For the Love of Horses
BY KIMBERLEY ZHOU, DESIGNER
Drawing on the love people have for their horses, and the desire to create a like-minded community, Baseline has designed the identity of an online marketplace for horse-lovers to meet and connect, sharing advice and horse-related goods.
Catching an idea
The adage might say that a man’s – or human’s – best friend is a dog, but I know horse lovers would have their own thoughts about that.
Horse-owners share a very strong bond with their horses. But owning a horse is a big responsibility (including financially) and horse-owners love any opportunity to share ideas and advice about horse care, and to buy and sell equipment in a cost-effective way.
To that end, Baseline was approached to create the brand identity and look and feel for an online marketplace where people in the riding community can engage with each other and trade horse tack, feed, and all sorts of horse-related paraphernalia and advice.
I was the Designer on this project – my first key project after graduating with my Visual Communication Design degree from the Massey University’s School of Design. That was understandably nerve-wracking, especially as I didn’t know much about horses! I had to learn about horses and horse-owners’ needs.
Thorough research is essential when beginning any design project, especially one to imagine anything brand-new, such as this identity and website.
Luckily our client – a horse lover – had a very clear idea of what was needed, which was an online marketplace brand that was more than just a marketplace. They wanted to ensure the hub we created came with a strong story that would resonate with the horse community, bringing together a wide range of like-minded people.
To create that, after meeting with the client, we interviewed riders and others within the horse community to understand their needs and wants: The age they were when they first rode a horse. What it feels like to ride. Who they are inspired by.
Then the Baseline team came together – our full design and strategy team– to commence ideation. We had conducted a visual audit of exemplar and local offers. We also looked at associated horse-riding, outdoor and lifestyle brands, and how they connected with customers.
We noted what worked and – just as importantly – what we thought didn’t. Then we got to work creating concepts that would appeal to our audience.
Saddling up our ideas
“The team was committed and curious – and focused on getting it right. I’m thrilled with the results including our stunning shoot on my property.”
HAY NAY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Working closely with Stephanie Gasperini, our strategy director, we developed the purpose, values and explored territories, based on our research.
The purpose is “heart of the horsey community”. And the values are, Connecting, Kinship, and Champion.
We explored territories, and the area that resonated was ‘First Love’, and the idea that most horse lovers really, really desire that first horse from a very young age.
We then worked together on a long list of names to connect with our customer and the community. This included “Hey Neighbour”, which we developed, changing the spelling to “Hay Neighbour”, referencing horse feed. That was then shortened further to “Hay Nay”, playing on, of course, “neigh”, the sound a horse makes.
Creating Hay Nay
We decided to explore Hay Nay as a word mark rather than a pictorial logo. The two short, equal words worked nicely as a word mark, and I knew we could create something refined and elegant with those few letters.
I love designing word marks and share my love of typography with Kim Worthy, our Head of Design. Because this is a New Zealand audience, we selected a Kiwi-designed font called Domaine Sans by Klim Type Foundry. Using a stylised capital H and N, I made the lines of the letters link together in a fluid and flowing way, reminiscent of a horse’s reins or a horse galloping and jumping.
For the brand colour palette, we selected earthy colours – mustard green, cream and brown – inspired by the colours of hay, moving from green grass to golden dried and stored feed. Those colours worked well as they were indicative of the site’s purpose, but were warm and inclusive. Those colours also gave us a lot of room to play with the design.
The brand guidelines also included the look and feel for the imagery, which we captured in the mood boards, to help us develop a distinctive tone and style. Our research had shown us that other websites relied on an American style of stock photography, and we definitely wanted Hay Nay’s images to capture our unique rural landscape. Luckily we convinced our client to work with a local photographer that specialises in people and equine photography. Caroline Williams produced evocative and fun-filled images that told the New Zealand horse story.
I was so happy to present the client our ideas – although it was scary to present my first project! Their reaction was so positive. I loved the chance to approach a design project using everything I’ve learned, both at university and at Baseline, and put something totally new and fresh out into the world. That’s my love.
I’m delighted to have had a hand in designing what we’re sure will become a popular hub for New Zealand’s horse community to share their stories – and love of horses.
Q & A
Kimberley Zhou – Designer
As a recent visual communication design graduate, Kimberley Zhou is relishing working with other designers, and happily learning to manage the pressure of deadlines.
How did you come to work at Baseline?
This is my first design job as I only graduated from Massey University in September 2020 – our official graduation was delayed because of COVID-19. I first became aware of Baseline through Summer of Tech, which is how design and IT graduates generally find paid internships. I interned at Baseline and then they asked me to stay on full time, which I was beyond delighted to do.
Why choose to work at Baseline?
I really wanted to work in an end-to-end design and production studio. While Baseline does digital work, craft and print-based production is a large area of focus. I love the physicality of paper, and a large, colourful, well-designed poster is often the best way to reach a customer. Working here has taught me so much about good production practices. Kim, our head of design, has taught me much more than what I learned at university!
What’s one of the biggest things you’ve learned so far?
Time management! At university we might have four weeks to work on a project, but here I might have only four hours. That’s quite a change, but I’ve learned to work smarter and approach projects in a way that I can deliver within a given timeframe.
I’ve also learned to work collaboratively, as at university we’re generally working on our own or with people who have a similar mindset. It’s been amazing to collaborate with people who have been doing this work for a long time, like Kim and Ruben, and have a different aesthetic to me so they come up with different ideas. That’s really fun. I’m also really enjoying working with clients here and exceeding their expectations!
As a newly graduated student, what’s your advice for other design students?
Approach any projects that come your way with an open heart. Embrace everything that comes to you and take every opportunity to learn – ask questions, do the research, don’t be afraid of challenging yourself. Be eager to get out of your comfort zone and just go with it.
How do you express yourself outside of work?
I love calligraphy – which may be part of my growing desire to learn more about my Chinese-New Zealand identity but it’s also a love for form. I don’t write Chinese, but my mother does, and it’s so beautiful. I love practicing the brush strokes. I’m also part of a creative collective with some friends. We make jewellery and other crafts and take them to markets to sell. That’s great as it gives us our own small business that allows us to be creative and meet other people. It’s a lot of fun.