The making of a brand identity fit for brand designers
Rethink won in the Brand Identity category at The Drum Awards for Design for its work with the Association of Registered Graphic Designers. Here’s the award-winning case study.
Rethink's award-winning work
The Challenges and Goals
The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) is Canada’s largest professional association for graphic designers. In 2023, they introduced the RGD Branding Awards – a new award program to celebrate the best in branding and design from around the globe.
We were tasked with the challenge of creating a brand identity for RGD Branding Awards that would attract a panel of international design judges and motivate design studios from around the world to submit entries.
The Insights and Strategy
To celebrate the most notable branding and design from around the world, we drew inspiration from branding’s most overlooked symbol: the registered trademark (®) — and used it to create the entire identity for RGD Branding Awards.
The Execution, Creativity, and Craft
First, using nothing more than the ® symbol, we designed a custom typeface – Registered Grotesk – that features more than 160 unique characters, multi-language support, and a host of OpenType features. Each character pushed the limits of what's possible with traditional type design programs, with many characters having over 6000 Bézier control points (BCP).
Then, we extended the ®-only system by developing a dynamic suite of graphics for both static and moving executions. These were used in both print and digital outreach material.
We even exclusively used ®s to painstakingly re-create portraits for each of the
internationally acclaimed judges, giving them a bespoke asset for social media outreach.
Ultimately, we used nothing but the ® to create the entire identity system, taking branding’s most overlooked symbol and turning it into something worth celebrating.
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The Results and Impact
Immediately upon launch, the ®-based brand identity had an impact, helping RGD attract an enviable line up of jury members from around the world, including: Astrid Stavro (VP, Collins UK), Forest Young (former CCO, Wolff Olins, USA), Shaun Loftman (ECD, Landor & Fitch, UK), Jennifer Kinon (Founding Partner, Champions Design, USA), Helen Keyes (Global Head of Brand, Philips, Netherlands), and many others.
Additionally, the brand identity was widely praised by the design community at large. Most notably, Brand New – the world's leading source for opinions on branding and identity design – applauded the identity for being “mesmerizing”.
The ®-centric design system even won the hearts of the global design jury at Cannes Lions 2023, winning a Design Lion in the “Creation of a New Brand Identity” category – making RGD Branding Awards one of only three entries from around the world to do so, out of a possible 985 submissions.
Most importantly, the design system helped RGD Branding Awards become RGD’s most successful program launch to date – surpassing their projected revenue from entry fees by over 200%.