Thrunotes

Waterproof, tearproof, recyclable notebooks for human-powered travel

Client

Self-initiated

Duration

Ongoing

Live project

View

Source files

.sketch

My scope of work

Notebook design and development > Branding > Logo design > Product testing > Photography > Copywriting > Marketing > Motion graphics > Video production > UX discovery > Full mobile-first web design and build

My role

I started Thrunotes in 2020 after the PCT. I instantly became a founder, inventor, marketer, and developer. It feels amazing to have my own company developing my own product that people can take on their adventures.

Water tank photography: Simon Allen

The brand and the notebooks

Audience

Eco hikers

Stock

YupoBlue

Bind

Saddle stitch

Press

HP Indigo 5500

The problem

Every notebook I tried on the trail would either fall to bits after just a few hundred miles or would get completely soaked in the smallest showers. I couldn't find anything on the market which was compact, lightweight, ultra-strong and targeted at hiking.

So, I got to work and started sketching ideas for the notebooks and the branding.

Other waterproof notebooks easily tear

Bound with pencil holder

Flip corners and layout

More detailed layout

Singer sewn bind

Initial sketch

Creating the ligature

Further development

A logo icon

The initial ideas

Sketches

The notebooks had to be small and durable so rounded corners were essential to prevent dog-earing and abrasion. Different methods of binding were explored, but after speaking to various printers, Singer-sewn binding isn't anywhere near as durable as saddle stitching.

A key feature would turn out to be the flip corners where the user can jot down miles and stats for the day and flip back through like a flip book.

The wordmark conveniently had a good spot for a ligature on the U and the N which when connected looked like a switch back on a trail. All these would be explored and acknowledged throughout the branding using different graphic elements.

Barial: Approachable

Basier: Heavy

Calendas: Grown up

Wotfard: Clean

Bould: Typed

Bould: Ligature try

Bould: Flip U

Bould: Tidy

Sharp

Rounded

Finalised logotype

Adding colour and motion

For video content such as how-to's and durability tests I wanted to create a logo animation that would explore the ligature and its directional device as well as making it jolly, happy, bright, and approachable.

Thru animation

Explore animation

Blaze animation

Sketch animation

The logo

A nod to the trail

The finalised logo became a simple lockup of the logo icon born from the ligature and the wordmark. I went for rounded edges on the icon which balanced the sharpness of the other characters and made it more approachable.

The top end of the icon represents a pencil or pen, the bottom end represents a bookmark, while the entire shape represents a switchback on a trail.

Once finalised, I successfully submitted it as a registered trademark. The next task was to begin developing ideas for the notebook.

The strapline

Flip thru the miles

Starting with the core idea of hikers jotting down their mileage in the corners and using them as a flip book, it was a clear decision to use the word flip in the strap line. A popular term in hiking is a flip-flop meaning to hike adjacent sections of trail in tandem.

The strapline 'flip thru the miles' feels like a very easy and playful call to action while also appealing strongly to the audience in multiple ways.

Exploring shape and colour

Developing layouts

Exploring forms

Further development in spreads

Trying different colour schemes

Prototypes

After selecting yellow and blue for a bright and cheerful colour scheme which is easy to spot I began sending proofs to various printers, selecting different waterproof substrates and binding techniques to test.

Synapse + Saddle stitch

Synapse + Wirobound

XE + Saddle stitch

Yupo + Incorrect settings

Testing the final proofs

After trial and error and plenty of testing in the field I found the right printer and the right substrate.

Synapse was cheap, but not very good quality and you couldn't recycle it. XE was okay, but the weight required would emboss through the other side when written on. Eventually I chose YupoBlue, a high quality, fully recyclable waterproof substrate designed to be printed on HP Indigo digital press. The most eco-friendly digital press on the market.

The physical proofs and testing

Waterproof, tearproof

Next steps

Not just for thru-hiking

The first edition notebooks launched with success, going out of stock in the first few days of launching and with orders coming from wholesale customers out in the US like Garage Grown Gear and plenty of other orders from all around the world.

Over the coming weeks I gathered feedback from customers and got to work on the next edition of notebooks which would cater for different uses and types of outdoor adventures.

Thru: For thru-hiking

Explore: For any adventure

Blaze: Lined pages

Sketch: Clean pages for drawing

New designs

2nd edition

After running a customer satisfaction survey it became clear that customers wanted more choice, more pages and different layouts to suit their styles.

Forms were removed from The original to create more free space for journalling, lined pages were added to a version for those who just want to write and a version with clean pages was created for those who just want to sketch and doodle.

The entire collection

Test videos

Waterproof test

Tearproof test

The website

Audience:

Eco-obsessed hikers

Insight:

Customers needed clear options

Platform:

Browser

Device:

Mobile-first

Ultimate goal

Thrunotes needed a website which would make it easy for customers to choose the right notebook for them and the brand's sustainability principles needed to be highlighted to appeal to the audience.

These problems were successfully solved by communicating the manufacturing process through video and story telling. Customers mentioning these attributes of the business in their reviews, posts, and tweets became key indicators that the correct messaging was coming across.

Watch the sustainability video

Home page

Product pages

The final website designs

Overview

Throughout the customer journey it was important to reinforce and guide rail users of the product they had selected by using colour changes and specific spec tables which included relevant imagery.

Originally, a dot navigation was used as a nod to the highlight circles within the layouts, but after conducting heat maps and user testing on Hotjar it became apparent that users didn't use this so it was eventually removed.

The website has developed since the design phase and I've updated some of the layouts in the build, but feel free to check out my design files.

Download .sketch

The future for Thrunotes

What's next?

I have so many ideas for new Thrunotes products which I enjoy working on in my spare time, but I also continue to sell Thrunotes on the store so feel free to go and check them out and get your hands on a notebook for your next adventures.

Buy now

Next project:

Work with me, baby!

Get in touch

(+44) 07934014543