Overtone is an award winning brand & design agency based in Aarhus. We are jazz, pop, rock, classical and much more. Find the answers you're looking for below, or send your question to answers@overtone.dk and we'll get back to you.

/ About

In brief, what do you do?

Nicolaj: We design brand identities, typefaces and digital products.

In brief, what do you do?

Nicolaj: We design brand identities, typefaces and digital products.

And in a little more detail …?

Nicolaj: We help our clients to speak clearly with their own visual voice and tone. We provide them with insights, tools, guidelines and assets that help them in their everyday worklife and to achieve strategic long-term goals

That sounds a bit fluffy – could you please give us something solid?

Nicolaj: :-) We facilitate brand workshops to clarify strategic goals and visions, design names and logos, create visual identities, typefaces, user interfaces, digital products, websites, book designs, annual reports, album covers and more.

Is there anything you don’t do?

Nicolaj: Yes, of course. We strive to be true to our specialised core design skills. We don’t do advertising, online campaigns, movies, and some other things that others do so much better.  And we certainly don’t do bookshelf branding reports that don’t move, concern or include real people.

Who have you been working for?

Nicolaj: This always seems to be the most important question asked. Overtone has existed since 2004 and we all have a lot of experience – so of course we have a long list of companies that we have helped over the years. What no one asks is: Do you make a difference? Why do you love your job? How do you stay passionate? Questions that makes more sense if you’re looking for an agency or a job position. But since you asked – here's a few:

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/ Brand design

How do you transform business strategies and visions into a visual expression and style?

Nicolaj: It's mainly hard work. Many people think designers are like wizards who just wave their wands. We are trained and experienced in working in a field of knowledge, analyses and creativity, and our clients are the experts in their business. This combination is the main fuel and the rest is just magic ;-)

Do you do branding?

Nicolaj: Yes and no. We provide companies with insights, tools, guidelines and assets that help them achieve strategic long-term goals... The actual branding is what companies do everyday at all levels of communication.

Your cases show work for both small and very large companies. Why is that?

Nicolaj: We actually don't care if you are big or small. What matters is the level of ambition and passion for the project. Of course there can be differences in both complexity and budget – but most important is that everybody is aligned and wants to move forward.

Does my company need a visual identity?

Nicolaj: Probably yes. If you want to benefit 100% of all your marketing and communication activities, it's crucial that everything is true to your brand values and highly recognizable. A visual brand identity wilI ensure that your tactical marketing activities will create brand value, and your target groups will start building a relationship with you. 

Isn't a logo enough?

Nicolaj: In most cases no. Today we´re overloaded with visual information and it takes a lot to be recognized. Just adding a logo to random layouts and platforms doesn't do the job.

/ Type design

Why typefaces?

Rasmus:  Well…first of all, I love working within typeface design, both as an isolated design discipline where it’s all about bringing that very specific typeface to life, but also as part of a wider design concept, where the typeface or type family is an important piece in the design process when building a visual identity.

Type design…why type design?

Rasmus: It’s a tricky question, mainly because it’s also about passion. The boundaries of the type system challenge me – how within that system you have endless possibilities. You need full focus, a trained eye, and every inch of your designer skills. It’s pure craftsmanship.

What can typefaces do for brands?

Rasmus: A bespoke typeface can talk to you on so many levels. It can capture a feeling, underline an atmosphere, express a specific mood but, most important, it can communicate crystal clear on behalf of your brand. When designed in the right way, it stands out as the single most powerful asset in a visual identity – it becomes your visual voice and will be recognizable across all platforms.

How can large companies benefit from using bespoke brand typefaces in their design systems?

Nicolaj: There may be a lot of good reasons for developing a bespoke brand typeface. Here's a few we learned from our clients:

#1 In corporate identities, brand typefaces are an excellent tool to create visual consistency on all platforms. Together with colour, no design element has greater impact than the voice of a typeface. In companies with many tactical activities the bespoke typeface can be the visual anchor that connects the activities to the strategic base.

#2 The cost of font licences has dramatically increased over the last few years. Today companies operate worldwide in many different contexts and, in most cases, it's more simple and less costly to own the fonts exclusively than to buy licences for all platforms, users and campaigns.

#3 Special requirements, such as use on special media, advanced language support or special design issues, may require special typeface features.  

#4 In everyday worklife tasks, a bespoke typeface is an easy and effective tool to use. Whether you are putting a sign on a door or a headline on a presentation, they are easily branded by using the typface.

#5 People take pride in being a part of something special. We experienced that employees, even in accounts or legal departments, get fascinated and feel proud, when a bespoke brand typeface is presented.

What is the budget for a custom typeface?

Nicolaj: That depends on many factors. Today’s production tools and workflows have improved a lot and have caused the production costs to decrease. We often do display brand typefaces that fit most companies’ branding budgets. Of course, large and complex type families with wide language support will be at another budget level.

I want to hear more, how?

Nicolaj: Get in touch or listen to Rasmus talking about the passion of type design, and how to use it as a strong branding tool in this episode af the Podcast "Design Kan..." (Danish only): iTunes, Spotify, Podbean.

/ Digital design

Are you a digital agency?

Anders: Yes and no. When it comes to branding projects, we often work in a digital first (and sometimes even digital only) context. We use our creative and digital skills to create interfaces, digital products or websites that support the brand story and help our clients to create great brand experiences for the users.

There’s a lot of corporate talk about UX. What is that?

Nicolaj: In short? UX = branding. If you help your customers achieve what they want and desire, they like you. If they like you, they want to see you again. In a digital (and analog) context UX is a tool that helps you to strengthen and develop this relationship. Great UX designers create brand experiences that last and bond.

Anders: I completely agree with Nicolaj. And talking of UX, I would add that at times it can feel we are slowly allowing user experience to dictate design rather than letting the design dictate the user experience. Some of the best websites and digital experiences out there push the boundaries, and that is the way it should always be. After all, that is how we ended up here. The hamburger navigation had to start somewhere, right?

Do you code?

Anders: No. We know what can be coded and what can't. And that's it!

/ Misc

Do you make a difference? 

Client 1: "Every day, we experience the strength of the identity – after just two years of existence the audience recognize us solely from our brand typeface and our primary colour. That’s amazing."

Client 2: "In a large organization like ours it's crucial that our brand values are not just words. Our redesigned brand identity, and especially the brand typeface, helped us get our employees’ attention, and everybody seemed all of a sudden to have an opinion on design-related matters."

Why do you love your job?

Nicolaj: Every day I get to learn stuff about other people’s businesses. I love when our clients challenge us and when we can surprise and challenge them. And, of course, I love working with the rest of the band :-)

Rasmus: We have a great variety of clients and they are all very brave. No day is the same, every day is new. We explore new paths. We are always one the move, with our eyes wide open. Inspiration is all around.

Anders: I love the little details that can make a big difference and I love the fact that I get a chance to create work that is both meaningful and beautiful. The hardest part is when you realise that the great world-changing idea/design you had is not good enough or that it has been done before – and a single tear rolls down your cheek :)

How do you stay passionated?

Nicolaj: By constantly trying to avoid the most travelled paths in life. And I play music, read books, write, travel, try new stuff, kiss my wife, listen to my kids, walk...

Rasmus: Actually, it’s quite easy. I’m so privileged to be surrounded by things to be passionate about. Great people at work, a lovely family, working with things I care about, things that makes me eager to learn, listening to great music, the daily bike ride along the shore of Aarhus. I thrive on challenges, and designing for tomorrow is a challenge to be passionate about :-)

Anders: I do all kinds of stuff – listen to music, read books, take long showers, talk to my girlfriend and sometimes I just try something I wouldn’t normally do. I can recommend watching the documentary "Art&Copy" just once a year to get those creative juices flowing. See the trailer here.

Overtone is a small agency. Why is that?

Nicolaj: Overtone should never be larger than a band. Everybody needs to perform to their best and everybody is on the poster. It's easier that way to stay focused – we don't use our time on internal meetings, we all know what's going on, and there is a direct line from client to designer and nothing gets lost in translation.

Can a small agency work on large-scale projects?

Nicolaj: Yes. We work with some of the largest organizations and companies in Denmark. Some of the projects we work on are on the same scale, which normally calls for larger agencies. Our size makes it possible to be very flexible and, when more hands are needed, we include trusted freelancers in our team.

Anders: Of course we can. If you hire a large agency of say 300 people, you don't actually get 300 people working on your project – but you do get a lot of account managers and project leaders who need to be paid!

Do you turn away projects?

Nicolaj: Yes, it happens. Being and staying a small agency makes it necessary to be very clear about where we create most value. Both for our clients and our own brand.

Do you have a special way of working?

Nicolaj: No, not really. We know multiple methods, and we learned that there's no one truth that fits them all. We feel comfortable working in many different environments, settings, teams, methodologies – and we strive to be flexible and supporting for our clients doing the work processes.

You are all designers. Do you understand business needs?

Nicolaj: Yes, of course! But maybe not like you do. Brand design is about translating business strategies, visions and talk into easily adaptable concepts. And that’s what we do.

Anders: Good design is good business!

What is an Overtone actually?

Overtones are essential in giving instruments their unique sound and timbre, and reveals the unique difference between the various instruments. Normally you don’t notice the overtones, but this lady will teach you how to overtone sing.