When it comes to identity design, the process always begins with a thorough investigation into client objectives, audience expectations and understanding the industry’s visual vernacular. Only when a solid foundation has been established does the tip of a pencil make its way onto a sheet of paper where a variety of relevant concepts start to take shape. It is this sketching process that allows us to explore a wide range of ideas before moving onto the computer where we tweak and fine-tune the final selections. Here are just a few of the sketches that emerged.
Below you can see the next step in the identity process as we set out to digitally rework the ideas that showed the most promise. PSC works with a variety of materials so we wanted to incorporate into their brand expression various textures and surface treatments wherever possible. We then took these ideas to the client and discussed our findings, making sure to select only those designs that would translate well into actual logos given where it was to live, and how it was to be used.
From here, we were able to narrow down our options even further, resulting in three potential identity directions from which the winning design was selected. We explored color options, and the use of various rendering techniques such as embossing, engraving and chemical etching for that extra special touch.
Because their work involves tremendous precision, and often requires aligning custom parts with existing machinery at extremely low tolerances, we wanted to try and communicate this through the experience of interacting with their business system. How did we do it? Instead of printing their contact information on the letterhead, we suggested they go with a special laser-cut business card that would fit snug inside a series of small, die cut notches in the paper. This cost-saving measure gave their card a dual purpose, functioning as an informational header, and a very unique leave-behind that’s sure to make a lasting impression. In the end, careful planning, and listening closely to our client’s needs, resulted in an award-winning identity solution that positions PSC as a leader in their respective field.
Here is the final design…
Paul Rand: American Graphic Designer (1914 – 1996)
15 years after his death, Paul Rand’s ideas on design and corporate identity still influence designers around the world. This website celebrates his life and work. It’s worth a visit: http://www.paul-rand.com/
Here is the new [nameless] logo for Levi Strauss & Co. that is making its way into stores and other promotions in the U.S. and Europe. There’s no doubt this simplified icon aims to capitalize on the brand equity the company has secured in their 150+ year history, but I have to question its use as an effective brand identifier.
To begin, I wonder whether or not the “bat wing” on its own is a familiar enough symbol such that the public is going to immediately recognize it as belonging to Levi? I’m not sure I would have recognized it as belonging to Levi had I seen it in a different context.
Isn’t the Motorola logo also affectionately referred to as a “bat wing”?
Essentially, what Levi is doing is taking a logo and trying to turn it into an iconic symbol, similar to the way the swoosh functions for Nike. The main difference, however, is that the Nike symbol has been in place since the beginning. It was never part of a more prominent graphic, and it was never a piece that was leftover from another design. It was, and always has been, just the swoosh. For years, it was shown with the name in both their advertising and on their products. As a result, we have been conditioned to associate the popular swoosh with the Nike brand. Today, it enjoys the kind of recognition other companies only dream about. Not so for Levi. I would argue that, like myself, more people associate the name Levi and the color red with the Levi brand than they do the bat wing which, when seen on its own, doesn’t elicit the same kind of emotional response, at least not for me.
Whether or not the bat wing will ever reach the same status as the Nike swoosh remains to be seen, but if the main function of an identity is to identify, which I’m pretty sure it is, then I’m not totally convinced this was a smart move. I can appreciate the effort to try something different as a way to renew the public’s interest in the brand, but to completely remove the name seems a bit extreme and a little risky.
This commemorative stamp, featuring an Amur tiger cub, is the latest edition to the USPS campaign to raise funds for vanishing species. It was illustrated by Nancy Stahl. Buy yours today from the USPS and help save these beautiful animals from extinction. Click here.