Feelink: Crafting identity
Text: Pierre Antoine Zahnd | Photos: Feelink
Based in Brussels, Feelink is a creative design studio specialising in brand identity conception. From the original concept to brand identity, logocrafting, typography, edition and communication strategy, it offers comprehensive guidance throughout the creative process that allows a brand to identify its DNA and define how it wishes to be perceived. Its founder, François Houtmans, combines a career- long knowledge of visual communication with a modern, futureforward attitude to the philosophy and practice of design. To François, “creativity is intelligence having a good time.” To that end, he has assembled a small-scale team of young specialists who together provide a comprehensive, step-by step accompaniment that paves the way from a simple idea to a powerful visual product. Below, François and his team share a few thoughts on the art of creating brand identity out of shapes and symbols.
What is meant by the ‘visual identity’ of a brand?
Creative team: It is the image that a business, an institution or an organisation presents to its audience. It contains its values, its energy and its ambitions. Visual identity is the whole of its different graphic, auditory, and sensory elements, put together in a cohesive way.
François: A brand’s visual identity allows us to recognise it at first glance, thus to identify it and assimilate it to the environment in which it appears. It is articulated through keywords that define the brand’s DNA as well as its purpose. From these keywords, we elaborate colour codes and shapes to match the clients’ purpose. We use these elements to ‘dress’ the brand, making it identifiable with the target audience.
The world of design is vast. What do you find particularly compelling in the conception of a brand’s image?
Creative team: Being able to create, through design, a language both personal and distinctive, in order to foreground the client’s history, the essence of the brand. To do this thoughtfully and successfully is a fascinating challenge.
François: Brand image conception must allow cohesion between the brand, the business behind it, and the values it represents for the consumer or B2B client. The goal is to gather and select what arguments will be presented to and foreground its powerful aspects. The message should be simple, clear and specific, and its repetition should enable brand assimilation and recognition in the audience. Thus the message is the brand’s signature, and it is often the simplest elements (a shape, a colour) that have the most impact.
This research work is both essential and fascinating: it is a building block for the dialogue between the design team and the client company. It is a vital step because there must be balance and mutual understanding between the two.
What are some key factors to successful communication?
Creative team: When communication relies on a strong concept, tells a story, and passes on the brand’s philosophy, it succeeds. It should be universal, understandable by all, and easily memorisable. It is important to define the mission, the vision and the values of the brand in order to render them as faithfully as possible. Beyond this, clarity and efficiency are also two main aspects.
A good logo should allow the brand to ‘speak’. Do you consider design to be a language?
Creative team: Design is a visual medium, through which emotions, ideas and values can be perceived on an instinctive level. Playing on collective codes, it allows us to express a particular idea. Various typographies, shapes, and arrangements all elicit a different sensation that the audience may not be able to express, but that it will understand unconsciously.
François: Design is evidently a language, but also the medium through which a brand can synthesise what it stands for. Beyond the logo, however, the name itself is very important, through what it symbolises and the references it makes.
Would you see yourselves more as being creators, in that you create designs, or as mediators, between brand and consumer?
Creative team: We are mediators in that we often help our clients formulate the message that they wish to send, through workshops and meetings. We accompany them in their strategic choices, and facilitate the establishment of their brand.
However, we are creators in that our job is to create shapes that will send a message, and bring out an emotional response.
To you, a dream project would be…
Creative team: We would love to work on a project that is aimed at a wide audience, is thought-provoking, and stirs curiosity around it. We would like it to benefit others, whether it is linked to education or to a specific cause. We also find it interesting when a project shows a lot of originality, which allows it to demarcate itself and to play a social role.
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