Deep research. Confident design

A brand that establishes the pedigree of a twenty–year–old investment house.

Phoenix Asset Management - Deep research. Confident design
Phoenix Asset Management - Deep research. Confident design


Phoenix Asset Management is a value investment firm. Think of it as a UK version of Berkshire Hathaway. They are called Phoenix because they invest in businesses that others might see as failing, in the confidence that they will rise again.

Historically their Phoenix fund had been pitched to high net worth individuals and investment teams, so they had never seen a need to invest in their brand. But in 2016 they saw a new opportunity to open up their fund to a broader audience and extend their appeal.

They followed their usual methodology and bought the worst performing investment trust in 2016, the Aurora Investment Trust. At the end of 2015 the fund had only £20m under management and had negative returns.

In taking control of the investment approach Phoenix wanted to establish that everything was changing under their direction. Aurora was about to rise from the ashes. And they needed help to reframe the relevancy of the Trust to a mass–affluent audience.

Having sought recommendations they appointed Sparks to develop a new brand strategy for both Phoenix and Aurora. Our objective was to create a brand which demonstrated that Aurora belonged to Phoenix and was heading for better days.

Phoenix go to great lengths in their company research. The team are voracious readers with an extensive library on business thinking. This focus on in–depth research was a bedrock throughout the brand and design process.


Re–establishing relevance 

We began with brand architecture. How would the brands interact with each other? How strong should the connection be? We settled a common positioning around the firm’s depth of research.

For the logos, we drew inspiration from the pages of open books, bookmarks, flames and the ribbon–like patterns of the Northern Lights.

The myth of the phoenix is an important metaphor for the business. We developed a visual symmetry between the phoenix wing and the patterns of the aurora to link the two businesses, while keeping the identities separate.

Using an orange colour palette helps Phoenix stand out in the predominantly blue and black world of financial services. Aurora’s colour scheme reflects the vibrancy of the Northern Lights.

We also helped Phoenix communicate the right messages, in the right order, avoiding staid corporate language in their written brand foundation and website content in favour of a more candid approach.

In the first year of ownership the Aurora Trust doubled its size and halted the decline of its value. It has since grown to over five times its size following the rebrand. And the Phoenix Fund now totals over £880m. Had you had the good fortune to invest £1,000 with Phoenix when they launched in 1998, it would be worth £6,119 today.

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  • We felt Sparks had a sound understanding of who we are and what makes us tick. You’d clearly done your research before coming to the table with ideas and solutions. After you presented our written brand interpretation, everyone came out saying we couldn’t have done it better ourselves. You’ve translated our wishes and thoughts into clear design.

    Gary Channon, CIO and Director
  • The process would have been totally different if we’d gone with another agency. You were responsive, dealing with any questions quickly and even helping us out of a sticky spot before our AGM. Working with Sparks has literally been a pleasure, and we’re extremely happy with the end result.

    Steve Tatters, Business Development Director

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