In February 2015 StudioDBD was tasked by OH OK LTD with the job of starting to create a brand identity for a new public house. The pub was to be built by hand and from the ground up by members of the public. The name suggested was The Pilcrow and the main concept was to hold multi-disciplinary workshops for the public and invite volunteers to construct and craft every single element of the pub from the door handles to the stools. 




Every aspect of the brand had to be created including colour schemes, typeface choices and logo development. We worked closely with Ben Young and Jessica Higham at OH OK and Joe Hartley who were all working together on the project.

The first task was to create a symbol for The Pilcrow which needed to be simple enough to be used as a brand mark on a variety of materials from clay through to wood. We also wanted, and needed, a secondary shape or graphic. As the pub was to be constructed in quite an iconic structure it seemed ideal to use the 'house' shape as a subtle alternative device that could be used alongside the pilcrow mark.

The house shape allowed us to have a bit of fun as we were able to screen print it onto limited edition t-shirts as a 'pocket', make folded print material (to mimic the shape), or create interesting pub games from it. 

If you look closely it's also incorporated into the floor outside the entrance to the pub.

The client wanted to see a wide range of different options when looking at creating The Pilcrow symbol. We literally filled walls with shapes and sketches. Each time we made small alterations and enhancements to feel more and more comfortable with the symbol.


The branding we created needed to be as adaptable as possible. We kept to some guidelines initially, but the journey of building a pub was entirely new for everyone and this meant we had to react with new graphic design elements as aspects of the build/concept changed. For example, when creating the bar top myself and Joe thought it would be good to try to incorporate the brand mark in some way. The logo itself acted as inspiration for the shape of the bar and can be seen on the images below being created at one of the many workshops.



The workshop element of the build was getting increasingly more and more important and one of the consistent tools being used was the humble pencil. It seemed appropriate to therefore design some carpentry pencils. Initially these were to be given away to volunteers as a thank you gift. But we also realised the potential of the pencils for marketing material as well. 


A big thank you to M3 Industries who constructed the brand mark as a ply LED lit sign. This will light the way to all those who are looking for a pint or two. The sign shows the importance of the simplicity of the logo. Initially it could have been seen as perhaps too straightforward, but it was imperative it could be used in many forms and constructed from various materials. The logo needed to be a sign of quality, almost acting as a makers mark for the overall project. 

During the Pilcrow project a brief came in from the client to create a brand identity for The Workshops as there was discussion about a possible sub brand developing. We created an identity that was based around a toolbox theme with a variety of compartments designed to hold different items and the logo itself to change and adapt just as the concept of a workshop often does.

The Pilcrow pub opens its doors on September 23rd to the public and an entirely new chapter begins. There will be new images added to this project as the finishing touches to the pub are applied and hopefully the brand will continue to evolve. You can find out more here and read an interesting article about the project at Creative Review here - The project has been really community led and with it a pub has been designed, built and created by a wide range of people. It challenges the concept of ownership and hopefully those involved in the building of the space will feel that they own a part of something special in Manchester.


Photography by Rob Evans