Legendary German automotive brand ORIS stages an epic creative commercial relaunch
Over the past six months, the team and I have been working on what I’ve come to think as an almost sentimental journey. For sure it’s also been clear-eyed hard work, but there’s something wonderful about seeing a classic brand being given the platform it once always enjoyed. I’m talking about ORIS, a classic, decades-old southern-German manufacturing name that in recent years had begun to slowly disappear amid a welter of corporate machinations. We were first offered the chance to consider the brand almost two years ago and it seemed so obvious even then that this business had bags of brand equity, the elusive wonderstuff that design and PR agencies the world over yearn for. Today, it’s back with nothing less than an epic creative commercial relaunch.
The homepage of the new ORIS website featuring our creative direction and video by partner company Lapse Film
However, such a project isn’t conjured overnight. We first started planning our direction for this piece of work in June. ORIS had the best possible start with an identity and great products – their swivelling towbars and easy-to-use bicycle carriers – but beyond that, not a great deal of collateral for us to work with. It quickly became clear that was the first priority.
Thus the initial undertaking was a three-part photography and art direction piece of work completed over several months in Germany and Hungary capturing the essence of not merely the products but their lifestyle potential.
Interestingly, most of those shots were taken before we even began designing the website. It can be a somewhat perverse way of working on as you never know exactly what you’ll need for a site before it’s built. However the bigger complexity is that ‘designing blind’ without any content is incredibly difficult. So there’s a decent logic in creating a wealth of imagery before layouts even begin.
In fact we had done a lot of thinking about what ORIS would look like in its new incarnation. While the business has existed since the 1950s, it hadn’t been given the attention it deserved as a consumer brand in some years. Our goal with this project was to devise a graphic landscape for it to sit within that would meld perfectly with our new library of photographs.
Graphic concept boards for ORIS: part of our creative commercial relaunch for the brand
A winning Formular
Being gifted an unchangeable logo set in dark blue with a flash of cyan is something of a mixed blessing. It’s at once somehow corporate and chilly. Our goal with this project was to ensure ORIS felt exactly the opposite of those things: rather warm and with the goal of helping people enjoy their leisure time.
However the biking and caravans is not the full story either – ORIS products are created with the prime motivation of being strong and safe. They’re also technologically innovative by virtue of decades of patents that the company has accrued.
For us, the brand needed a typeface that would sit alongside the identity and compliment it. We found just that in Berlin foundry Brownfox’s Formular face which we use throughout the site in a variety of styles and formats, particularly in outline and caps. It’s a bonus that it was designed in Germany and is being applied to a German site because the new ORIS site has an English and German language version.
Spots and stripes
One of the particularly distinctive features of the site is the graphic language we’ve introduced throughout, using stripes and spots to allow users to navigate easily. It also looks great – and alongside the imagery, the details lift the design throughout giving a branded feel to the entire project.
This comes into its own on the product pages which feel informative, giving a sense of the comprehensive and high quality nature of ORIS products. A lot of information is listed out but with a great mix of type, image and graphics, the pages never feel overwhelming.
In a sense I wish that the site could be a standard e-commerce project but with a set of products which require professional installation, that isn’t practical. So users keen to retrofit their cars with ORIS towbars require a local dealer and mechanic. The facilitation of this has resulted in one of the details of the site I like most. Our Dealer Finder seems relatively straightforward initially but is built on thousands of entries on a massive database allowing users across Europe (sadly not in the UK and Italy currently) to find their nearest provider.
Being something of a fan of the iconography of the 1950s, I was thrilled to be able to trawl through ORIS’s archives to source photography and graphics from throughout the company’s history. This was brought to life on the ‘Our Story’ section of the site which includes a classic vintage Mercedes pulling a caravan in the late 1960s, trade stands from the seventies and a great aerial shot from 1985 of the current plant in Ludwigsburg surrounded by fields.
The story of a classic brand: the notion of heritage rediscovered is central to its creative commercial relaunch
A role of film
Central to the site is its use of video. Fairly early on in the ORIS creative process it was explained that they wanted to make a film about the brand. We worked with Cambridge-based Lapse Film who flew out to Germany in September to build on the first stills shoot we’d worked on earlier in the summer. By that stage I’d got a really clear idea of the sort of video that was right for ORIS and how it could fit with our lifestyle photography.
My thought had been that imbuing everything we did with a sense of the lazy, bike-ride-filled sun-filled days of summer was the best possible starting point. There was also the small matter of including the products, but that fell naturally into our process.
The finished film gives the clearest sense of ORIS products being a convenient, natural extension of your life. As the copy on the site reads, ‘a small part of the family’, a notion I really liked.
In the end, Lapse Film did us proud, also creating a set of bespoke video page headers which run throughout the product and lifestyle pages of the site. This gives a freshness and sense of constant movement so the eye keeps getting drawn back to the pages. It’s also an incredibly modern approach which I’m thrilled with.
The ORIS promotional film, shot on location in Heilbronn in southern Germany, alongside our photography project
Stage a creative commercial relaunch for your business
Looking to fulfil the potential of your business? Why not give your branding and online presence a fresh look for a new audience? Get in touch via email or give us a call on 020 7351 4083.