can see how our strapline ‘Where knowledge, strength and courage deliver on ambition’ evolved.
So, now on to the design and visual ID. We chose a heavy font to accentuate the strength attribute in particular, but we wanted even more distinction and if possible, a design element embedded in the font which could be exploited across the entire visual identity. We also wanted modern fonts to reflect a modern business, so, for headings and body copy we went with Norwester, Montserrat and Century Gothic respectively.
By slashing the bottom of the F and introducing a hexagon in place of the O, (the hexagon’s known as the strongest and most efficient shape in the world), we further embedded positive traits and a distinct, flexible graphic element into the ID. Not content with using a signature colour other firms were using, we created our own ‘Orello’, a blend of Orange and Yellow, depending on how your eyes see it. This now forms a highly distinctive element of the brand and, along with black, white, grey, moonstone (off-white) and gold, makes up our colour palette. All good so far, but we still had to secure the appropriate trademarks for both the name and design elements. No easy task – cue endless sleepless nights and sweaty palms.
With the brand name, palette and, where appropriate, our ‘slash’ now featuring on everything from a soft touch pen or PowerPoint to office walls or our client-led ad campaign, it’s fair to say the design’s as joined up as it can be and gives more than a nod to the fact that a brand that’s consistent in its presentation’s more memorable and stands out significantly greater than one that’s ‘all over the place’.
Fortus’ ‘tone of voice’ presents us as being passionate but not obsessive, distinctive but not bizarre, straightforward rather than blunt and normal (whatever that is nowadays) but not over-familiar. When it comes to imagery, many of our visual assets use a mix of internally shot images (everyone has a soft touch business card with their personal picture on) and ‘treated’ stock images, which are more playful, less corporate and present us as ‘professionals with
And to top it all, we shot a brand film using the analogy of an individual (our client) training for a triathlon with their training partner (a member of our Fortus team) who’s beside them every step of the way to help them achieve success. The film heroed across all our social channels and carefully crafted website on day one.
So, to sum up, our brand name, positioning, look and content had to be clear, concise, human and engaging. Has the team achieved that? Well, I’d like to think so – we’ve had great feedback from stakeholders both internally and outside of the business – and all feel we have a brand to be proud of. That said, we won’t be resting on our laurels as we know this is just the start of our journey and we all contribute to building the brand. Why? Because #WeAreFortus… ‘one team, with many talents’.
Contact Fortus Business Advisors & Accountants at www.fortus.co.uk or call 01604 746760.