ROLI Rebrand | Case Study

Simple, Innovating, Futuristic — The rebranding of a music technology company ahead of its time.

Owen Morley
Mar 1 · 7 min read

Project Type: Academic
Category: Branding
Tools: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop
Industry: Music Technology

An Introduction

History

ROLI is a music technology company based in London, England who make touch sensitive keyboards and launchpads that produce unique sounds depending on how hands rotate and flow across their products. The sounds are unique and can be tailored to each artist. Each keyboard resembles the same configuration as its competitors. However, a silicone coating allows the user to have full control over pressure, key, timbre, and pitch just from one finger. Artists like Grimes and Hans Zimmer use their products in their work today.

Demographic

Age
20 to 50 Year Old

Culture
Producers, Artists, and Musicians who create music around eclectic genres such as Synth-Pop, Synth-Rock, Trance, Ambient, House, Techno, etc. Those looking to take their music to the next level.

Income
Those who have a bit of financial freedom as some of the products are a bit costly ($300–$1,000). As well that buyers are aware that purchasing ROLI products are a longterm investment.

Products

Currently, ROLI has an assortment of products. This would include the Seaboard keyboard, the Block launchpad, Equator a MIDI Polyphonic Expression(MPE), Free phone apps, and a variety of accessories.

Brief

The branding of ROLI should be pegged with its innovation in touch and music technology. The brand must also appeal to the target demographic of producers and musicians so they will be interested in buying and using the products. There must also be a link to the products themselves, using a connection from their sleek and minimalistic design.

Research

Current Logo of ROLI via © ROLI Ltd. 2019

First I had to determine what separated ROLI as a brand from the rest of their competitors. Obviously, the first thing that stuck out was their revolutionizing touch sensitive products. It was also important to understand how the competition branded themselves to better differentiate from them. After the research of other companies was complete I decided to research ROLI’s current brand and discover how I would be able to shift their brand to better fit the music industry and showcase themselves as leading engineers of music technology. What I found about their current logo is that it doesn’t best its abilities to showcase their touch technology.

The Major Competitors of ROLI

Design Strategy

The main Component that I knew should be incorporated was ROLI’s touch technology. It is the largest differential between its competitors making it crucial to be part of the brand. It was also important to fit the culture of the main market, which is an electronic or digital production music industry. Within this industry, it is mostly surrounded by black with a very small amount of colour due to its more rhythmic over harmonic design.

Imagery

The imagery was the next step to get an understand of how the brand should reflect itself as a serious, eclectic, and fun manner.

  • Show music community exchanging Ideas.
  • Capture the creative process.
  • Comfort during live performances.
  • Serious and Fun environment.

The Logo

For the process, I wanted to focus on the keys and the different products of ROLI. This came up with multiple different sketches of minimalistic keys and blocks. I found that these ideas didn’t work well because there was no real connection from the sketches themselves to the brand itself. I then started to look at the “R” in the logo mark and thought of different ways I could improve it. I started to design in the lowercase before going into the uppercase. At this point, I wanted to connect it to the touch sensitivity of the products. To do this I started to play around with the curvature in the type. By doing this, I was able to pick out the design of the final logo.

The Final Resigned logo

The final logo is a derivative of upper and lower case characters. However, it still retains its readability as a custom display font. each curvature is based off a circle. This is to represent the hand flow across the products to create new and unique sounds. It is black to stay true to the industry and culture of electronic music, it also allows great contrast for other pairing colours. The logo reflects the brand's ideology of simple, innovating, futuristic.

The Graphic Device

For a brand, a graphic device is crucial for good marketing and application. For ROLI, the graphic device was take from the R in their logo, just cutting off short. this was done to keep that fluidity, make it sizeable to any surface, interchangeable to any colour, and applied anywhere while still making a connotation with the brand.

The Typography

For consistency, the typography had to be something that reflected the brand’s ideology. To do just that, Avenir Next was selected. This typeface also holds similarities to the logo. It is also clean, minimalistic, and has a perfect circle O like in the logo. For different hierarchies, the weights of ultra light, regular, and bold italic were selected.

The Colours

With the main colour just being black, there needed to be some accent/highlight colours that ROLI could use to have good contrast. The colours Light Blue, Rose, and Purple (Iris) were selected for their representation of creativity, possibility, dedication, innovation, and inspiration.

The Stationery

To stay true to the brand the stationery had to reflect its ideology as well. For the letterhead, We have the ROLI logo in the top left corner with the body text aligned to the end of said logo for a structural look. To fill the white space in the respected areas. The graphic device is placed in the top right and address information is located on the left of the page. For the backside, ROLI is larger in the top left with a graphic device of each accent colour taking the opposing corners. For the business card, we have a simple back of the logo and the front with a right flushed name, position, and address in a respected hierarchy. A graphic device fills in the white space of the card.

Stationery

The Product Application

The application on the logo translates to black on black varnish. This way depending on where the light is hitting the product the logo is still easily visible. A black on black approach also keeps in touch with a simple and minimalist design which backdrops the target demographics culture of digital production.

Conclusion

ROLI is a company looking to change the music industry through touch sensitivity and creativity. Their brand represents simplicity, innovation, and futurism. Rebranding ROLI has taught me about creating connections to a demographic and industry through simple means and powerful design. Looking forward, I will go back to these sorts of projects to see what I can retain or improve on in future projects.

Thank You for reading! Give yourself (or me) a round of applause!


All imagery of ROLI keyboards are courtesy of © ROLI Ltd. 2019
All concept Imagery from Adam Whitlock, Frankie Cordoba, Hans Vivek, Joseph Young, and Nicholas Green

Owen Morley

Written by

UI and Graphic Designer based in Toronto.

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