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Plaid Tractor Studio:

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Converting complexity into beauty and clarity across brand identity, web, and print media.

Plaid Tractor uses road-tested expertise and engagement to combine client insight and fresh thinking to make a brand's persona beautiful and functional.

Soup to nuts, we deliver contextualized and enduring solutions specifically tailored to meet your goals. Ask how we can help.

“Plaid Tractor had exactly the pulse that we were looking for in our search for a brand and website with verve.”
- John Millard, PhosEnergy LLC

“Bob delivered beyond just excellent web design...he taught us how to think about design when creating our technical and business solutions.”
- Todd Clarke, MDS Pharma

A powerful brand statement that aligns the heritage, credibility, and future vision of a 90 year old company.

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Turtle & Hughes Inc. Brand Identity

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What a template can't do: we tailor strategies to your specific needs using the most resonating and clarifying attributes of design and content.

Visit the About page to learn more, or ask how we can help you stand apart.

Selected clients: Seattle Times Co., Microsoft, Turtle & Hughes Inc., Turtle Energy LLC, Phos Energy LLC, Ranae Holland, the Skeptical Scientist (Finding Bigfoot), MDS Pharma, RiverSong Jewelry, Joseph Zimmer DDS, Paradise Springs Farm, Synchronicity Health Centre, Sol Colibri Coffee

BRAND IDENTITY: why it’s design’s MVP

10th October 2013 By plaidtractor


Customers can hear you because you’re speaking their language. More…

Essential factors such as individuality and quality are still declared and demonstrated through brand-identity. This is still true whether you’re a startup, an established businesses, or feel the need to advance or reposition your brand image. Because clear, competitive brand design is the cultural language we still use to demonstrate stature, intelligence, and separation from the pack, it remains a business imperative.

Untangling brand terminology is useful to relate to its role. While a brand is about establishing, reinforcing or shifting perceptions in a user’s mind, brand identity is the tangible mechanism for delivery. A developed identity includes design of a brand mark (i.e. logo/logotype) and a complete, distinctive system of visual assets, which can serve as a constant, ubiquitous reminder of a brand’s essence and value. To appreciate the real-world value of a properly executed brand identity, it useful to know the players…

What’s a brand?

Let’s begin from what a brand isn’t: the logo. It’s more useful to think of the logo as the doorway to a brand, an entryway that opens into a brand’s unique and storied house – a domain where associations are felt and emotional connections are made. When encountered again that door (logo) serves as a reference to those associations or experiences. Likewise, other tangible assets such as websites, packaging, business cards, and collateral also provide access, and offer an invitation to connect.

The brand is intrinsic to a company’s perceived culture, legacy, value, credibility, trust and status. How we perceive brands constantly influences our thinking and behavior, and how we share, talk, and relate to them. We can more easily relate to authentic brand identity because it demonstrates rather than declares its competitive advantage and unique value.

Every business has one (even when they’re not expressing it).

Some companies take a hands-off approach to a “foreground” brand presence, missing opportunities to command a narrative and build brand equity. Businesses avoid leaving money on the table when they recognize the value of honing their brand message. Consistently demonstrating effectiveness and relevancy draws recognition and membership.

Making strengths visible

Brand identity begins with self-reflection. A company must be defined in terms of who it is, and where it wants to go. To do this (in short), essential assets are weighed, goals and competitors are assessed, then research is played back to paint a clear picture. Who is the audience? How should the brand be positioned? Strategic imagination and unconventional thinking is needed. A brief is co-created that lays out a strategic course. All research comes together to serve as a framework for logo design.

A set of basic, value protecting imperatives apply to logo design and deployment:
-Differentiation (a demonstration of leadership, and to stand out against a sea of indistinguishable products and services)
-Authenticity (demonstrating genuine strengths makes brands more relatable and trustworthy)
-Consistency (repeated exposure builds recognition)
-Endurance (brand equity is built over time)

Bringing it all together

Brand identity works with and beyond the logo. It fully illuminates a resolved brand through a versatile visual identity system, capable of aligning all brand material into a cohesive army of brand expressions (applicable to website, advertising, business material, collateral, packaging to name a few). This is achieved through a flexible visual language using typographic style, imagery, graphic elements, and color. A style guide is created for in-house use. Aligning all brand touchpoints, as they’re known, demonstrates the laser-like focus of a company, making it one of the most powerful marketing tools a company can deploy.

The main objectives are to insure distinguishing strengths endure over time, and competitive advantages are clear immediately. Inspiring brand membership is a central goal, because that builds brand-advocates that share their experience.

Authenticity aims for genuine value

Authenticity is what separates meaningful design from merely attractive design. It’s a key asset because it allows behaviors and performance to clearly synch with brand expressions, helping them feel more genuine and relatable.

Brand identity matters because it carries Intrinsic value. Business that strategically seize its potential can command a premium. Meaningful, resonating, consistent brands are recognizable and build awareness, which grows business.

Contact us to today to seize control of your brand message.


10th October 2013 By plaidtractor


Our prime motivation is to channel our experience to make the process clear, and our solutions valuable. More…

Plaid Tractor teams up with 4-Mile to deliver tailored, state of the art design and development.

We’re straight forward, welcoming, versatile, and clients value how we emphasize research and authenticity. We’re at our best when problem solving, and happiest when our clients look professional and sophisticated online.

Web production shines with some skilled coordination. We break it out into segments that make sense: a) assess needs, b) assist in strategy, c) insure design is engaging, usable, and strategic, d) then build technology around design.

Websites are spaces to be inviting, informative, sharable, and brand supportive. No matter how clean or daring, usability remains the cornerstone of our solutions. PT divides focus equally between engaging content and Intuitive access. Our sites are tailor-built in WordPress, mobile friendly, and made to be self-administered.

To make best use of value potential, we emphasize strategic planning, followed by strategy-guided layout, design, and typography. To get there we begin with the almighty brief, among the most valuable tools of the process. The brief outlines essential criteria to guide the design phase, such as look and feel, demographics, psychographics, site navigation and architecture, and user-experience (to name a few). Experience has shown that organization and planning can smooth the process to push design forward.

Web design is an exploratory, evolving discipline. We continue to better understand how to make best use of its reach by delivering rich content, fostering trust, and inspiring action.

Take the first simple step today and let us in on your vision.

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10th October 2013 By plaidtractor


Coaxing opportunity from constraint is what we know and love. More…

Oh, for the love of print.

Producing quality work requires a solid working knowledge of how design and print techniques interact (beyond initial design). Coaxing opportunity from constraint is what we know and love. Read more…