Elmwood’s former Leeds studio becomes ‘Born Ugly’

The Leeds-based founding studio of Elmwood – the world’s most effective brand design agency – has today re-launched as ‘Born Ugly’ . The rebrand of the independent international brand design agency follows its demerger from the Elmwood Group announced last week.

Born Ugly

Born Ugly is a creative partnership of strategists, designers and digital experts with a strong track record that spans four decades and six continents, but now with a new direction. 

The Born Ugly brand positioning and identity was created in-house by its team of strategists and designers, and crafted by Grammy nominated and Cannes Lion winning artist Alex Trochut.

The Born Ugly name is born from a fundamental truth that even the very best of ideas start ‘ugly’. Whether they help start a fledgling business or help a brand leader stretch their advantage. They all start raw, uncrafted and lacking validation. More than this, the creative process itself is ugly. It is not a sausage machine. It is a process driven by the tension that pushes boundaries and delivers extraordinary impact

The brand icon is Born Ugly’s ‘mark of potential’ and represents a squiggle used to highlight ideas and insights with the greatest potential. The purpose drawn brand mark is crafted to be ugly and raw, as well as beautiful and balanced with a mix of lower case and caps.

Born Ugly is led by Jonathan Sands OBE (Chairman), Sarah Dear (Managing Partner), Sabrina Ahmed (Senior Partner, Client Services), Wander Bruijel (Senior Partner, Strategy & Provocation) and Rob Skelly (Associate Creative Director). Its clients include Tesco, Carlsberg, Givaudan, Sainsbury’s, Covea, P&G, Kopparberg, Astonish, Challs International, Vet-AI, Heck, and VFC amongst others.

Jonathan Sands OBE, Chairman Born Ugly: “Our plan is to build on the success of the Leeds business coming off the back of a very successful year and tread a different path to Elmwood now. I have no doubt that business will go on and do bigger and better things. Our plans for Born Ugly are clear and exciting and in time I want to step back knowing that we’ve achieved something really special and different once again. I want to put succession in place from the start hence me diluting my share-holding very quickly.”

Sarah Dear, Managing Partner Born Ugly: “We have a history that spans forty years.  We have always believed that ugly fights harder and has somewhere to go. Ugly feeds bravery and endeavour. Ugly isn’t scared to embrace dangerous creative that has the power to disrupt and breakthrough. With conviction, ugly redefines the status quo and creates something truly remarkable.”

Sarah, continues: “I’m extremely excited to lead the future of Born Ugly together with my colleagues. At Born Ugly we truly believe that the work we do should always have a remarkable impact in the world. It is why we are relentless in our pursuit to go deep and uncover the ideas with the potential for extraordinary. And we bring together some of the best creative minds in the industry to create truly remarkable work.”

Commenting on the work, Alex Trochut said: “If you ask me craft and branding have somehow been going in opposite directions in the last years, technological format constraints and a constant aim to try to communicate and please the biggest numbers have led us to the “less is less” in some cases. It has been a great challenge – and pleasure – to collaborate with the Born Ugly team who has been shooting for something, crafted, witty and beautiful from the start. Easy will always be boring, and hard challenges are what brings the most satisfaction into our jobs. I’m grateful to have been part of the birth of this new beautiful and weird brand. <3″

Born Ugly is also the founder of The Furnace, a creative hothouse where like-minded businesses with different specialisms share its studio space and work with the team to deliver impact for its clients. It is home to one of the fastest-growing digital businesses in Europe, a pioneer in virtual experiences and spaces, interactive gaming and film, and a Product Design & UX Consultancy specialising in user-centric digital products & services. The Furnace is a dynamic and collaborative ecosystem of strategic partners that create innovative and exciting brand experiences.

Source: Born Ugly

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