GrandArmy reflect Analog:Shift’s horological passion in the watch seller’s multi-faceted identity
NYC-based creative agency GrandArmy have worked closely with vintage watch seller Analog:Shift, defining everything from its visual identity, copywriting, illustration and strategy to packaging design, positioning and event planning. Enlivening its visual language and tone of voice to reflect the eclecticism of its horological offering. With such a rich legacy of timekeeping pieces available on Analog:Shift’s roster, alongside the subsequent cult following of watch obsessives and aficionados, it was the role of GrandArmy to effectively translate their enthusiasm, variety and emotion across the visual language – shaping Analog:Shift to be as much an experience as a brand.
The identity takes a systematic approach to capturing Analog:Shift’s multi-faceted audience and goods; beginning with a charming trio of typefaces. Right Grotesk by Pangram Pangram Foundry takes centre stage as the primary typeface, with support from Lineto’s Bradford and Milieu Grotesque’s Maison Neue. “Each font in our typeface system has unique merit for its role, but they also all enhance each other when combined,” Creative Director Joe Haddad tells us, backing the prolific family of Right Grotesk alongside Bradford’s nostalgic, storytelling tone and Maison Neue Mono’s mechanical aesthetic.
GrandArmy opted to use an altered cut of Right Grotesk for the brand’s wordmark, modifying its letterforms to translate the detailing of watch faces and mechanisms conceptually. “It was important that the wordmark has a relationship with the typeface system it will so often be seen with,” Haddad recalls, “but also contain enough unique details to tell a story about the brand when seen alone,” using this notion to embellish the typeface with more pronounced geometric detailing and vertices. The bringing together of many, somewhat minor, changes, such as the flattened cap of the ‘A,’ sharpened ‘g’ and tailed ‘t,’ result in a timeless, considerate wordmark – one that sits effortlessly next to older and newer timepieces. “The wider cap ‘A’ balances better against the wide ‘S’ when the mark reduces to an ‘A:S’ monogram,” he adds, referring to the additional use of modified lettering within the brand’s bespoke suite of supporting graphic lockups.
“The secondary monogram suite was developed as a resolution to the issue of historical reference within the brand system,” Haddad explains, having sought to embody Analog:Shift as a brand both future-proof and trend-avoiding. “Any primary brand mark that referenced a specific era or fashion did so at the expense of others,” he suggests, decidedly combating the issue through a sense of historical neutrality. However, in doing so, leaving themselves “with a small mountain of stylish, distinct marks that could no longer be used.” Furthermore, Haddad recalls that “the suite contains an ever-growing collection of ‘AS’ marks, with each drawn in a distinct historical style or fashion,” he continues, referencing diving watches, racing livery or merchandise, whilst also voicing Analog:Shift’s expertise and awareness of watch history.
Reflecting a similar dedication to legacy, the thoughtful colour palette used across the brand not only references the hues of timepieces gone by but also embodies the passion innate to Analog:Shift. “The approach we’ve developed is a set of colour prompts rather than a set of colour rules,” Haddad tells us, with each prompt relating to the story of a specific watch. “Each product tag within the Analog:Shift visual merchandise system has two slots for colour: one background colour and one coloured stripe,” he explains. “A vintage diving watch might be paired with a blue or seafoam background,” Haddad suggests, “whilst a Rolex Submariner 1680 ‘Red Sub’ would have the stripe slot filled with red,” directly referencing the watch’s colour whilst appealing to its fans. “These kinds of gestures resonate with deep watch fans and create strong colour variation,” he notes, “even within the same product category.”
AnalogShift’s colour considerations come powerfully into play within the brand’s use of illustration and animation. “All the brand illustrations and animations were created in-house,” Haddad explains, beginning with pulp adventure novel-inspired static monochrome sketches used within the identity’s grid system. “It evolved into a library of very distinct imagery developed by our team and the A:S team,” he continues, taking deep dives into the story of specific watches and their most famous wearers, from mountain climbing to deep-sea diving. “The conceptual impulse, like many other aspects of the brand,” he contextualises, “was to compress an adventurous, glamorous imagining of history with the reality of our present,” bringing the classic and contemporary together, as Analog:Shift does too. “These images don’t represent history as it is,” Haddad concludes, “but rather the effect of history when it sparks our imaginations, just as vintage watches do.”