The ‘Born Makers’ era of Bonne Marque, created during our Summer 2015 rebrand and set to retire with the launch of our next portfolio in 2017, is deliberately confrontational and honest. This victory of art over business, of spirit over sense, and of truth over diplomacy are victories from which Bonne Marque has never looked back.
My creative partnership with Alexander Engzell (design) — see Editing Engzell.me for an early chapter of our collaboration — reached a new level with the 2015 rebranding of Bonne Marque. This new morning of Bonne Marque proclaimed the ‘Born Makers’ era. Alex and I penned our agency’s imitative slogan (note the onomatopoeic similarities to ‘Bonne Marque’) and the creative madness followed. Everything within this case study is evidence of an intense and in depth working relationship between designer and writer, the results of which could not have been achieved by any other pairing in our industry.
What does ‘Born Makers’ mean? The shorthand answer is ‘Creative’ and we’re showing our industry what creativity actually looks like. For the full answer, I invite you to visit www.bonnemarque.se, read my Medium articles, follow the work we do with other brands, and spend time with us.
So many ‘creative’ agencies describe themselves as a ‘creative agency’ but isn’t that a little uncreative? Such apathy and depression thrives where creativity is stunted by safe-thinking and fat project managers, and by restrained copywriters afraid to stand with poets, or advised not to.
The ‘copy’ in your title doesn’t mean what you appear to think it means, copywriters. At Bonne Marque, the title is ‘writers’ and the pursuit is ‘creativity,’ which means making something new. It was with mindset that Alex and I approached every element of our agency’s brand and website. First, our brand statement.
I came to advertising from a half-life of poetry and fiction, determined to do my utmost to rid the industry of cliche, pun and jargon. This doubled with the necessity to work with design, presenting inventive ideas that also appear aesthetically astounding and brand consistent, led Alex and I to ‘The Grid.’ Twelve words carved deep into the dark landing page landscape light sporadically, forming short declarative sentences — with the exception of one question — that define Bonne Marque. The pioneering reason behind the brand statement’s success is the almost immoral amount we communicate with twelve simple words. Compare ‘The Grid’ with the brand statements of other companies. Make a note of what you learn in ours and what you learn in theirs. Don’t be fooled into thinking our twelve words took days or even weeks to complete. Think months.
It was at this point that Alex had changed my name around the office to ‘Art Director Sam,’ a thinly veiled encouragement for me to take an even more engaged part in the design process. Together, we composed a thousand variations of titles for our about page that defined the ‘Born Makers’ brand. Thousands is no exaggeration; I have documented proof of this long summer that proves this statement tenfold. And the denouement: ‘Cut from black diamonds.’
‘Cut’ expresses our bold nature and the fact that we will never again employ a project manager type. Our clients cut straight through the sales bullshit and speak to creatives from day one. ‘Black’ is our brand in a colour; dark, brooding, controversial and bold. And we listen to Hip-Hop in the office most days. ‘Diamonds’ are lucrative, expensive and high end, and we value our work. Not bad with just four words, which, upon selecting, we turned our attention to design and Alex created the dark landscape on which the sentence thrives.
With titles on the site reading like lines lifted from poems, our case studies are chapters from a novel. Enticing introductions to the case studies, first on the homepage and then as a title to each case study, prepare the reader for what’s to come: an uncommonly honest account of being a part of the creative industry; an industry that can often be tough and unkind to creatives.
Bonne Marque have been ‘called out’ on social media, sometimes by high-ranking creatives from respected agencies, for our ‘direct’ style that has been misinterpreted as condescending towards our clients, but we are simply writing honestly, and honesty can often be shocking. We aren’t expressing anything that other creatives haven’t experienced, but we are openly sharing them and some people find that uncomfortable. Bonne Marque decided long ago, however, that honesty is a virtue we value, and we refuse to live like hypocrites who sit silent and afraid of sharing the truth.
It would be remiss of me to spend this entire section on the honesty within our case studies, for this is simply the style of voice with which we use. The actual content — what we’re saying, not how we’re saying it — is far more interesting. Readers learn as much about our creative process as possible, from drafting ideas, sketching, designing, writing and development, and how we talk to our clients. Our aim is to give each reader the closest impression of how we work without actually having to work with us. We trust this will convince potential clients and fellow creatives to want to work with us.
Other pieces of writing elsewhere that have contributed to the new brand of Bonne Marque have been equally important and arguably even stronger, but it might be wise to leave a little mystery here. As much as I would enjoy myself, I shouldn’t review it all.
Some of our writing should remain confidential too. Our proposal, for example, represents some of my finest writing anywhere: a poem of creative madness born to inspire clients into commitment, and it works. You really ought to hear what some of our clients say. One memorable proposal convinced a client to pay 300% over their budget, for example. Our clients have never read any proposal that competes, and perhaps they are the only outsiders who can understand what a ‘Born Makers’ is.
And that’s the purpose of writing for a brand, to ensure readers everywhere understand, in as few sentences as possible, its core identity and specific style. And few brands communicate as much unique strength as ours.