Owned and operated by industry veterans, Bayou Steel is a proudly independent producer of high-quality steel products with national reach. The company's history spans some 50 years,1 but 2016 marks the first time that its three main mills — in Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee — have been united under a single name. To bolster its brand profile, Bayou Steel engaged Graphiti Associates, a boutique design agency in Seattle, to develop a visual identity that's relevant and engaging, and reinforces the company’s core mission.
1. In 1970, Bayou Steel was founded in LaPlace, LA to transport raw materials and steel products. The Vinton, TX location began production in 1962 under the company Border Steel. The Harriman, TN location is a rolling mill that has produced steel products for over 25 years. They've operated under various names throughout their histories (most recently Arcelor Mittal), but are now united under the Bayou Steel moniker.
As a small, independent organization, Bayou Steel prides itself on the intimacy of its operations and the quality of its products. Our goal was to weave these two threads into a compelling narrative.
We wanted a visual metaphor that could represent the company's dedication to quality, and also feel specific to its processes. What we found was the billet — a “semi-finished” steel product that is the raw material for all of the company's other, final products. Embodying strength, integrity, and ingenuity, billets serve as a perfect symbol for Bayou Steel's quality products and practices. Leveraging them as an icon, we developed a logo and visual identity that is bold, authentic, and modular, like the billets themselves.
Part of what makes billets effective is the way they are recombined to make finished steel products. In the same way, Bayou Steel’s strength derives from the combination and collaboration of its people. Working with photographer Patrick Kehoe,2 we developed a photography and video style to help bring its people to the forefront of the Bayou Steel story. Instead of a regional player content to stay that way, the public sees a rounded, human portrait of a company ready to compete coast-to-coast.
2. The first piece of work I saw by Patrick was his short mockumentry "The Toastmaker." It's witty, well-shot, and just the right amount of sardonic. His work is all really great, but if you see only one thing from him, make it The Toastmaker.
The new visual identity for the Bayou Steel Group works to embody the authenticity at the heart of everything the company is and does, emphasizing the integrity of its relationships and materials, and summing up their operations with a single phrase: