Complexity without complication

No matter how complex the tech, it should be simple for the user. We helped the tech company System Crew to develop a brand that expressed their hidden strength.

System Crew - Complexity without complication
System Crew - Complexity without complication

Introduction

System Crew is an IT firm with German roots that designs, builds and runs core tech. It’s an outsource partner that handles advanced IT system for international business clients, often in niche industries or with global reach. 

That’s a busy market that tends to be divided between the multinational giants at one end of the spectrum, and smaller local firms at the other. The big companies can feel impersonal and distant, while the local ones can be too small to handle really complex jobs or offer 24 hour support. System Crew deliberately locates itself in the middle, as a firm with unrivalled scope and expertise that is still approachable and direct. 

After a period of change and restructuring, System Crew had a pretty good idea of who they were. Now they needed to relaunch with a visual identity that could express their strengths with clarity and focus.

Challenge

With many years of experience in the IT industry, System Crew’s team had a good sense of the frustrations that many businesses have around technology. A lot of businesses were struggling with IT support that wasn’t delivering. They would pick up the phone and get someone who didn’t know what they were doing, or file a support ticket and then wait around for someone to fix their problem. 

System Crew knew that their service was better – the whole team are IT professionals. You’ll always be able to get hold of an expert, day or night. They run as a tight agile–working team, with low turnover and a highly engaged workforce. You could throw the most difficult tech challenges at this team, and they would find a solution and get it working flawlessly without ever burdening the client with the complexity. 

The task for Sparks was to capture the obvious strengths of this team and develop a brand that showcased their capabilities and approach. 

Action

The first step for System Crew was to really drill down into how they understood themselves and their distinctive features. We asked questions: Who are the clients, and what do they want? What do we need them to know? We provided profiles of some imaginary clients, encouraging System Crew to explain what they would each need to hear. The goal was to help the company to express what it is that makes them relevant to their key audiences. 

With a workforce that was self–aware and proud of the company, the conversation yielded a real richness of perspectives on what made System Crew great – expertise, high quality, its direct approach, distinctive team dynamic, and its values of getting it right every time, with no room for error. 

From these themes we drew out three or four to explore further. One was particularly resonant: the idea that however complex the systems, it should be easy for the user. For the business, the sophisticated technology is just a means to an end. The client doesn’t need to know all the complexity. They just need it to work, and trust that it will continue to work safely, securely and dependably. They don’t need to see the vast iceberg below the waterline. We referred to this as idea as ‘Invisible Strength’, and it became the underlying motif of the brand development. 

Results

Invisible Strength clearly communicates capability and reliability, and recognises that when IT is working flawlessly, the client doesn’t need to worry about it. It’s all about trust, minimum disruption, everything working dependably in the background in support of your business.

That could be expressed visually in a number of ways, so our next task was to investigate different visual approaches. The team were drawn towards more minimalist styles, and a unanimous decision was made to take the Invisible Strength concept forwards with a simple and distinctive wordmark.

We gathered feedback on the concept and experimented with adding colour, a gradient, and more photographic approaches. Again the team settled on the most stripped back versions, using black and off–white, and letting strong typography do the heavy lifting. 

Transformation

True simplicity isn’t easy. It took focus to distil the strengths of System Crew down to some key words and phrases. Clarity of concept, expressing the idea visually, and refining it to a point where words and graphics were working together powerfully. Ironically, it takes a lot effort to understand and make something so effectively simple. If you’re using few words, then every single one matters. If you’re not relying on colour and images, then every blank space has to be a positive choice.

Comparing System Crew to competitors, this is a brand that is refreshingly different. It takes a degree of confidence to say so little, and buck the trend for detailed websites and lots of technical jargon. System Crew’s new identity perfectly captures their desire to work hard in the background, and be a reliable IT partner that is defined by its invisible strength. 

What they said

“Working with Sparks Studio on System Crew’s new branding was a delight. The team were quick to capture the essence of what our business is about and diligently turned it into a powerful brand”

System Crew