Our work for AD Ports Group has been awarded six Transform awards and a GrandPrix.

Abu Dhabi Ports was founded in March 2006 as a master developer of ports and industrial zones in Abu Dhabi. The business has grown significantly in a short space of time, expanding into complementary businesses across trade and logistics and becoming a critical part of Abu Dhabi’s economy. Visionary leadership, justifiable ambition and a highly-skilled workforce meant that the group was looking toward the next era.


  • Brand Strategy
  • Brand Architecture
  • Brand Identity
  • Bespoke Typography
  • Brand Voice and Messaging

The challenge

With the help of external consultancies, the Group had undergone a restructuring process that had separated its business into five different units, in keeping with the ambition to become a world-class ports, logistics and trade group.

With a diverse portfolio of businesses that included industrial zones, logistics and digitalisation, the ports-focus of the existing brand was no longer an accurate reflection of the Group’s reality. Moreover, the years of rapid growth and smart acquisitions had led to a complex portfolio of brands.

With these challenges in mind, they approached Saffron. Our task was threefold:

  1. To position the AD Ports Group brand to allow it to achieve its long-term business goals.
  2. To provide the Group with a name of its own, differentiated from that of the ports business. Moreover, to devise a brand architecture strategy to streamline the current portfolio and support future acquisitions.
  3. And finally, to convey the positioning and architecture into a compelling visual and verbal identity.

The solution

Through our extensive research into core trends for the global shipping industry, combined with customer interviews across the portfolio and a benchmarking of AD Ports Group against key competitors, we were able to get a clear picture of the Group’s specific challenge and identify the opportunities for differentiation.

Its greatest advantage lay in its highly talented people and the strong partnerships they cultivated with their customers. From an employee perspective, there was a sense of collaboration and mutual ambition that ran through all parts of AD Ports Group business, so that all employees felt that they were working to a common goal.

With these insights uncovered, we agreed on a new brand idea for AD Ports Group: Collaboration and Imagination.

Brand architecture

The next step was to organize the group brand’s portfolio. Based on their strategic goals and new structure, we recommended a brand architecture model that created a new group brand. This group brand, named AD Ports Group, acts as a conductor for the various business units, allowing them to grow and flourish while also contributing towards a common goal. We then created a new layer of cluster brands to organise the group’s various offerings, from logistics to industrial zones. 


Stemming from the optimised elements of the logo symbol, we developed, in collaboration with the internationally recognised type designer Andreu Balius, a fully bespoke typography that could sit alongside the logo and tie all of the business clusters together.

The typeface, has two full families: a display font for the Group and clusters’ logotypes only, and a text font for all of the communications body copy. To be able to compose the bilingual version of the logotypes and communications texts, the font comprises a full Latin based set of letterforms and the script-based letterforms for Arabic.

Visual identity

The ship’s wheel symbol – a key part of the original brand identity and hugely recognisable in Abu Dhabi – was given a modern update. This allows it to live more easily across the many touchpoints required by a global brand, both digital and physical.

The main graphic device, the ‘radar’, reinforces the idea of ships’ movements as they go in and out of ports, highlighting Abu Dhabi’s central global point of trade between East and West, North and South.

“The new brand has equipped us with the tools to differentiate ourselves from the competition and support our growth”

Glen Impey

Acting Brand Manager

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