The Origin of our Brand

…Or the story of how and why Sofie named the coolest start-up “Puffins”

Occasionally somebody asks me: “What is your thing with those Puffins?”. So I decided to write a blog post about my thing with Puffins. My very first blog post of many to come.

shot by the talented Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove

shot by the talented Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove

What is a Puffin?

For those of you who are not aware, or mistake our company for an edible cake: a Puffin is an avian species, and more specifically a seabird, which belongs to the family of auks. They are about the size of a pigeon, but exude much more charisma with their colourful beak, orange feet and dinner-suit plumage. They are sometimes called the ‘Penguins of the North’, but they outclass their Southern hemisphere colleagues by far, because they can fly. Its scientific name is ‘Fratercula’ and there are 4 subspecies, of which three have to share the Pacific (the horned, the tufted and the rhinoceros) and the smallest, but our most treasured one, dominates the Atlantic, hence called the ‘Atlantic Puffin’.

When did the Puffin enter Sofie’s head?

On 19 April 2016, her birthday of all days, Sofie entered “Starterslabo”, where passionate wannabe entrepreneurs can test a start-up idea in a safe lab-like environment for the course of 18 months. After 6 weeks of intense workshops, the wannabe entrepreneur presents his or her project to a panel of experts from the field, a moment of intense scrutiny and feedback feared by most, but enjoyed by Sofie. The only thing that makes Sofie uncomfortable, is the technical patience required to create a sophisticated powerpoint presentation. Inspired by Scandinavian minimalism, Sofie chose the picture/title format, confident to just tell the story live. Sofie’s presentation about her digital platform of authentic Nordic experiences called for an adequate opening image. Something related to the North. It was an afternoon of magnetic storms in Sofie’s head which resulted in the name you know so well by know. For some or other reason, her mind kept roaming in animal kingdom looking to name her nameless project. She remembered a friend told her an animal brands well. But the reindeer, or the moose, no offence, did not really spark Sofie’s imagination.

It was Mr. Google, and the keyword Arctic animals which delivered “Puffins”.

puffin opening blogpost.png
pitch .png

Why it was love at first sight

It was brilliant. It was the perfect match. Books on Puffins were ordered and devoured. A bird that breeds along hard-to reach coastline in the North Atlantic along spectacular wilderness cliffs. A bird that takes on the seafaring life during the winter, travelling solo at sea exploring God knows, which faraway places. A highly gregarious seabird so fun to observe, and one very loyal to its colony and partner. An adventurous bird which dives deep and flies for miles to catch small fish. It was love at first sight.

shot by the talented Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove

shot by the talented Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove


This called for an awesome logo

So the Puffin made it to opening and closing image on Sofie’s powerpoint presentation on that 31st of May. The Puffin love spread. Colleague and fellow wannabe entrepreneur Stijn Saelen from Stereographic had been listening carefully. Stijn is a gifted graphic designer passionate about the creative solutions of drone imaging, or the bird’s eye view on the world. He secretly started working at home on a logo and a master deal was in the making. Sofie was to write the texts for Stijn’s website in return for the logo. Talking about brilliant cross-pollination. The logo was spot-on. Brilliant in its simplicity. We love it. At the heart of the logo is a compass needle which points to the magnetic North. The Puffins brand was born.

Whenever you feel like you’re losing track, follow Puffins’ compass. It is at the heart of our brand and it points to the magnetic North.
Sofie Vanmaele1 Comment