Below you will find a selection of six members of the Lionwood Client Family. Click each logo to learn more about the visual journey each has traversed: what were the most important factors to be considered, what the challenges were, and ultimately what the results were.
EDUCATION ASSOCIATION OF AVONDALE
A very close friend of mine recently began working as an Elementary School Teacher at Lattie Coor School in Avondale, Arizona. Having gotten involved with the Education Association of Avondale – the teacher's association of the Avondale School District – he noticed that a strong, central, and consistent identity was missing from the organization. He immediately recognized that this lack of strong identity had a negative effect on teachers: they just were not motivated and excited about getting involved in this very important organization.
Having had to suffer—on numerous occasions—my rants and raves on the power of design and its impact upon people, he did not hesitate to contact and enlist me for the job of establishing a new, dynamic identity that would bring new excitement to their organization.
The EAAv needed a wholly new and complete identity system: new logo, new colors, new font, new business suite, and a new MicroSoft Word newsletter template that would allow them to simply fill in the text for each month.
I view the work that Teachers do as one of the most noble callings in society. I wanted to be sure that I did justice to the hard work and commitment that teachers give of themselves each and every day, giving them an identity that communicated strength, stability, and simplicity. I also wanted the colors to reflect a modern southwestern feel as the City of Avondale is a western suburb of the Phoenix-metro area and is one of the fastest growing cities in the state.
I developed 11 different identity concepts, each with varying uses of color, text, and graphics, all incorporating southwestern colors, and each reflecting various art styles. For instance, concept #4 utilized a large Arch or 'A' for Avondale. I wanted to show the lingering effects that teachers have on us as we grow so I incorporated a shadow behind the A, which almost seems to prop up its strength. Teachers are always behind us in everything we do, propping us up to face the world.
Concept #5 was informed heavily by the Art Deco movement of the 1920’s & 30’s. The apple and the teacher is a rather cliché association, so to jazz it up a bit I did a play on the apple stem: representing a young tree instead of a single leaf. The tree represents the children of elementary age and their growth through the years. The apex above the apple represents the A in Avondale, and the soft, centered gradient behind the tree brings the whole logo to the visual center: which is what the life of a teacher is centered upon - students.
Ultimately, the Education Association of Avondale decided that concept #3 was the best choice to match their culture. The A with its collegiate feel, the encircling of the words ‘education association’ to signify unity. They then requested a one minor change to the concept: They wanted the ‘V’ below the ‘A’ removed and replaced with an apple to graphically represent education.
The final result of the Education Association of Avondale's brand new visual identity is found above. Once this device was approved, I proceeded to create a style guide to help each member of their organization consistently apply the identity. This style guide outlines the official colors, the variations of usage, examples of incorrect usage, and the listing of the official fonts.
PARENT’S RESOURCE GUIDE
Every once in a while you come across an organization with so much potential and such virtuous purpose that it inspires you. Inspires you to reach out and do your best because you come to not only believe in their cause, but also firmly believe that your skills, thoughts and perspectives can make a significant impact in the practice of their cause. Such is the case of Parent’s Resource Guide. An organization full of love, loyalty, and a dedication to making the lives of parents and children in the Phoenix Metro area richer and more rewarding.
When we first met, Parent’s Resource Guide had the drive and the proprietary information, they just didn’t possess the best methods of communicating just how powerful their information is. Resources are not worth very much if they are not reaching their intended audience. They are also not worth very much if the information is difficult to peruse or does not capture the imagination of those whom need it. Basically, in my mind, Parent’s Resource Guide needed a complete graphic overhaul to better communicate the character and personality of not only the organization, but also the content. I made it my task to streamline and simplify the interaction between their information and their audience utilizing big, bold colors and pictures of big smiles, bright kids, and happiness all around.
Most of the print collateral that Parent’s Resource Guide was using was produced via in house production. While this approach is functional, the information was too centered on data alone and did not concern itself with identity and style details. In today’s fast paced world, a mountain of data is simply glanced over. No one really takes the time to read anything in depth that does not get and hold their attention. This situation existed on all of their business correspondence: forms, media kits, letterhead, business cards, etc. In addition, turning the focus to a more graphic and stylized emphasis – one which is built upon the consistent use of color and form – requires persistent emphasis on the part of the organization's operators. Convincing Parent’s Resource Guide to make an investment in detail was a top priority in embarking upon this relationship.
Upon a comprehensive analysis of their current graphic identity, I concluded that their text–based logo needed a bit of tweaking to make it stand out more. I touched up the kerning of the letters, cleaned up a few corners, and created a new color strategy. As I mentioned earlier, I consider PRG’s purpose to be quite noble in nature. Therefore I chose a deep royal purple (the color of ancient nobility) as the dominant color juxtaposed against a bright, sunny gold to represent the brightness of life and joy, notions brought about by the presence of children. And instead of utilizing the text only logo, I reversed the color of the text to white and imposed it into a purple rectangle with rounded corners. The rounded corners represent a fluidity and smoothness that is my overall goal in adjusting the personae. In addition, I created an abbreviated logo that was square, still with rounded corners and white text, yet the square is colored the bright gold. This abbreviated logo also has a website variant in which the characters ‘.com’ are added to the base in the same display font style. Having consistent variations of the same identity theme allows for a much greater realm of application than just a single, distinct image.
After polishing PRG’s identity strategy, I proceeded to apply it to the various pieces of collateral the company uses. First and foremost was the business suite. I continued the rounded box, deep purple and bright gold theme into each element. Then I moved to the Media Kit. Due to the complex nature of the information stored in this document (ad dimensions, pricing structures, etc...), this was a significant challenge. In addition, it was decided to utilize an 8.5” x 11” printed sheet with a half fold bringing the final product to 5” x 7” - a much smaller surface area to work with. From there we moved on to the various forms that are utilized day to day, cleaning up and clarifying most of the information that is elicited on each form, simplifying the flow of the user. In some instances we made the forms into fillable PDF’s complete with automatic calculations and operations.
The next application was to tackle the 2009 magazine cover. Finding just the right information to include about a magazine’s contents on the cover is always a delicate dance. Too much text takes away from the cover shot and competes with the masthead and gives people a feeling of getting beat over the head with information. Not enough text serves to stunt the product description when a reader walks by the magazine rack. After a long, informed, and tested photo selection process, the 2009 cover finally came into fruition and served to inspire the layout throughout the rest of the magazine. Doing so in a much more clear, concise, and fresh manner.
The Final Result
The biggest and most challenging project involved was a relaunch of Parent’s Resource Guide’s website. In this day and age a website can make or break a company. It is not simply being available online, it is how effectively you communicate online that makes the difference. What was needed was a complete redesign from their old website to a new, graphically bold and dynamic website that would get attention across the digital universe. And additionally, this website was to serve as the capstone of the PRG re-branding journey. Again adhering to the principles I set forth in the new identity scheme, I wanted big smiles, bold contrasting colors, and soft, dynamic easy to use interactivity. Also, this website was going to be the ground floor for continued growth in PRG’s digital future so it had to be modular and easily expandable.
Below you see the difference between the old web strategy and the new dynamic design. I think the pictures speak well beyond anything I have typed thus far.
It is quite rewarding to hear how each of these changes has manifested immediate, real–world results for the better. Not only in the way PRG’s clients and target audience interacts with the new designs, but how you see new excitement and joy in the eyes of those that you promised your work would make a difference.
When it comes to auto racing, many times it is a family affair. McKean Motorsports engenders that reality with 3 generations of racing. Racing primarily open-wheel dirt cars and dragsters, McKean Motorsports wanted a new graphic identity to incorporate their passions for racing and automobiles. In addition to the new identity, they also wanted to establish a presence on the internet to be able to more effectively communicate with their fans and to further facilitate the acquisition of sponsors.
In this case, McKean Motorsports had an older graphic identity that they had been using for nearly 15 years. The visual was simply that of a cursive text spelling out the family name with the word ‘motorsports’. While the word ‘motorsports’ clearly states the purpose of the name, visually, the graphic did not communicate anything about racing. In addition, the McKean Family are all die–hard Ford fans. They wanted to incorporate this love into their new identity as well.
With this project I did not have to conceptualize any artwork as Scott McKean, the owner of McKean Motorsports, told me specifically what he wanted to see: A green and checkered flag behind a blue oval and the name of the business “McKean Motorsports” superimposed on top of the oval. He specifically left the determination of flag position and style, specific color selection, and specific font choices to my designer’s eye.
Knowing that the colors of blue and green make up one side of a four color tetrad relationship, I decided to focus first on finding these two colors. Due to the strong visual this artwork was going to display, I wanted to make sure that the green in the green flag and the blue of the oval did not provide too much weight to one side or the other. In addition, anything checkered catches your eye faster than any solid so special consideration had to be made to make sure the green could compete visually with the checkers on the opposite side. I chose to incorporate strong 3–D shading on the green flag to help balance this visual dance. In addition, due to the roundness of the blue oval, I chose to round the bottoms of the flags to wrap and frame the oval and text thereby enhancing its visual significance.
Also, to further soften the boldness of the checkered flag on the right, I chose to put the family name in a bright white colored, thickly weighted, sans-serif text that is slanted forward 15 degrees to denote the idea of motion. In a nod to the tradition of the family, we decided to use the font of the old identity to spell out the word ‘motorsports’.
Upon completion of this, the checkered flag was still dominating so I added a bright white ring around the outer portion of the oval to carry the eye across to the green flag. This finally created the visual balance that I was looking for.
The Final Result
You can see the difference between the two graphic identities above: going from an all text graphic to one that incorporates color, symbols, and text into a dynamic, centered design. From this stage we then moved forward to creating an internet presence. Incorporating a contemporary, metallic look complete with blacks and greys really makes the color of the logo stand out as well as all other pictured information. On top of this, we decided to add animation because in motorsports things move. A website about a motorsports family had to have motion in order to complete the visual journey.