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Paintclub is an artistic, event-based business where people of all levels of creative ability can paint with their friends, colleagues, or acquaintances and create a piece of artwork. However, because of the pandemic, the brand had to pivot to focus on the digital side of their brand, and that’s when they called in the help of design agency fst.

Together, the brand and agency worked to create an identity that would guide them into the future. Through inventive graphic shapes, a clean sans-serif typeface, and the avoidance of typical art clichés (think paintbrushes and paint palettes), the identity system is lively, refreshing, and 100% encouraging of creativity.

Paintclub’s refresh with fst is proof that COVID wasn’t all terrible; it inspired brands to push past their previous standard and pivot into something incredible and global.

Social art experience Paintclub rebrands to capitalise on its pandemic digital pivot and global expansion, with new brand strategy and identity by fst.

Paintclub is a creative, event-based business, where people of all levels of artistic ability are invited to pick up a paintbrush alongside friends or work colleagues, and spend a few hours creating their own masterpiece. Thanks to the pandemic, all in-real-life experiences had to be pulled and switched to online classes and on-demand tutorials.

Paintclub’s founder and director, AislingKearneyBurke, approached fst because the business had outgrown both its existing identity and its tech stack. She wanted to address the brand, business and digital strategy, and redesign the brand identity and experience before embarking on a new phase of digital and global growth.

“We didn’t really have a full brand – just a logo, which was created when we launched in 2015,” says Kearney Burke. “Our focus had always been on the Irish and UK markets, working out of our base in Galway. But Covid-19 changed everything. Where once Paintclub was all about in-real-life social and corporate events, suddenly we had a massive digital presence with customers in more than 35 countries. We needed a brand that could service that growth and take us into the future.”

Creative freedom

fst’s brand strategy and design gives Paintclub the tools and brand presence it needs to pursue its mission to make art more accessible all over the world, now with even greater energy and impact. Driven by its dedication to remove the barriers that surround putting brush to canvas, Paintclub’s new identity and platform empowers people of all abilities and experience to create space and find the time to embrace their creativity through sociable, approachable, high-quality art tutorials.

“Paintclub now encourages people to rethink their relationship with art,” says Charlie Butterfield, partner at fst. “It isn’t a scary, difficult thing – all that matters is that people have the space to explore.

“Unlike many of the clubs out there, which sell a ‘paint and Prosecco’ style of product, the identity for Paintclub needed to set it apart and appeal to a much broader market – from hobbyists to those who want to seriously develop their skills. The new brand achieves that.”

Space adventure

The identity uses graphic shapes to play with the idea of ‘framing’ a scene as you would a piece of art, while also creating a ‘window’ into the more artistic side of life. The variety in these framing devices lends the brand a liveliness and flexibility, allowing it to adapt depending on the image, occasion and mood.

The suite of assets has been developed to expand with the business as it grows. A clean sans serif font interspersed with characters from the original insignia form the new logo, holding on to Paintclub’s existing brand equity while offering personality and differentiation. Those characters can also be found in abstract form across all touchpoints, including the website and social media, class materials, paint kits and merchandise. And five colour palettes keep everything lively and dynamic, without stealing attention from the masterpieces themselves.

“We wanted to avoid the usual clichés – paintbrushes, palettes, French berets,” says Butterfield. “Instead opting for a free and expressive design language that encourages creativity, while allowing flex and personalisation. It’s a mature identity that’s 100% ownable, and it gives Aisling a strong platform from which to fulfil her digital-first international aspirations.”

Brave new world

“Working with fst has been a revelation – the team showed me Paintclub’s true potential and gave us the tools to realise our dreams,” says Kearney Burke. “This has been a challenging time for Paintclub, but we are making it work. Even though we had to pivot towards online events, Paintclub actually increased its overall revenue by 35% in 2020, and we have customers as far afield as Botswana, Japan, Brazil and South Africa.

“fst’s approach means that we now see ourselves as a global, digital-first outfit, and that we communicate with the international market in the right way. And it’s great to know we are supporting artists globally during these tricky times.”

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