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The design project we undertook is one of the most important investments we’ve made. It enabled us to effectively communicate where we wanted to be as a business.Max Nodder, Business Development Director, Viper Subsea
Viper Subsea was launched in 2007 to provide management, engineering and procurement services to the offshore and subsea oil and gas industries and the offshore wind turbine industry.
Though a technically innovative and highly skilled consultancy, at the time the Bristol-based business was relatively small - with a full-time staff of just 15. As part of the management team's long-term development plan for Viper Subsea, the company decided to start developing its own products to meet the specific and specialised needs of its customers – high-spec, rugged and reliable products able to function at depths of more than 3,000m beneath the water's surface, and work reliably for many years.
By late 2009 its first product, the V-Lock, was nearly ready to launch, but the company was uncertain about how to brand it effectively and how to create a framework for future new product development. That’s when they approached Design Council to see if they could benefit from our Design Support Programme.
What we did:
Viper Subsea was introduced to Design Associate Kathryn Hughes, whose first step was to lead a workshop at which external design advisors worked with the management team to analyse all aspects of the business. The session highlighted a number of ways design could enable the company to realise its goals.
Hughes explained: “Viper’s relatively small size in a market dominated by large organisations was a potential disadvantage. It needed to ensure its branding helped it be taken seriously enough by the industry's establishment to step beyond consultancy into its new field: product development."
Hughes worked with Business Development Director Max Nodder and his team to draft a detailed design brief, summarising their objectives for the project. She then brought in Bath-based design agency Mytton Williams, whose early recommendation it was to start with a review of the overall company brand identity.
An important first step was to agree with the design team an outline of precisely how the design development process would work. The project was broken down into two distinct phases: designing the new brand, and executing it across a range of different materials, including the website.
The design team developed three design concepts for Viper Subsea to consider. Each comprised both a proposed new corporate brand and suggestions of how this would shape product branding. The brand solution the management team chose was simple, with the basic combination of shapes and colours meant it was flexible to use for future projects, too. This then informed the development of a product branding framework using V- as a prefix across an evolving product range.
The rebranding was key to instilling confidence amongst our customers. The product branding provided us with a solid foundation for building a successful range of products and services over time.Max Nodder, Business Development Director, Viper Subsea
The V-Lock was launched at the SPE / ITF Technology Showcase exhibition in September 2010, in conjunction with the new branding and website that had been developed. Sales over the 18 months that followed were strong and the company secured its first customers in two key strategic markets: the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil.
Since then, Viper Subsea has had great success in developing its customer base and it continues to export worldwide, including countries as far afield as Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Australia and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Turnover has increased on average more than 45 per cent year on year, while staff numbers have almost tripled. It has launched a number of new products and services, including the award-winning V-LIFE, which won 2014’s Technology Innovation of the Year category at the National Private Business Awards 2014 and the Subsea UK 2014 Innovation Award.
Our attitude towards and understanding of design certainly changed. We are very happy with the investment we made and the results it generated.Max Nodder, Business Development Director, Viper Subsea
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