Essen introduce warmth and individuality into Sage Homes’ personality-driven identity system
International creative studio Essen have worked comprehensively with Sage Homes, previously known as Sage Housing, to craft their rebrand, developing a renewed strategy, name and identity. Founded in 2017 to tackle the UK’s ongoing housing crisis, made all the more prominent by the cost of living crisis, Sage Homes look to make affordable housing a reality for those who previously thought it impossible.
Tasked with finding a sensitive and compelling way in which to discuss and portray affordable housing, Essen approach the design similarly to how Sage Homes operate – by putting people first and centre – leading the strategy and identity with the notion of ‘homes to build lives in.’ Due to this focus on people and individual personalities, Essen allowed imperfection and humanity to influence the identity’s core elements, from the unconventional framing of photography and warm, welcoming colour palette to the hand-rendered illustration and mark-making.
“The illustrations were developed in-house and in close collaboration with the Sage team,” Creative Director Anton Gårdsäter tells us, “just as with the photography concept, we wanted to celebrate imperfection and individuality,” hoping to portray the reality of life and not a fictionalised version. “All of this was to increase the feeling of relatable homes where people can thrive and build their lives,” he adds, noting the subsequent application of hand-drawn illustration. “We only used black lines and then coloured a couple of elements in each illustration,” Gårdsäter explains, “as if colouring a children’s book, not worrying too much about colouring outside the lines.”
The accessible and inviting vibe created through Sage Homes’ illustrations continues throughout the brand, prominently manifesting in the use of typography; with the studio opting for Santi Rey’s characterful serif Gazpacho as the primary headline typeface. “For sub-headlines, body text and all other smaller sizes, we chose the clean and modern sans serif Matter,” Gårdsäter recalls, from Displaay. “Its lively shapes and rounded dots allow Sage Homes to communicate with clarity while remaining approachable,” he adds, making for a unique and approachable combination of typefaces.
Alongside the contemporary graphic elements implemented by Essen is the inclusion of Sage Homes’ owl icon, a legacy from Sage Homes’ previous brand that underwent adjustments to fit the new identity better. “The owl is a celebration of Sage’s heritage as well as an embodiment of their brand values and mission,” Gårdsäter concludes, “a friendly and wise owl, nesting within Sage’s homes.”