When one says that Brandstorm “does not sell anything,” that is not exactly correct. The repositioning of the Messe Basel into BaselWorld along with its new logo was done by Brandstorm. The stands of DKNY, Armani, Burberry, Fossil, Diesel, and Zodiac at the fair were designed by Brandstorm. The completely new look of one of the most famous bracelets of contemporary watchmaking (the brand wants to remain anonymous) was created by Brandstorm. In an entirely different sector to the watch industry, a new concept of ‘sandwicherie’, is also due to Brandstorm.
What connects these very diverse projectsı The answer is one and only one approach that begins with the most detailed analysis possible of the ‘brand’.
“To design a pen, invent a new concept for fast-food or imagine the name of BaselWorld, it amounts to the same thing," explains Raphaël Henry, the young founder of Brandstorm. “Above all else, we try to understand the essence of the brand in question. If this does not exist, we work to define it and create it. Everything is done as a function of the brand. What counts is first a global vision, and it is only in relation to this global vision that concrete steps can evolve.”
The example of Baselworld
Brandstorm’s activities for the Messe Basel is exemplary of this process. As the winner of the competition that dealt only, in the beginning, with the creation of a new logo, Brandstorm was not content to act simply as a graphic artist but began by building a global concept that related to the identity of this large annual watch and jewellery fair. As a function of this global concept, a name, a visual identity, and a logo were conceived. Brandstorm even analyzed the manner in which the logo could be conveyed to the public, the way it would look on the building, the way to advertise it, how to introduce it audio-visually to the media, the manner it could be grandly inaugurated.
The big picture
“We always try to look at the ‘big picture’ of the problem before us. For example, making a simple display case for three watches means, in our opinion, thinking about the ‘globality’ of the brand, the same as if it were an enormous project. For a brand, there is no such thing as a ‘little thing’,” insists Raphaël Henry.
“If I were to take another example,” he continues, “it would be how to design a watch. Contrary to a classical designer who wants to impose his own style and inspiration, the response of Brandstorm would be to make a specific analysis of the brand in light of its own development. This analysis must go beyond the surface, not stopping at mere appearances. It needs a strategic approach to find the creative solution. This solution must, of course, be the best and the strongest possible, but it also must be in keeping with the overall strategy of the brand.”
Realism and expertise
This approach would remain purely conceptual if Brandstorm did not have the required level of expertise. “The creative solution,” adds Henry, “is analyzed in a very realistic manner. Brandstorm has a high level of in-house expertise in the areas of strategic thinking, pure design, graphic design, architecture, and project management. We also dispose of a network of external expertise in many other domains. This is one of the specific advantages of Brandstorm. We have ‘nothing to sell’ in the way of square metres, advertising signs, or other physical paraphernalia… nothing except our ability to analyze, to gain mastery over budgets and over methods of production. Because our activity is based on strategic analysis, we have the tools and skills necessary to precisely estimate the costs of various types and levels of intervention, involvement or activity. And, these can be very different. But, in the end, there is fundamentally no difference between working on a micro-project for a small independent producer or planning a vast campaign for a large group. It is only a question of scale.”
Adding value because of brand recognition is a primary goal of the small and flexible team at Brandstorm. Working in a variety of domains, and already well established in the world of watches, the young enterprise continues to develop its activities, whether for independents, new brands, or the large barons of fine watchmaking.
While the notion and the importance of the ‘brand’ is already well recognized and established in the watch industry, there is a neighbouring discipline that, as a whole, remains largely indifferent to the ‘branding’ concept, that is, the jewellery sector. Brandstorm sees this as fertile ground to develop.
Born in Geneva in 1968, Raphaël Henry is a graduate of the School of Architecture at the University of Geneva and of the Arts Center College of Design in Los Angeles. He began his professional career with the branding company, Arnell, in New York. Among others, it developed the sales points for the brand Rena Lange in the USA. Hired by the Fossil group, Henry directed the department of Design and Environment for the brand in Dallas. After returning to Switzerland, he created Brandstorm in 2002. Among his clients, the Fossil group demonstrates its continuing confidence in the young entrepreneur by conferring the management of the architectural universe of its brands Fossil, Diesel, Burberry, Emporio Armani, DKNY, Starck+ and Zodiac to Brandstorm. In 2003, Henry created the identity and related aspects of the new BaselWorld brand for the Messe Basel.