Sadler & Swain: the story behind the brand

Sadler & Swain: the story behind the brand

28th October 2020
Thoughts & Insights

Our recent move to the Swan Buildings presented the opportunity to design a brand for our new coffee shop. Rather than being a corner of the room the space needed a brand identity. Here we explore how we created the Sadler & Swain brand and the story behind it.

For a quick version of the brand story…

Sadler & Swain,

take flight again,

from buried pitts,

raised bags of grain,

and as times past,

we must sustain,

this creative space

for intelligent gain.

Where did we find inspiration for the brand?

Going back to the 1700s

Built in 1915 Manchester’s Swan Street and the surrounding area is steeped in history so we really didn’t have to look far for inspiration.

The grounds which our new studio is built was known as Shudehill Pitts during the 1700s. The ‘pitts’ were large water reservoirs with nesting swans which provided the area with water supplied by the River Tib. The area was becoming a hot spot of industrialisation with Griffins Iron Foundry and Higginbottoms Rope Yard close by.  


Inspiring the copper foils layered in the design, The River Tib (now underground) rises from a spring named Coopers Pit in Miles Platting and broadly runs towards the top of Tib Street, down to Tib Lock and under First Street where it drains into the River Medlock.


Mr Edward Swain, a talented entrepreneur


One of the first residents of 20 Swan Street was Edward Swain, a corn and flour dealer. His name has been traced back to even earlier. An Edward Swain is recorded as living in Shudehill in 1773 and selling flour at No 1 Swan Street, New Cross.


Mr James Sadler, the ‘king of balloons’


Sadler was the first English Aeronaut and was known as the ‘king of balloons’. In 1785 he made an ascent in a hot air balloon from an area which is now known as Sadler’s Yard in Manchester (reported to be named after Sadler), across Warrington, Bury and Liverpool. It was a big hit with the locals – applauded by the thousands.


 ‘The manner with which this Business was conducted, from its regularity, ease and punctuality, does Mr Sadler the highest honour and we can say with justice that every person present was warmed with heart felt satisfaction on the occasion’. Jacksons Oxford Journal

Sadler then made two following flights which attracted attention from major celebrities of the day, Sarah Siddons – widely regarded as one of the greatest female performers in English Theatrical History. This would’ve definitely been an ‘Instagram’ moment of its day.

The Sadler & Swain brand identity

Sadler wasn’t only a thinker but also a credible chemist and pastry chef.

Swain was an entrepreneur selling corn and flour.

The common ground between them inspired us to unite the names Sadler & Swain, their stories and combine with the rich local history. We wanted a brand mark which was bold but delicate enough to be applied to packaging all while being deserving of the two daring entrepreneurs.

Our immediate inspiration was taken from the Griffins Iron Foundry and Victorian era. This is reflected in the decorative flourishes around the weighted typography which has been carefully crafted to feature many elements of the Sadler and Swain story. ‘Supra lunam’ and the crown celebrates James Sadler – a crown fit for an intrepid aeronaut.

The Swan Building is referenced as the birthplace of the brand with the second ‘s’ crafted as a swan, which is balanced with a visual reference to corn and flour which Edward Swain sold.

Adorned with copper flourishes the solid area of the type has been aged through oxidisation and green patina that’s befitting to the old and new lease of life that we’ve given the characters.

If you’d like more information on our strategic brand development offering, drop us an email at

JON WIDER 2 small
Article by Jon-Paul Lightfoot

Head of Packaging

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