Skip to main content


A whole brand manufacture

Armac Martin a whole brand manufacture

A whole brand manufacture

British manufacturing exudes luxury. And the brass making industry of Birmingham truly shines with Armac Martin at the forefront.

Founded in 1929, and now in its fourth generation of family ownership, the new 2023 leadership – siblings Richard and Robert McGrail (co-CEOs) and Melissa McGrail (Head of Sales and Marketing) – were setting a bold goal: to triple growth. 

They identified three key things they needed to do to support success:

  • innovate the brand – strategy, identity and architecture – to be ready for global audiences
  • fully engage and unify their whole team around the new direction
  • better understand their customers’ needs to nurture opportunities

We have an ambitious growth strategy to significantly scale the brand globally over the next ten years,” observes Richard McGrail. “To achieve this, we needed to establish strong foundations that enabled us to identify how we can successfully attain these targets, whilst continuing to deliver the highest standards of product quality and customer service excellence.

With much to consider and many competencies to cover, a multi-faceted partner with the strategic vision, creative skills and business understanding was sought to help them take those steps.

Flintlock was selected and asked to help.

A new direction

The project consisted of four phases: 

  • Discovery
  • Development
  • Build
  • Branding
Phase 1 - Discovery

Getting down to the brass tacks

Firstly, we visited Armac Martin’s Birmingham HQ and factory to immerse ourselves in their world. We toured the workshops, viewed the products and met key personnel.

We discovered a world of old and new. Skilled polishers and lacquerers carefully hand-finishing everything, technicians operating leading-edge precision-cut machinery, people sharing and learning their skills and trades across the generations, often the same family. 

After this introductory session, we facilitated a full leadership Spark workshop, reviewing the business strategy, the competition, and listening to and identifying what was working well and where perceived improvements might be needed.

Over the next few months, we revisited HQ to run Sprint Spark workshops with small groups, until we’d engaged with nearly all its 120+ team. These provided a forum for every employee to have the chance to share views with an objective listener, knowing that all feedback would be grouped and anonymised.

When we took over, we set a strategy for growth. but that means change, which we knew wouldn’t be easy to navigate without our team being on board,” says Robert McGrail. “The Spark workshops created such a positive energy and enthusiasm for where the company was going and what we could all achieve together.

Lastly, we conducted Spot Spark calls with key stakeholders, customers, collaborators and industry experts to gain their external perspective on how the brand and business was performing. Flintlock joined the dots between the internal and external experience.

“Collaborating on a long-term project like this means we can really get under the skin of business” notes Tasha Gladman, Founder of Flintlock. “Richard, Robert and Melissa actively wanted to absorb, learn from and leverage those learnings, which is wonderful for us and will be rewarding for them and their team long term.” 

Phase 2 - Development

Precision-cut strategy

During the Discovery phase we unearthed many positive attributes, which gave us three strong strategic themes:


It was our view that these alone were not strong enough to enable Armac Martin to mark them out from the competition, who were theoretically saying many of the same things.

By contrast, we’d heard from customers that for them there was ‘nothing quite like Armac Martin’. It was their ‘trade secret’ and go-to. There was a high degree of attachment and confidence in the brand.

We started to build our strategy. 

Firstly, integrating the ten-year vision with its focus on People, Planet and Prosperity and their ambition “to design, refine and manufacture the finest quality furniture hardware in the world’. 

We then, wrapped descriptors around their purpose to create more clarity. 

‘For the defining details’ became “Crafting brass for the defining details that give people lasting pleasure in their homes’. 

The strategic themes were clear, rational and believable. But, in luxury markets, the customer is not always led by rational reasons alone. They connect to a brand emotionally. Our insight demonstrated that Armac Martin had emotion, luxury and proof in spades, but was not leveraging that. It was an opportunity. 


We wanted to take these differentiators and translate them into an essence that would deliver that all important emotional driver. 

To help bring this to life, we wrote out a narrative thought: 

In anything in life, getting nearly there is the easy part. Most people can be quite good at most things.  It’s the final 5 % that’s the hardest. But it’s the final 5% that makes the difference.  A fake Rolex is 95% right, Formula 2 drivers are 5% slower than Formula 1. A Next shirt looks 95% as good as a Boss one.  But the difference is real.  It’s the law of diminishing returns – we are human and we chase that return. It’s the same at Armac Martin – it’s the final 5% that makes our products lift every room they are in.  It’s our dedication and drive to achieve that quality in design, execution and service that means we’re trusted by the professionals. By not resting until we’ve delivered the best products, designed with scrutiny and delivered with professionalism we make sure we never leave that 5% on the table.

We then distilled the narrative thought down into a clear rallying-cry and essence: 

‘Always delivering the final 5%’.

We then created three core brand pillars and ‘reasons to believe’, validated by our insights, to form a platform for the brand’s key communications messages:

  • Touch the quality
  • See the design
  • Feel the service

The brand model was completed by layering in the values from their ten year vision, and defining a  brand personality with a warmed-up tone of voice: 


After agreeing the strategy, we then facilitated a Get Sparked workshop to review the opportunities and areas for improvement, utilising the fresh insight gathered during the Spark Workshops to support and inform the areas to build on or improve across aspects of operational and business management. 

This empowered the leadership team to prioritise and agree management actions to evolve the team culture and to plan for the roll out of the brand to customers. 

Flintlock have been integral in helping to grow our culture, vision and strategy for the coming years. There has been so much gained from these conversations and the insights have pushed us forward

Melissa McGrail, Head of Sales and Marketing, Armac Martin
Phase 3 - Build

Adding some polish

The Armac Martin leadership also felt that there was an opportunity to organise and bring clarity to their extensive collections with a product architecture. The goal was to align this to the brand strategy and put in place an architecture, with a future-proofed framework that would enable them to innovate and grow the product range. 

We facilitated a dedicated Spark Workshop to gather insights and learn from the leadership, marketing and sales teams about all aspects of their proposition. This included products, finishes, style, pricing and markets. 

We discovered that they weren’t always making it simple for the customer. No single part was making the other stronger or reinforcing the brand story. We needed to drive transformation. Our recommendation to implement a Good, Better, Best system that would:

  • Help ease use and understanding for customers
  • Keep the range broad within a clear framework to maximise sales
  • Ensure they could still create high-quality design in smaller editions to showcase the aspiration behind the brand

Built up upon our years of retail experience, we introduced the team to a ‘Good. Better. Best’ strategy. This framework was reinvented for them into Signature, Speciality and Luxe collections and applied to all products and finishes. A clear logic made it easy for the internal team to understand where each collection should sit. It also made it simple and easy for customers to navigate and choose from. 

Critically, we linked the architecture logic to the brand strategy to ensure they would consistently deliver to the brand promise and stay true to the values. 

Additional sub-categorisation was needed to organised collections into styles. Every collection would be first be classified as ‘contemporary’ or ‘classic’ and then assigned to an ‘aesthetic style’. This also future-proofed and gave the design team scope to grow or adapt to the aesthetic of a market or design trend.

Finally, to do more to bring out the brand storytelling we introduced a system to ensure all names of future flagship product development would connect to the Armac Martin’s Birmingham roots and heritage story. For example, their newest ‘Cocktail’ collection was given names inspired by the streets around Birmingham’s luxury cocktail bars and hotels, enabling marketing to create memorable and distinctive brand content and experiences for customers. 

The introduction of our new categorisation has enabled us to streamline and significantly enhance how our customers interact with our collections of hardware and finishes,” says Robert McGrail. “The initial feedback we have received from customers has been overwhelmingly positive and we look forward to the benefits the new structure will provide for both our business and our customers.

Phase 4 - Branding

Luxe and lustre in the look

Flintlocks’ final task was to translate the brand strategy and architecture into a new visual brand identity.

 We felt that the existing look and feel was refined, following the semiotics of order and modernity. 

But, it lacked distinctiveness. A monogram had recently been dropped. The ‘handwriting’ font was digitally-created and generic. And the colour palette was also limited and somewhat cold. 

We saw an opportunity to elevate the brand personality with more warmth and a stronger luxury aesthetic.

Our creative team created a new monogram and a new original handwriting font to reflect elegance and craftsmanship and precision.

From - To

We extended the colour palette to bring out more warmth and applied this to the Signature, Speciality and Luxe collections. 


We introduced a selection of graphic brand assets and new fonts that could be deployed across all marketing channels and to truly deliver the final 5% 


Lastly, we produced a brochure and presentation box for the ‘Cocktail’ collection with a theme-inspired visual asset to elevate and support the storytelling.

Beautifully Clear Result

The foundations of our success

The new branding, supported by the strategy and architecture, launched in February 2024, so it’s early days. But, the Armac Martin team are already introducing positive changes and making progress.

Tasha and the team have thoroughly delved into every aspect of our business and provided us a solid foundation for growth. It’s been an incredibly enlightening and insightful experience. We all believe that a strong brand and positive company culture are the foundations of our success, and we're committed to fostering an environment that supports growth, creativity, and collaboration. Thank you to Flintlock.

Richard McGrail, CEO, Armac Martin
Armac Martin img 13b Armac Martin img 14b

Another bite at the apple – Simplyhealth / Denplan

Let’s create a spark together