Bleed: This Norwegian studio is a world leader in visual design
By Eva-Kristin U. Pedersen | Photos: Bleed
Do you know your visual identity? Faced with this question, a growing number of enterprises discover that they don’t – but it’s time that they did.
“Your visual identity is more than just the logo, it is an ambassador of your brand, a package that underpins every choice related to communication, including images, graphics and text, and how these are used. The idea is to improve the brand experience and ultimately to create a proxy for a set of associations that people all over the world are willing to pay for,” says Christoffer Nøkleby.
Nøkleby is one of the owners of Bleed, a world leading studio in visual design. At Bleed, they combine a thorough understanding of society and business with top-quality design inspired by Nordic aesthetics.
Founded in 2000 by five young designers and software developers in Oslo, the company’s fame has exploded internationally, as the focus on visual identities in business has heightened over the years.
The Apple revolution
“Apple revolutionised a somewhat boring and utility-driven technology sector, introducing design as a main feature. Now, virtually all sectors demand an unequivocal and effective visual identity,” Nøkleby explains.
To construct that identity, designers at Bleed work with the client to identify the latter’s unique values before they design the visual message that represents them. In doing so, clients are forced to carefully consider who they are and what they stand for – something they wouldn’t necessarily do if it weren’t for the need for an effective visual identity.
“The process of creating a visual identity is often very useful for companies in ways that extend beyond obtaining the digital asset that we make for them,” says Simon Stjern, director of strategy at Bleed.
Stjern has a strong background in rhetoric having been a political speechwriter, and says that there are many similarities between defining the essential messages for a speech and for a commercial client. “It helps them understand the core of what they do,” he stresses.
To be able to serve a large number of clients across sectors, from banks and festivals to universities and fashion brands, Bleed relies on employees with equally diverse backgrounds, both culturally and professionally.
“Our staff have worked in both digital and in physical sectors, and of the 15 designers in the Oslo studio, about half are non-Norwegian. Joining our international team of staff is competitive – the company is popular amongst aspiring designers around the world. If you speak to a student in Tokyo with an interest in Nordic design, chances are that they follow us on Instagram,” Nøkleby says with a smile.
Scandinavian aesthetics, international context
The company’s international profile does not prevent them from being a proponent of the wave of Nordic design that has taken on global markets over the last decades. The secret, if we are to believe Nøkleby, is in their capacity to adapt Scandinavian style to an international reality – as in one of their recent projects for a tech start-up linked to a major American university.
“Part of the reason that we are selected for such jobs is that we represent, in their eyes, something unique and interesting that you may want to call Nordic aesthetics – yet this style is adaptable and we make it relevant no matter where it is applied,” Nøkleby stresses. “Nordic aesthetics are a driving force in our work, not the goal in itself,” he points out.
Looking to the future
Bleed has major potential for growth, but rather than opening a string of offices in new cities, they’d rather strengthen the already existing Vienna-office, which today has five employees.
“Our focus, be that in Vienna or Oslo, is on creating interesting design in an economically sustainable way, not expanding for the sake of expansion,” says Nøkleby.
To do that, Bleed maintains a combined understanding of the world of business, the society we live in, and top-quality design at the core of all of its activity.
“What we want our clients to see is that, if done well enough, visual design can greatly improve user experience and make marketing strategies dramatically more efficient,” he concludes.
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