Designing the future of hand-crafted ski equipment
Creating an ambitious new brand to disrupt the UK's premium ski equipment industry
Brand position, name and visual identity for Roc Noir, a boutique retailer of custom-built ski equipment and clothing. Based in London and focused on the confident off-piste skier, Roc Noir challenges a saturated market with a fresh brand voice and a unique array of carefully produced supporting materials, including printed collateral, multi-lingual eCommerce website and advertising campaigns. The Roc Noir brand has won several awards over the years, resulting in a successful acquisition.
Brand Strategy, Brand Identity, Print Design, Digital Design, Content Creation
Developing a coherent proposition
As with many brand creation exercises, the first step in the creative process was to research and develop a coherent proposition for the new brand, finding an area of the ski equipment industry that could be credibly owned and nurtured. Following extensive research groups and strategy workshops, we agreed that the new business should focus on niche products with a premium, customisable edge. This brand position would deliberately step away from the established industry players while giving a voice to smaller product producers — the proposition would also empower discerning ski enthusiasts, give them a unique service that was not previously available.
Defining the target audience
During the brand articulation phase, we identified several core audiences on which we would build the brand. These audiences ranged from high-income consumers to small business suppliers and sought to create a network of empowered enthusiasts engaged in the culture of non-conventional winter sports.
Creating a name to stand out from the crowd
Once we had successfully established a clear idea of the ideal brand position, we looked to create a universally understood name that would reflect the character and values of the business. Unlike Verbier, Lech and Whistler, the Roc Noir mountain range in Southern France is not traditionally considered a ski resort. This perception is mainly due to its rugged, remote nature and challenging runs — it has, however, built up a cult following among the adventurous off-piste community looking for something a little more demanding. The Roc Noir range also features an iconic ‘double peak’ with two ambitious runs, each categorised as ‘black diamond’ difficulty. These unique traits helped to inspire the visual identity, which uses a double black diamond symbol with the ‘RN’ letters inset; this shows to the initiated that the brand is for them and them alone.
A brand identity to focus on hand-crafted detail
Influenced by stone-carved typography and the monolithic nature of the Roc Noir mountain range, we crafted a unique identity system to help this niche retailer stand out from the crowd. We introduced tactile printing methods such as letterpress to reinforce the brand focus on quality while subtly referencing delicate snow impressions. To build a unique brand personality, we also took inspiration from the classic visual language of ski signage, which uses high-contrast typography to avoid getting lost in the snow. This juxtaposition balances premium craftsmanship with mountain safety, two character traits inherent within the Roc Noir brand.
'The union of stark and geometric mountainous forms and loosely rendered typography really draw my attention to this identity project. There is a distinctive and almost high fashion sensibility to the logo-mark that immediately stands it apart from the frenetic and ‘cool’ identities that saturate this market. The static and solid construction of the container gives it a very durable aesthetic neatly reflecting the very foundation of the sport while the loosely rendered characters of the logo-type softens this with an almost human quality creating a very strong, man vs nature analogy. The stencilled aesthetic carries the usual utilitarian and functional undertones that neatly characterise the products and the straightforward informative nature of the service while also managing to reflect the forms of ski equipment in their subtle curves and cutting diagonals. The black and white photography, heavy white borders and accompanying sans serif all work together across the collaterals to reinforce the idea of fashion, functionality and high quality.'
Writer & Editor, BP&O
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