52 Limited, a tech and creative staffing agency headquartered here in Portland, Oregon, recently rebranded. They used the rebrand as an opportunity to simplify their service into two channels, finding talent and finding work, and they created two custom Scout Books to match this binary approach. We sat down with Creative Director Duane King and founder of 52 Limited Brooks Gilley to hear about their rebrand, how Scout Books fit into their strategy, and what’s next for 52 Limited.
Tell us about the inspiration and design direction for the 52 Limited rebrand.
DUANE KING: I met Brooks Gilley, the founder of 52 Limited, within weeks of moving to Portland and a shared dedication to the design community made for an instant friendship.
The 52 Limited rebrand was an extension of this dedication to community–and the perfect platform to demonstrate what happens when client needs, what you are good at, and what you love align. It was also an opportunity to exercise a human-centered design approach that focused not just on functional needs, but also their emotional and social aspects. And like 52, I wanted to activate a network of friends who desired to push design and technology in service of human needs.
With that in mind, I assembled a team of the best-of-the-best; friends with a shared passion for pushing the industry forward. Long-time collaborators, Matter Supply Co, and the talented husband-wife illustration duo, Always With Honor made for a ‘virtual agency’ that afforded the targeted effectiveness of an agency with the efficiency and creative potential of a design studio. And together with 52’s trust, it made for magic!
Staffing up for a project or seeking employment is stressful and often impersonal. Conversely, 52 Limited is personal and friendly. Their business is centered on relationships and finding the perfect fit. Since the website is often the first time that people meet 52, it became an important cornerstone of the brand personality. As a result, we boiled down an introduction to 52 Limited into a friendly utility with two simple choices: Find Talent or Find Work.
We worked with Always With Honor to create custom icons illustrating that 52 Limited was serious about work-and just as serious about play. Online, the icons sprung to life using SVG animation thanks to the wizards at Matter Supply Co. And offline the icons become a playful nod to luxury monogram patterns. Perfectly suited for Scout Books!
What was fun or challenging about designing the Scout Books?
It is easy to develop brand myopia when it comes to branded goods. Logos and colors are table stakes for brands. You must create desire. And if you make something special enough, they (and your brand) become part of people’s daily lives.
Why did you choose notebooks as part of the launch of the rebrand? And why Scout Books?
People love Scout Books! And Scout’s new gray covers and blue and navy inks made for the perfect covetable complements to the 52 Limited brand. Why two colors? Blue for Work and navy for Talent. So cool, you gotta collect ’em both!
In your words, what does 52 Limited do, and who do you work with?
BROOKS GILLEY: 52 Limited is a digital staffing agency. We connect creative + technology talent with leading brands, marketing and engineering departments, start-ups, design firms, advertising and interactive agencies in the Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco markets. We were the first locally-owned staffing agency in Portland, and those community-minded values still hold strong today.
We work with passionate professionals. Whether that’s a client who leans on us to build a team able to accomplish what they dream or whether that’s an individual who needs to see where their talents might best fit in the creative+tech landscape.
How are the notebooks shared?
52 Limited has been giving out Scout Books at our community events for years, from CreativeMornings to Design Week Portland to Career Tools. It’s like handing out candy… we only bring as many as we’re comfortable giving away.
Scout Books, with these incredible designs by Duane King, have been going to our newest talent during the on-boarding process and to prospective clients when we’re having good conversations. We also handed out quite a few during the last Tech Crawl.
Any fun projects or events coming down the line that we should share?
Yes, actually. After a productive stint at CENTRL Office on E Burnside, 52 Limited is moving into its own space again. This time, though, the building is all ours. We’re not exactly real estate moguls but you can bet the space will work for us, work for our talent and clients, and work for our community. Look for some great events at the new space in NE Portland in 2019!
Oh, and guess who’s helping us brand the new digs? None other than Mr. Duane King. He’s noted how our brand palette along with the Scout Book materials align with the natural wood and concrete of the new space. I can already tell this is going to be fun.
Huge thanks Duane King and Brooks Gilley for taking the time to speak with us about this project! Find more from Duane via his website, and find Brooks Gilley at 52ltd.com.
Originally published on December 11, 2018.