In previous posts I have explored various vectors of brand identity such as Brand Architecture, Values, Resources, Brand development, Cultural Associations and Brand Recognition.
In this post I will explain the development of my own brand & the problems I encountered.
I first explored the values that I felt made me the person or designer I wanted to be. I did this through a quick mind map.
Some of the key descriptor’s this process revealed included a Passion for my work, Fun, Planning, Teamwork, Systems, Logic & Challenge. It also revealed some of the things that motivated me such as a love of the out doors, sailing, experiencing new cultures & traditions and sport. All these things and more make up the person I am & influence my decision making process constantly.
Personal Qualities: Outward looking, reliable, honest, dependable,loyal, responsible, teacher.
Design Work I Like: Process refinement, web, UI/UX, publication layout, branding, identity, marketing, problem solving, product.
Visual Presentation: Clean, Upright, Fit, Fun, Smart Casual, Professional.
Design Target: SME’s, NPO’s & Collaboration.
Raff’s of Skerries, a restaurant with an office above providing design services. Not a fully visable design studio or shop.
Image Depot, Skerries. A framing store providing design & restoration services. Not a very well laid out website but very visible around the north county.
Snap Printing. A one stop shop for printing & design including print design, web design & identity work. Very visible chain.
Fletcher Bently, Balbriggan. A custom design studio specialising in web but extending to print, identity & IT systems. Very clear sense of what they do, good clean website but not very visible around the north county.
My Core Idea.
To provide experienced advice to SME’s & groups looking to lift their ideas off the ground floor.
When exploring inspiration for my brand I was very conscious of some of the most important elements in design such as colour & shape. My research focused on the perceived meaning attached to various colours & shapes. I matched these with the values that were key to me. For instance, the colour palette for my brand became a mix of Blue, Orange & Black.
Some of the meanings attached to colour & shape.
BLUE: Sea & sky, open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, inspiration, and sensitivity. It also represents meanings of depth, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith and intelligence. It also has positive effects on the mind & body.
ORANGE: Is believed to be the color of joy and creativity. A blend of red and yellow, it is a mixture of the energy associated with red and the happiness associated with yellow. Orange is associated with meanings of joy, warmth, sunshine, enthusiasm, creativity, success, encouragement, change, determination, stimulation, happiness, fun, enjoyment, balance, freedom & expression.
BLACK: Associated with power, strength, authority, elegance, formality, authority, and sophistication. Black is required for all other colors to have depth and variation of hue.
I also spent some time exploring the various meanings associated with shape. I focused mainly on the Square/Rectangle, Triangle and Circle.
SQUARE: Squares and rectangles are stable. They’re familiar and trusted shapes and suggest honesty. They have right angles and represent order, mathematics, rationality, and formality. Rectangles are the most common geometric shape encountered. The majority of text we read is set in rectangles or squares.
Squares and rectangles suggest conformity, peacefulness, solidity, security, and equality. Their familiarity and stability, along with their commonness can seem boring. They are generally not attention getters, but can be tilted to add an unexpected twist.
CIRCLE: Circles have no beginning or end. They represent the eternal whole and in almost every culture represent the sun, the earth, the moon, and the universe. Circles are used to suggest familiar objects such as wheels, balls, many kinds of fruit. They suggested well-roundedness and completeness.
Circles have free movement. They can roll. Circles are graceful and their curves are seen as feminine. They are warm, comforting and give a sense of sensuality and love. Their movement suggests energy and power. Circles suggests community, integrity, and perfection.
Because they are less common in design they work well to attract attention, provide emphasis, and set things apart.
TRIANGLES: Triangles can be stable when sitting on their base or unstable when not. They represent dynamic tension, action, and aggression. Triangles have energy and power and their stable/unstable dynamic can suggest either conflict or steady strength. They are balanced and can be a symbol for law, science, and religion.
Triangles can direct movement based which way they point. They can be used to suggest familiar themes like pyramids, arrows and, pennants. They can suggest self-discovery and revelation.
The strength of triangles suggests masculinity. Their dynamic nature make them better suited to a growing high tech company than a stable financial institution when designing a logo. Triangles can be used to convey progression, direction, and purpose.
CURVES & SPIRALS: Spirals are expressions of creativity. They are often found in the natural growth pattern of many organisms and suggest the process of growth and evolution. Spirals convey ideas of fertility, birth, death, expansion, and transformation. Spirals move in either direction and represent returning to the same point on life’s journey with new levels of understanding. They represent trust during change, the release of energy and maintaining flexibility through transformation.
Clockwise spirals represent projection of an intention and counterclockwise spirals the fulfillment of an intention. Double spirals can be used to symbolize opposing forces.
Some early examples of the exploration of colour & shape when developing my logo.
Naming My Business.
In the process of choosing my name I found that a word I have used consistently through the years to describe a lot of what I do, not just in design, kept coming to the surface.
The Irish word Grá meaning love or passion is often used in the English vernacular. People would often say “I have a grá on me for a good cup of tea”. Some of the other ideas I had for a name just didn’t seem to speak to me as much as this did. It’s ties to the Irish culture while also being used in an English sense is important also as I am very aware of & proud of our heritage.
The name is short, visually striking & has elements that can be adapted for use as a stand alone icon.
The other elements in the final design include representations of the sun, mountains & a bird. All referencing the links to nature & freedom that formed my character over the years.
The Paul Rand logo test.
Once I had developed what I thought to be a strong set of options for my logo I used the Paul Rand test to see how it stood up.
I had a range of results from the different variations of the logo I had developed, some scoring low & others much higher. Paul Rand suggests that if your logo can’t score in the 65-70 + point range its not worth moving forward with. My logo scored at 68. (Some landed as low as 48)
My logo is intended to be versatile and ready to fit numerous situations. It consists of the company name – Grá – which is Irish for Love or Passion and is used regularly in the English spoken vernacular sense to explain how someone might have a passion for something, eg: “I have a grá for acting”.
I have used Aktiv Grotesk for the font. This is a very upright & strong font that has a large font family ranging from Hairline to Black. I chose a medium weight in black for the name. The “A” is also incorporated into a representation of a mountain with a bird in front of a rising sun. This last makes the connection with my love for the outdoors & the source of most of my creative energy.
Lastly, the “A” and the rising sun can also be used as a stand alone graphical mark for use on things such as stamps or favicon or anywhere I need the brand to be represented without using the full brand name, or where something more subtle is required.
Here is my logo in B&W.
My font choice has been based on the Aktiv Grotesk family which has a good range of weights. My secondary set of fonts for use on the web includes Calibri. All my font choices can be found in my brand guidelines below.
My full brand manual can be found here. hugh-shelley-final-gra-brand-guidelines
or on Behance here
I have applied my brand guidelines to a number of projects so far. For example, when developing a prototype website I applied the colour palette to the background & key elements.
I have also applied it to documents when presenting an identity project to aid in separating my proposal from those of others.
Here are some examples of my brand in action.
Some advertising posters.
The marketing material I intent to use should portray an adventurous & outdoor life loving impression.
Here are some more examples of design work I have been responsible for recently.
Having had a critical look at my brand since putting it in to action I have found some issues that I intend to address.
On some of the “A” & rising sun logos the left leg has at some point been moved further to the left than it should be. This is throwing the logo off balance.
I am beginning to think that in planning for multiple uses of my logo I have developed far to many versions of it. I think the logo can be given more freedom in how it is represented in colours but don’t now think I need to have a file for each one. I think I need to look at my restrictions a little closer.
Lastly, I have started to notice that the black text in the logo does not reproduce very well on some backgrounds. I don’t think using the block colour background is suitable in all cases so perhaps a look at allowing the text to be reproduced in white is an answer as in the white symbol mark in the t-shirt image above.
Read about the development of the Brand Manual here.