Delivering brand clarity to a complex multidisciplinary company and its subsidiaries, empowering them to harness their growth potential.
Safety - maritime, energy, resources
Branding; Brand Strategy, Brand Architecture, Creative Direction, Brand Identity Design and Rollout, Editing, Custom Website Design and Development.
Creating a safer, smart and streamlined shipping and maritime environment has always been the goal for founders Steve Ainscough and Paul Mitchell.
With decades of shipping and maritime experience between them, they joined forces to establish MER Solutions in 2016 — a first-rate, trusted risk management practice servicing the maritime, energy and resource sectors. However, being progressive industry leaders, their innovative and technological aspirations quickly outgrew the scope of MER Solutions. This led to Steve and Paul establishing the parent company, MER Group.
MER Group now encompasses numerous subsidiaries, sub brands and products. This includes MER Solutions and tech-focused MER Innovate, as well as additional industry standard products and services including bulk carrier safety-assessment tool BVIQ.
MER Group approached By Ninja seeking our assistance to help them establish and define brand clarity. Due to the organic nature of their growth, MER had a great deal of cross-over in internal structure, which influenced how they presented themselves to their customer base, creating customer confusion and hindering their growth potential.
Due to the sheer complexity of the products and services offered under the MER Group banner, it was firstly important for us to clearly understand what MER Group as a whole stood for and how these subsidiaries fit with and/or differed from each other.
We commenced the creative process with a virtual workshop with key MER Group stakeholders who are dispersed across Australia, from Perth to Sunshine Coast. Running a virtual workshop provided significant savings on travel and time, and had the added benefit of limiting everyone’s carbon footprint. Throughout the 4-hour workshop we embarked on a deep dive into MER Group, mapping out how all the pieces fit together and closely observed both the differences and similarities between each of MER’s brands.
Overall, this project presented many challenges, but also many opportunities. Not only did we need to wrap our ninja brains around the terminology and complexities of the maritime and shipping industries, we needed to thoroughly untangle the multidimensional structure of MER Group, its sub brands and products to create clarity and reduce brand confusion, while establishing a clear path forward.
We recommended a hybrid approach to MER’s brand architecture, adopting a combination of the Endorsed and Pluralistic strategies. This allowed its brands to leverage the established brand credibility, while also delivering the flexibility to differentiate where it most benefited them.
Despite the technological advancements of the modern maritime industry, seafarers remain a very superstitious group.
This interesting discovery guided us throughout our entire design process, from the colours, to symbology and even verbiage we used.
Our mission was to deliver consistency to the MER Group brand family, while also distinguishing the differences and providing clarity between their subsidiary groups, allowing them to grow, communicate and market more effectively to their specific audiences.
Our Endorsed and Pluralistic hybrid approach to MER Group’s brand architecture delivered a strategy that suited the two arms of MER Group: those which benefited from an endorsed approach — such as MER Solutions and MER Innovate — and those that benefited from presenting independently — such as BVIQ and other industry standard products.
Through our considered approach, collaborating closely with MER and focusing on the Endorsed arm of the brand architecture, we were able to generate a multilayered, but carefully curated brand experience and strategy that expanded across the development of a clear brand family, including new logos, patterns and colours, tailored copywriting and new custom website designs.
The “sea” was front of mind when we developed MER’s new brand identity. The new logo was inspired by their old, adapting clean serif typefaces, wave patterns and the symbolic meaning of the compass. The brand icon, while based on the symbolic aspect of the compass, is also structured around the symbolism of good seafaring omens, built on three sections, representative of the three pillars of their three customer groups: maritime, energy and resources. The peaks of the icons are emblematic of stylised waves, while the negative space between the peaks depicts the tail of a dolphin or whale.
While the brand icon maintained the same form across MER Group, MER Solutions and MER Innovate, it was necessary to differentiate them. As the parent company, it was important that MER Group were seen as dependable and confident, which we achieved through a solid fill logo icon. For MER Solutions, a wave pattern, created using uniform lines, was used to reflect their detail-oriented, approachable attitude. The wave pattern was adapted for MER Innovate, using data dots instead of uniform lines, paying homage to its technological focus.
Throughout the entire process we partnered closely with the MER team, ensuring that their branding reflected their transparent, positive, solution-focused approach to maritime safety.
Our objective for this bold new identity was to provide definitive clarity for MER Group, their subsidiaries and products, while also paying homage to their seafaring roots.
The rebrand was a bold leap forward beyond what they expected, but it was immediately embraced by the entire company, including the directors who co-founded the business and designed the original logo — we helped them navigate what was a very sentimental journey.
The rebrand has re-energised the team, and is supporting MER Group’s growth across both their people and innovative tech-led sectors.
Doing things differently starts with a conversation.