art direction, branding, webdesign
A Berlin-based company Spreedampfer approached me after receiving an e-mail from a potential client who said he couldn’t work with them because he doesn’t understand anything from their current website. Ouch.
He was not wrong; my first impression was that I’m dealing with a boat-rental company, and after the first client meeting, it turned out that their main business is organizing events in said boats and other venues. Indeed, while the current website had a lot of character, it did not do much for communication. From the navigation hierarchy to the extreme font choices, it was a confusing user experience nightmare. It was time for a makeover!
The data spoke for itself: the current website’s average visiting time of 2 seconds and only 30% organic traffic. The primary objectives were clear: highlight the tailor-made event service, get new clients, present the venues and history, include many pictures, improve SEO and retain character while doing all that. Easy-peasy, right?
The previous logo was misleading, I think we can agree that industrial steamboat doesn’t scream party to anyone. The party spirit, the energy, and the whole idea of event service was missing. Together with my friends from workshop91, we created a new brand identity that conveys what Spreedampfer does using pictograms. Boats, water, berlin, party, drinks – you get the picture. Wanting to keep the vintage vibe, we used Mabry Pro from Colophon Foundry, which holds the spirit of the irregular grotesques of the late 19th century while also having influences from early 20th century geometric typefaces (if you’re not a designer, I’m sorry for the nerd talk).
Knowing that there is a lot information and content coming in the website and collaterals, web broadened the visual language to accomodate. Expanding the idea from the logo, we created an additional, more elaborate, illustrative icon language that could support explanations of features and benefits.
I sat down with the client for a content workshop, and oh boy, was it a lot of content. My solution to the overwhelming amount of details was to have the homepage serve as a one-pager – giving all necessary information at a glance for the busy with the possibility to dive deeper and discover all the details of each venue and service for the curious. When your customer can be almost anyone, from a detail-obsessed bride to a cool startup who wants an inflatable castle, you may want the website to act as the perfect catalog of what you offer, with everything ranging from possible venues to catering, through a series of relevant information about possible addons, locations, amenities, parking and so on…
As the project happened during COVID times (not exactly the peak of event agencies), there was no budget for a consistent, art-directed photoshoot. But there were a lot of existing photographs. Of, let’s say, varying quality. Basically, we had to make the best of the available materials. That’s one of the reasons behind the decision to keep the visual identity restrained and the accentual use of color, so it can host any content. Trying to achieve consistency with monotone or overlays just seemed like a lazy solution and frankly dumb – who would want to judge whether to spend big bucks on an event when you can’t tell what the venue looks like IRL. It was a conscious decision to put information before aesthetics.
Trying not to go all colorful and bold moved us in the danger zone of becoming bland and joining the generic event venue catalog club™. Since we couldn’t curate the images, we came up with a full-of-character illustration language that could enrich the website, a more energetic sister of the icon language featuring some rasters for a vintage mood. We quoted the optimistic swirl elements in a scaled-up version to give an overall look a bit more pep.
Art Direction: Julia Parchimowicz
Logo design: workshop91, Julia Parchimowicz
Illustrations: Julia Parchimowicz