Blackmill Rebranding

Late last year we decided we wanted to update our logo, and branding, and engaged Lucy Rogers of Luxe Design to work with us.

We spent some time exploring the idea of renaming the company because, when in noisy environments, others sometimes mishear the name as "Blackmail". We also suspected there was a disconnect between the associations we saw of a factory with our approach and philosophy.

However, after some deliberations, we decided to stick with the current name. The main reasons were:

  1. Asking people about what they think of when they hear "Blackmill", they said that rather than thinking of a factory, they think of "fine-milled, solid, crafted, handmade, personal, and artisan".
  2. We've convinced ourselves that correcting misunderstandings about the name makes it more memorable.

The name explorations were incredibly helpful, as they provided us with a dictionary of terms around what we do and who we are, which helped with the branding and design ideas.

One of the names we considered — a concept that we kept returning to — was "increments". By definition an increment is a step toward a vision or goal. It's scientific, measurable, precise, and iterative. It ties into so much of what we care about in our approach that we've incorporated it into our branding textually and visually.

Incremental improvements guided the design of the new logo, with a ruler and incremental marks that gradually increase in distance as your eye moves towards the right — subtly indicating progress and growth.

Logos comparison

We also wanted to incorporate incremental and continuous improvement in our branding, but the sentences that we came up with were way too long to fit on a business card, until, with Lucy's help, we settled on the simplicity of: "Incrementally better".

New logo with

It also works really beautifully with our new avatar, Sean. The other day somebody called Seanie a Canadian Southparkian, but we view them as a friendly robot. An embodiment of gentle automation and process. We discovered they also work great as a fridge magnet (get in touch if you want one).

Lucy created mockups of the new logo with various branding artefacts, such as our website, a business card, a T-shirt, a notebook, a drink bottle, and various social media websites. This exercise was super useful to gauge how the new logo and avatar work on various mediums. She also mocked the new logo with different backgrounds and variations.

Logo and avatars mockups

With the business cards, we decided to go with Moo UK cards sizes, which is closer to standard AU business card sizes. For brand colour palette, Lucy suggested adding a touch of raw sandy colour to add warmth, make the design pop, and to give us freedom to use natural paper colours in future merchandise design. The first design for the business card, had the logo colour inverted on a black background. However, switching the background colour of the two sides was just so much (incrementally!) better. We wanted to make the business card stand out, and decided to print the cards with a raised spot gloss on the logo and Sean.

Business back with defined raised spot gloss area

We didn't want to use traditional job titles on the cards. They presume too much common understanding of a role. We prefer to have a conversation about what we actually do. Still, the design called for something to be there and, once again we could only come up with sentences that were too long. However, trying to distill the longer sentence to its essence, we ended up with: "Thoughtful engineering practices".

New business cards

We also updated our website with the new logo, avatar, colour scheme, and selected typefaces. Go ahead and check it out

Writing the above makes it seems very straightforward. What is not so obvious is the iterative process of feedback loops, and fine refinements of each step and item along the way. We are very happy with the current design, and are very grateful for Lucy's patience with us along the way.

We welcome you to share your thoughts with us, of the new branding, and the process we went through to get here.

Also, if you need help with your engineering practices, please do get in touch:

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