Building a brand that works on a first-name basis
After almost 30 years in business, the founders of Raymond Chiappetta and Associates—a Toronto-based commercial interior designer—moved on and sold the business to two of its partners. Principals Joe Trozzo and Isabelle Talbot embraced the transition as an opportunity to update their brand, bring it in alignment with their personalities, and truly take ownership of how they’re seen in the market.
Of course, rebranding a decades-old business with a large base of clients and suppliers can seem like a risky venture. Joe and Isabelle didn’t want to alienate all the relationships they’d built in that time—and through our voice of stakeholder survey, we were able to confirm that they didn’t need to worry. Conducting anonymous interviews with a representative sample of those they work with, we discovered that rather than expecting the RCA brand to remain static through the ownership change, stakeholders were in fact quite eager to see the Joe and Isabelle promote the firm in a way that better reflected their own experiences working with the team.
Our brand strategy sessions uncovered the company’s unique position in the market as “pragmatic by design.” Instead of foisting a distinct style upon every project, the team instead captures the specific and unique need of each of their clients. And meanwhile, Joe and Isabelle value perfect project management just as highly as flawless design—an important balance to strike in the commercial sector.
During the name development process, we landed on a rebrand that name-checks the company’s history while also taking it into the future. The name Ray reflects the intimate involvement that Joe and Isabelle bring to each project and to their client’s business objectives—when you work with them, it’ll be on a “first-name basis.”
The identity itself is simple, but the fit and finish of the materials reinforce Ray’s own attention to detail. The business card’s duplex stock gives it extra thickness, and it’s printed on letterpress to give the type a subtle debossed effect. The rebrand mailer is given a soft-to-the-touch finish and opens up into a three-dimensional “space”—it announces the change at the company, but also reminds those who receive it the level of professionalism and care Ray delivers.
Internally, the rebrand captured the dynamic, family-centric culture united around the mantra “We are Ray.” T-shirts were created for the unveiling of the brand and worn proudly during moving day festivities. The brand values have also been incorporated throughout the open, collaborative interior space design: the glass wall of the conference room—transparency is a cornerstone at Ray—is labelled with “Meet Ray”; the washrooms are marked by a stencilled ‘M’ and ‘W’ in the brand font; and when visitors pass the backlit sign at the building entrance, they’re greeted at reception with a big and bold “Ray Works Here”.
“Without saying explicitly that there was an ownership change, the new brand made it clear we had taken over. Everybody who sees the new brand tells us, ‘It’s so you.’ We take a first-hand approach to our work and the Ray brand reflects that. It’s just three letters, but it speaks volumes about our personality. It’s not overplayed. It’s subtle, but big at the same time.”
Joe Trozzo, Principal
“We love our new brand and it represents perfectly the binary approach we take to our business – design and project management hand in hand.”
Isabelle Talbot, Principal
Coincidentally, the name Ray also pays homage to a funny anecdote told around the firm. As Raymond Chiappetta Associates, they used to receive calls asking to speak to Raymond. (The name was, in fact, the combination of the previous owners’ surnames).