Studio Dumbar’s new identity for Visser & Smith Marine Contracting is in the grand tradition of Dutch graphic design studios providing serious industrial concerns with powerful, quirky marks
Visser & Smith Marine Contracting are specialists in laying offshore power cables. All those windfarms you admire from the plane window as you cross the channel? These guys connect them up. Recently, Boskalis, a dredging company, and construction giant VolkerWessels took the business over with a view to international expansion. The new ownership structure and new ambition required a name change and brand update, which is where Studio Dumbar stepped in.
Now known as VBMS (for VolkerWessels Boskalis Marine Solutions) Studio Dumbar gave the new firm a new positioning and a powerful wordmark. Supposedly, the ‘M’ dipping beneath the baseline suggests ‘grid-to-grid connectivity’. Maybe. I just love its strength and its quirkiness. It’s like something that could have come out of the glory days of Total Design.
Sure, I’m never likely to make use of VBMS’s cable-laying expertise, but nor was I ever a prospective customer of Randstad or any of the other Dutch firms whose distinctive marks got me so interested in the world of graphic design.
No fancy patterns, no gradients or clumsy, literal graphic allusions to connectivity or power, just great, bold type applied using a simple black and silver colour palette (no Live Surfaced tote bags or T-shirts in the presentation either – a coffee cup is as fancy as it gets).
Yes, the world of branding moves on. Yes, organisations need systems that can work across all kinds of media, in a huge variety of contexts. Yes, it’s great to have adaptive and/or flexible identities, but sometimes a distinctive, bold bit of type is just what’s required. Love it.