Posted by Diggory Gordon
26 July, 2021

What a journey.

We first started work with Dean & Reddyhoff Marinas back in 2015. Taking a deeper dive into their values and tone of voice, what became clear was their sense of wanting to break the boating mould and a desire to be truly different. With a strong emphasis on fun and the unique people that made up the marina environment – from the berth holders to the staff – it was clear they wanted to zig when everyone else in the boating sector zags.

The journey

Several years – and multiple projects across brand, signage, digital and print – later, Dean & Reddyhoff were on the verge of an exciting merger that would see them go from a south coast dominant brand to truly national around the United Kingdom, with 11 marinas and an appetite for more… An extensive branding and identity project was undertaken by London agency Simple Truth, unpicking the differences of the new brand and the collective vision that was to be launched. A new name, built on the fun and personality we first established over six years ago, was launched with an all new identity centered around having fun afloat and turning each marina into a destination brand in its own right. Our brief was to turn comprehensive guidelines into reality, effectively interpreting the brand’s vision and values with strategic thought and craft.

boatfolk was launched…

…and then Covid happened.

Managing a launch across 11 sites with updated signage and print elements (not to mention illustrated town maps, digital assets and much, much more) is challenging enough; but throw in a pandemic, trying to work across design files remotely (if I could sum this up with one word it would be: interesting), and supply chains that were severely hampered, made a tough challenge even tougher. A sense of humour with multiple work streams, the entire design team, effective project management, late nights and coffee all combined to deliver our biggest project to date.

It’s amazing how the entire team adjusted and adapted to the situation, organising brand workshops, presenting creative work and orchestrating naming workshops, all online. Like the rest of Europe, we had little or no practice in our new virtual world, but it’s amazing how we can all adjust when we have to. The biggest struggle for me is presenting to clients. It’s amazing how you can detect a tone or direction by the tiny signals in body language. A shift of the seat here or a spark in the eye there all give a designer the tools to read a situation and respond strategically. With that taken away, it’s about relying on intuition, and a strong understanding of brand and the client’s wants and needs.

Fast forward a year and we’re realising the vision of Simple Truth in turning the marina market on its head and transforming each boatfolk marina into a destination. With a business tilt towards lifestyle, energy, disruption and fun, the brand is going from strength to strength. Digital-first marketing campaigns and sub-brands expanding into sustainability and youth engagement are shaping boatfolk as a major disruptor in the marina sector and leading the way for the next generation to gain access to the water and have fun afloat, without the stigma that’s so often associated with boating.

Watch this space for even more to come…

Signage

Taking two sites as the base for the scheme, we completed a full audit, establishing wayfinding and the function of each sign. A system was developed, looking at breaking down each sign into either Directional, Informative or Fun. This system was then rolled out across the 11 marinas with multiple suppliers in tow.

Illustration

Taking the direction established by Simple Truth, we illustrated 11 town maps, establishing the character of each destination.

From branding a boat hoist to a car park pass, and everything in between, it’s been exciting to see the brand come to life in printed form.

Digital assets

Social assets are used to cut through the noise and get noticed, reinforcing all things boatfolk with friendly messaging and playful calls to action.

Campaign sub-brands

Engaging with new audiences and changing the mindset of current ones were the core briefs behind sub-brands Coastline Deadline and Boat Gen. These brands are aimed at stretching the reach of boatfolk and allow us to push the identity and tone of voice into new places.