View Project Overview

Intermediate Visual Communication Design 2 • Fall 2020

5 months • August–December 2020

Project Type
Brand Identity Design

InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop
01 Problem • noun • a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution.
The objective of this project was to gain an understanding of visual identifiers that can be implemented to convey a brand. These identifiers will be used to communicate a brand's messaging visually. Visual communication will be supported by user research data. This data would be collected via survey.
The purpose of this semester-long project was to explore all of the possible visual communication styles within a brand. The brand can either be made from scratch or an existing brand that might need further exploration. This project contains similar elements as my XIII Frame project two-years prior. This study was less focused on becoming a full branding manual but rather a quick booklet to be shown at a stakeholders meeting.
The goal for this project was to have a complete booklet that contained all important assets for a brand identity. This study focused on the key elements required within branding such as mark creation, color scheme, typography, etc.
02 Research • verb • investigate systematically.
Direct vs In-Direct Competition
Before beginning the design process for a brand, you must first look at competitors. This is a standard process in brand design because you look at how similar brands choose to solve design problems.
Looking at specific industries, there are trends present. An example of this is the use of red in the fast-food industry. Color theory plays an important role in why fast food companies use specific colors. The same can be said across all industries. Whether it's color, typography, imagery, or visual forms, there are always trends. Not all trends are as clear as red in fast food branding, so it's important to do your research before commencing on your identity project.
Direct vs in-direct comes into play when you want to do an audit of similar companies. I felt it was important to do both because you want to see how companies in the same space approach their designs, but also look at companies that are similar but not the same product or service. Sticking with the example of fast food, you could look at Wendy's, McDonald's, and Burger King. They are all direct competitors of each other. If you want to bring in some in-direct competitors, I would say Subway, Chipotle, KFC. These companies might also be fast food and incorporate a drive-thru, but may have a different type of food offered (KFC). Or they could be the food industry but not have a drive-thru (Subway & Chipotle). It's important to look at all of these because they relate to the original companies but in different ways.
03 Brainstorm • verb • produce an idea or way of solving a problem by holding a spontaneous group discussion.
Establishing the Identity
After gaining an understanding of what already exists, it is important to shift the focus on establishing your own identity. To start, I focused on finding terminology that I felt accurately described the brand I wanted to create. The terms were natural, calm, simple, refreshing, and approachable. These all carry unique meanings that help tell a story. With the brand focusing on skincare I wanted it to be soft and natural. So I used these terms as a starting point of what I wanted to communicate.
Sketch it up
After determining what has been done by the competitors and creating a starting point for the brand, sketching was next. My professor (Paul Nini) had the class do three different types of sketches. Iconic, indexical, and symbolic. Each one was slightly different and was implemented to encourage different types of marks. Iconic is when the mark is exactly what it looks like (ex. a bottle of lotion). Indexical is when the mark looks like something relatively close (ex. a leaf or aloe). Symbolic is when it is an abstract mark.
04 Create • verb • to produce through imaginative skill.
Clean, Refined, Natural
With a lotion company, it was important to have a smooth and soft mark. If the mark is rough or bold it wouldn't align well with the product/service. A big part of this was transferred over the most effective sketches into Adobe Illustrator. Once there the refinement can start with rounding edges, adding symmetry, and having greater control of stroke width.
A subtlety I wanted to convey in the mark was a contrasting light to medium stroke width. This contrast in stroke is a strategy I pulled from type design. Often typographers will control the stroke width on a letterform and carry that throughout an entire typeface. This strategy changes from classification to classification and over the years varied in the amount of contrast. The reasoning behind its application here was to provide a more natural/organic looking mark. If the mark had no contrast, it might've come across as too mechanical.
The Breakdown
When imaging what iconography would best depict lotion, I had a few options. I wanted to explore droplets, leaves, aloe plants, etc. The focus was on nature and elements that put the focus on organic shapes. The mark that kept performing well in critiques and surveys was the leaf/droplet mixture. This is ultimately the mark I ended up going with.
The goal with this mark was to combine a leaf and a droplet seamlessly. This was done by splitting the mark vertically in half. The left half depicted a smooth curve and the outline of a water droplet. The right half showcased a leaf and the stemming on the face of a leaf. An important change I made throughout the process was opening up the bottom right corner of the mark. This was done based on feedback from my professor. He suggested cutting the mark into different elements to allow for color change down the line. My approach to this was separating the stem from the droplet so I would have two unique shapes.
As I transitioned into color and type, the mark form I originally designed had a heavy influence. When it came to color, I looked back at the leaf/droplet form I had created. My first thought ended up being green/blue to complement the duality I had created in the form. Both of these colors lean towards a natural connotation. The opening in the bottom right essentially became a gigantic arrow when it came to directing the viewer's eye. The white space forces your eye towards the right of the mark which allowed for a lead into the horizontal mark. This mark would have the type placed to the right of the mark.
05 Test • verb • take measures to check the quality, performance, or reliability of (something), especially before putting it into widespread use or practice.
Surveying Review
With deciding on a final mark direction, it was paramount that it was reviewed. To do this, I sent out a survey with the mark and the aforementioned 5 terms. The goal of this was to see if the terms matched what was being perceived when viewing the mark. This survey was sent out to peers, family, and friends. All of the terms appeared to be seen in the mark. With each term having a majority of the votes leaning towards that side of the scale.
The most important term was natural, which in the survey was paired with its antonym, artificial. This term had the highest percentage of votes with 68.1% leaning towards natural. Utilizing a survey helped to back up the decision making throughout the design process. The results of the survey prove that the mark is being perceived as intended.
06 Improve • verb • make or become better.
Adding in the Elements
With the mark being finalized, everything else was able to fall in place. The approach to the typography was soft sans serif set in all-lowercase. Brand imagery took a similar approach as the color scheme by looking at the leaf and droplet from the mark. The images used were either nature-themed or were lotion products in use.
Next came packaging, signage, and vehicles. These all took a very simple approach and put a focus on the color scheme and mark being used as an abstract crop.
Mark Lockups
Versatility was also an important concern that must be addressed. This is where the color came into play with the mark. Depending on what the substrate is and the design style explore, I needed to make sure that the mark lockups had a variety of foreground and background colors.
07 Solution • noun • an answer to a problem.
This semester was one of my favorites. I love branding design and this was the second time I've gotten the opportunity to take a brand identity course. Both classes had a semester-long branding project. These longer projects are enjoyable because you get to go into subtle details of the brand. I was able to apply what I had already known about brand design and couple it with what I learned throughout this project and semester.
Back to Top