Defining a visual language

Defining a visual language for MovePlan

When I describe the creative design work we’ve done, I’m usually discussing the culmination of a project during which many of the elements that make up a rebrand have dovetailed. These usually start with a logo design project, considering colour, type, then how the brand appears in print and online. It’s often months of work and reaching the ‘finish line’ is always a very satisfying moment. We’ve recently completed one such project, for global business change consultancy MovePlan. I found one aspect of the project particularly satisfying – defining a visual language for the business, in this case by building them a library of brand imagery. Over a period of three months, all the photographs in this project were shot by renowned architectural photographer Alistair Nicholls – with my art direction. Since it will be a while before we’re out doing photo shoots again, I thought it might be interesting to reflect on that project and the creative process behind the work.

1 – Broadgate Circle

What works so well about this image is the mix of soft, warm light, a variety of materials and the hurried movement of people through the shot. MovePlan’s work is ultimately about people: helping them work more effectively and ensuring business goals are met. Office premises change but the flow of people through them is what matters.

This image captures this sense of flow through a modern urban landscape. For me one of the things that makes the image work visually is that each of the people moving through the shot is wearing something white. That’s fluke of course – we got lucky with this shot – but equally, waiting (and waiting) for the right shot tends to ensure a good result.

This is a signature image of the shoot and one I come back to repeatedly in our work defining a visual language for MovePlan to explain what we were trying to achieve during the project.

Defining a visual language

2 – Broadgate buildings

This photograph was taken only metres from the first shot at Broadgate Circle – but couldn’t be more different. Imposing, solid, immovable, this building feels almost like a massive urban robot or static piece of machinery.

However the crop of the shot means that the building is reduced to a series of interlocking shapes that will work perfectly – as the background to a presentation slide, for instance. Practicality is at the heart of our work on this project and ensuring that the image library is useful for all purposes is vital.

There’s a side to our art direction for MovePlan which is crisp, architectural and to the point, referencing a precision and modern outlook. We shot a range of spare, minimal images of this kind, albeit with elements of the signature motion blur, which complement shots that are full of movement and energy.

Defining a visual language

3 – The Serpentine Pavilion

Having captured a range of views in corporate settings, we also were keen to choose locations that were visually intriguing or appealing and that may not be familiar to a global audience. One of these was the 2019 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami. Our images of the pavilion are broken up by the colourful movement of visitors flowing through the space.

This unusual, eye-catching image is one of a set of more esoteric choices which sit well alongside the businesslike locations we’ve used elsewhere. MovePlan’s client base covers a diverse set of business sectors and includes a wide range of tech, media and leading brands. We were keen the image library we created had the breadth to appeal to all these markets while maintaining a consistent style.

Defining a visual language

4 – London Wall walk

Going into our photographic sessions, one thing we wanted to achieve very specifically was a set of shots taken vertically – from the top down. We called this ‘MovePlan view’. Every project that MovePlan undertakes uses an analytical, strategic set of processes and we were keen that our images echoed this conceptually.

To achieve this, we took photographs from a set of locations on London Wall Walk in the heart of the city of London, particularly at a newly-completed stretch around Salters Hall. From the vantage point of the highwalk railings, we took a set of shots inspired by drone footage, capturing the busy workforce of the city. The idea here was to create not only an immediately memorable set of shots but some which people double-take at, checking they completely understood what they’d seen.

This sense of curiosity, inventiveness and precision is at the heart of MovePlan’s offering – and thus determined our work defining a visual language for the business.

Defining a visual language

5 – Medical testing

As well as general mood-led photography, two of the key sectors that MovePlan work within are healthcare and ‘big pharma’. We devoted an entire day shooting at a series of testing labs to create a set of scientific and medical shots to sit within presentations to those industries.

With so much of the image library having a geometric, linear feel, it was clear that medical or scientific settings would feel like a neat contextual fit. Our idea was that these shots would be a continuation of the dynamic, precise visual style we’d defined so clearly by this point. Using MovePlan’s clients as locations isn’t possible for reasons of confidentiality, so we achieved these shots at private scientific and private blood testing labs, capturing the detail of their processes.

In the shot I’ve chosen here, we asked a member of lab staff to continue with their work, taking shots at key moments of action and movement. Focussing on the detail of these often tiny labs, we used our signature blurred motion and a tight depth of field in a new way, while keeping a sense of the setting.

Defining a visual language

Find out more

If you’re planning a rebrand of your business, why not get in touch to discuss a wide range of different approaches. We can work on designs from the simple to the sensational, depending on your brief and budget. Call us on 020 7351 4083 or email us direct.

Find out more about this project

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