Hub Strategy on Creating Integrated Brand Identity

Take a quick survey of Hub Strategy’s work, and you’ll know they’re not just another branding agency. What they produce is quirky and unconventional, boisterous and clever, sleek and beautifully simple brand identity across media. And consistently, what makes them stand out is their absolute dedication to design—on all levels.

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Hub designed fine art photographer Kevin Twomey’s brand identity, collateral and website.

“A brand is the sum of its parts. Every part needs to count,” says Peter Judd, creative director. “When I joined Hub, I was looking to leave a traditional advertising agency for a place operating in a different fashion, in a way that was really set up to deliver fully-integrated campaigns. To me, that meant design became a much bigger part of the work. At ad agencies, sure, we took on logo work every now and then, but it was never given anywhere near the attention or credit. I wanted to be in a shop that looked at a logo and said that’s as important of a part as the outdoor campaign or the 30-second TV shot.”

Hub Strategy on Business + Collateral Projects

Many ad agencies would turn down (or turn their noses up at) a collateral project, but Hub sees it differently. “For us it’s a really important part of how the consumer experiences the business. The collateral should connect to the consumer in the same sort of way as the traditional stuff,” says Judd.

As a result, their design portfolio isn’t just filled with award-winning advertising campaigns, but also award-winning design work: logos, packaging, print collateral and website design—all fully integrated. “We’re really proud of that stuff,” says Jason Rothman, associate creative director.

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Hub completely reinvented Chevy’s Tex Mex brand from chain-typical—down to napkins, menus and posters—with illustration and vintage wood type.

Now, this atypical—but clearly effective—approach to branding is reflected in the less-than-conventional how they work day-to-day. “Our business model is different,” says Rothman. “And it applies directly to the way we approach design, as well as advertising.” Hub was set up to be able to deliver top-notch design work, and to develop and implement creative campaigns from start to finish.

“We needed serious design chops here,” says Judd, and their business model allows for that: Hub operates as a core staff of account managers, strategists, and creative directors with a wide network of top-tier, freelancing creative specialists—which they have dedicated many years to developing and are still constantly growing.

“It becomes a selling point too, when the client knows the caliber of the people we’re putting on the business. With a lot of the bigger shops, the pitch people come in and sell the campaign, but you don’t know if you’re getting the “A” team, “B” team or “C” team actually working on the project,” says Judd. “With this model, we’re always able to put the best people for the job, on the job. And our freelancers aren’t last minute hired guns—they stay on and see their work through production, which is more attractive to them.”

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Press kits are innovative, like this personalized, interactive shadowbox to release Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.

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 And this sleek, experimental piece for Sephora.

Part of what makes their approach work so well is the flexibility it provides them to master new technologies and aspects of design. For example: Interactive work.

Hub Strategy on Digital + Interactive Design

Over 50 percent of Hub’s work is digital in some way; they have designed many websites, apps, and landing pages. And like logos and print collateral, they realize that digital is a critical way that consumers interact with brands. “For so many brands these days, their website is their storefront. It has to be great. That’s where people to go to learn about the company. Talking about expressing your brand, how you speak about your traditional campaign is going to be expressed on the website too,” says Judd.

“It’s about finding the developer side that’s equally invested in the design and the final look of the project.” – Jason Rothman, associate creative director

Rather than having to struggle to build their own skilled, in-house digital team, they’re able to find the best in the business and partner with them. “Interactive is a whole other world, but it’s so tightly tied to our side. It’s essential. You have to find the right partners who you really trust, and who know their shit way better than you could ever even want to know it. Working with people on the development end who get design and geek out on design is super key,” says Rothman.

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The Smart Spot app, designed by Hub for the smart car.

So what projects are they most proud of? Turns out, they’re the projects fully utilized by the Hub business model. “They are some of the projects that we started working on from the very start, when the client had nothing,” says Rothman. “When we’d figure out the position and mission, and do everything from name them to design their logo and packaging to create their website and collateral to develop their advertising campaign—and everything in between.”

“That’s really the point of how the whole integrated setup can actually work. Those key threads of what the brands are about run through every piece because the same people are running everything.”

Hub at Home in San Francisco

In their San Francisco studio, the vibe is a positive one. “Peter and I are usually DJ-ing, getting some tunes pumping,” says Rothman. “Whether its punk rock or gnarly hip hop, it’s just fun. I’ve been to many agencies, and that’s’ not the norm. It’s usually a bunch of guys with headphones on. But we’re talking and laughing and working on stuff together. It goes a long way.”

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Hub created this collatoral and more for Slingbox.

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