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Turtle & Hughes Inc. Brand Identity

By plaidtractor

On 07, Jul 2015 | In | By plaidtractor

Turtle & Hughes Inc. Brand Identity

A re-invisioned brand for a 92 year old company

As the only woman-owned, independent distributor on the east coast, T&H continues to be a trail-blazing leader in electrical equipment, data, and automation. For these reasons, T&H is a fairly exceptional, family owned company (25th in the nation) that prides itself on its most enduring and valuable assets: customer dedication, reliability, and being a technical and logistical innovator.

Plaid Tractor Creative (PTC) approached parent company Turtle & Hughes about developing an authentic brand expression. After presenting a persuasive case, PTC was brought on board to orchestrate a brand discovery initiative, providing a revealing cultural profile. This provided valuable insight for the brand team and helped set the trajectory for creative development.


Diagram showing the overview of brand identity development and the value of a cohesive brand touchpoint system.


The Brand Strategy Brief combined internal and external audit findings, providing a useful platform for strategic planning and creative direction.

Two initiatives provided key insight:

1] PTC orchestrated an internal audit designed to achieve a comprehensive, multi-layer understanding of the company. The effort yielded fresh, diverse perspectives, and illuminated perceived strengths, weaknesses, corporate culture, core mission, values, and target markets. These were distilled further to reveal a brand-essence. T&H saw itself as an adaptive distribution innovator and progressive industrial solutions company.

2] Finally a competitive audit identified primary and secondary competitors and their respective brand positioning. Results indicated that while a few demonstrated a sophisticated level of focused, strategic branding, many were under-developed or followed arbitrary positioning patterns. The audit also provided a valuable reference point to develop a truly distinctive brand expression.

PTC recommended designing with legacy and authenticity in mind in order to best show that customer perception would be aligned with behavior and performance (a critical aspect to building brand equity). Guidance also pointed to centering their brand on what they value highest: dependability, innovative problem solving, current technology, and laser-like focus toward customer needs. Out of these aspects team set out to make the brand expression synonymous with customer commitment, trust, and forward thinking.

The new logo part I: a fresh look with distinctive stature.

original turtle

Original T&H turtle logo.

A future-oriented brand identity (one that represents a now more capable and diversified company) meant a major departure from the original visual identity: a playfully rendered turtle paired with the maxim “First in the long run”, referring to Aesop’s Fable. While it was beloved internally and spoke a core truth about the company, it evoked a bygone era and carried out-of-pace connotations (slow and steady wins the race).


The turtle shell ‘skute’ concept deflected negative connotations (sluggish, unskillful, bulky) and allowed T&H to command their own narrative.

For strategic reasons incorporating a turtle symbolically into a new wordmark was important to impart brand legacy, and allow the design to move and pair with the name. The new shell geometry (called a ‘skute’) allowed the identity to deflect negative associations by opening opportunities for a new, supportive graphic language. The turtle shell is a symbol of endurance and constancy, providing a link to T&H’s genuine strengths and business performance. Incorporating demonstrable attributes was an imperative to deliver high value and brand equity over the long term.

The new logo part II: a clearer, tougher geometry.


Abbreviated logo featuring word mark and tagline.

Despite its strengths and earning enthusiastic approval, the design was again revisited to achieve a more accessible and graphically portable geometric ampersand. Seeking “a clearer read” the final phase yielded an even more robust and steadfast feel to align with T&H’s corporate culture and operational dependability. The converging, embedded line represents the company’s commitment to technology, connectivity, and a message that says “we’re laser-focused on our customers”.

Finally, an iconic and abbreviated brand mark was designed to work in tandem with the word mark, providing readability in tighter spaces and bring the ampersand into full focus.

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