Seattle Trike is the first shop in the Seattle area to specialize in selling and modifying recumbent tricycles. While this lack of local competition presents a significant opportunity, it also creates a challenge around education: Many people are either unfamiliar with recumbent trikes, or under the impression that they are only for individuals who can’t ride a bicycle—those with disabilities of some kind.
This new company needed a brand identity that communicates the benefits of these tricycles for people of all abilities—they’re fun, safe, and a great way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. The right branding also was necessary to legitimize Seattle Trike in the eyes of manufacturers, a key factor in gaining access to industry-leading products.
Much more than just something ‘different’
To get a better feel for the company, we talked with the owner about his love for cycling (on two wheels or three), along with his goals, intended target audience, and competitors. We spent a lot of time focusing on the trikes themselves—how they work, their adaptability and accessibility, how they’re perceived, and how Seattle Trike wants them to be perceived.
It was easy for us to understand the branding and perception challenges the company faces, because other than seeing the occasional rider around town, we didn’t know much about recumbent cycling. Like many people, our prevailing thought regarding recumbent bikes and trikes was that they just look “different.” Our team wasn’t sure why someone would choose this option, or why they might need it, either.
The gears start turning
After we learned about recumbent cycling in general and Seattle Trike in particular, we conducted in-depth competitor research and found that very few shops in the area sell recumbent trikes at all; as we already knew, none specialize in them. The limited competition was a good sign and an opportunity for Seattle Trike to own the space. Another positive was the fact that many bike sellers use clichéd visuals in their branding—tires, chains, etc. This meant a unique solution reflecting the specialized nature of Seattle Trike would truly differentiate the company.
As our sketching began, ideas that represented a “3” in some way seemed to resonate most. This was fitting, not just because a trike has three wheels, but also because there are three core benefits of recumbent trikes: adaptability, accessibility, and fun.
At the same time, we wanted to communicate visually that while Seattle Trike does customize trikes for those with disabilities (the shop has an occupational therapist on staff to evaluate individual needs), recumbent trikes are high-performance cycles for everyone. It’s yet another instance of “3”—trike users include performance riders, cruisers for fun, and people with different abilities or physical challenges.
We landed on a concept that exemplifies the idea of “3” in several ways, subtly yet unmistakably. It is comprised of three arms in three complementary colors. Smaller touches reinforce the notion of “3,” including in the negative space, which suggests three wheels, as well as three holes that give the arms a more mechanical feel. Coincidentally, the logo resembles a trike-specific component called the idler.
The modularity suggests adaptability; it can function as a standalone icon or be multiplied into a pattern—and we included this pattern with the suite of logo variations we always provide our clients. It could be used on the shop’s walls, on the website, on branded clothing, flags, and more.
The logo is bright and soft enough to be unique, fun and approachable, while also feeling perfectly at home alongside other high-performance cycling brands. In fact, that’s a great way to describe recumbent trikes themselves, and Seattle Trike, too: Both are different, fun, and perfect for a wide variety of people, from novices to serious athletes.
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