Born Ugly Leeds



Born Ugly is a brand design agency and a creative partnership with a team of strategists, designers and digital activators. We are the founding studio of the world’s most effective brand design consultancy, Elmwood. We are an agency with a strong track record that spans 4 decades and 6 continents but has a new direction. A direction with strong foundations and values, and extraordinary commercial and cultural impact always as its cornerstone.

 Following our demerger as a standalone agency in 2020 it was time to be ‘born again, you could say in the ugliest of years’! We needed a new name and a new brand to live up to our revised vision and brand proposition.

The Born Ugly brand positioning and identity was created in-house by its team of strategists and designers, and crafted by Grammy nominated and Cannes Lion winning artist Alex Trochut.

The Born Ugly name is born from a fundamental truth that even the very best of ideas start ‘ugly’. Whether they help start a fledgling business or help a brand leader stretch their advantage. They all start raw, uncrafted and lacking validation. More than this, the creative process itself is ugly. It is not a sausage machine. It is a process driven by the tension that pushes boundaries and delivers extraordinary impact.

The purpose drawn brand mark is crafted to be ugly and raw, as well as beautiful, seductive and balanced with a mix of lower case and caps. The brand icon is Born Ugly’s ‘mark of potential’ and represents a squiggle used to highlight ideas and insights with the greatest potential. This typically raw and loose icon is drawn in 3D and rotates to reveal a beautifully crafted BU monogram when viewed at 90 degrees. Thus representing the journey from raw to fully formed ideas, the potential within the idea and the extraordinary impact it creates.

The icon itself has potential of it’s own taking on many three dimensional forms to represent and reflect the extraordinary impact we’ve made for our own clients. It can also create impact in environments in a real and tangible 3D form.


The launch has proved hugely successful with amazing and moving responses from clients both new and existing sharing their excitement at going along our journey with us. Peers within our industry have also praised the bravery and impact the launch has created. One such example: “The new identity looks great. You guys should be very proud. I was expecting something really conservative but it’s a nice surprise for sure. Well done to the team for getting that through. Makes me want to relook at ours!”

Commenting on the work, Alex Trochut said: “If you ask me craft and branding have somehow been going in opposite directions in the last years, technological format constraints and a constant aim to try to communicate and please the biggest numbers have led us to the “less is less” in some cases. It has been a great challenge - and pleasure - to collaborate with the Born Ugly team who has been shooting for something, crafted, witty and beautiful from the start. Easy will always be boring, and hard challenges are what brings the most satisfaction into our jobs. I’m grateful to have been part of the birth of this new beautiful and weird brand. <3"


  • Anna SimpsonPaid Media Manager
  • Darren BootlandHead of Technology
  • David SorleyChief Design Officer, Founder
  • Jonathan Sands OBEChairman
  • Matt JonesDirector of Development
  • Steve ShawDesign Director
  • Victoria AttwoodDigital PR and Content Manager
  • * Born UglySenior Partner, Strategy & Provocation
  • * Adam GarbuttDesigner
  • * Sarah DearManaging Director
  • * Joe CookeSenior Designer
  • * Rob SkellyAssociate Creative Director
  • * Becky BoydBusiness Owner & Social media manager
  • * Sabrina AhmedSenior Partner
  • * Alex TrochutTypographer and Artist
Annual 2021 SilverBorn UglyBranding Annual 2021 BronzeBorn UglyTypography Annual 2021 People's ChoiceBorn Ugly3D Project featured: on 11th August 2021 Contributor:

Born Ugly has been a Contributor since 12th February 2016.

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