Refreshening / redesigning a brand is a delicate procedure. Logos are the visual expression of a company, and carry with them memories and emotions for business owners, employees and customers. Despite the inherent nostalgia, everyone could use a new outfit every now and then, and we prefer to treat the process like a grand shopping spree – trying on clothes until we find the ensemble that fits the best and compliments a company's unique style and shape. A few of our favorite redesigns, below...
Hummel Associates came to us to refresh their mark while preserving a nod to the original. Our solution was to modernize the typography and simplify the mark, ultimately leading to a better overall balance.
Fern / Roby
Fern & Roby partnered with us early, at a juncture when they felt ready to grow what had been an internal passion project into a full-fledged hard wares and audio brand. Our design replaced the oversized ampersand with an exciting, stuck arrow element. The final mark is elegant, compact and unique.
Shockoe Atelier (once "Shockoe Denim") wanted a new mark that would help transport them from a local denim maker to a world-class luxury menswear line. Our graphic tobacco leaf references their roots in the historic Shockoe district while simultaneously creating an organic icon capable of multiple interpretations and mystery.
Columbia Business School
We developed this refined mark for Columbia Business School to coincide with an overall brand refocusing and corresponding print and direct campaign.
Resource One needed a ground up redesign. Our bold, revised mark signals that R1 is contemporary and a leader in their industry.
Our speculative mark for ART 180 reimagines the non-profit with a fun, tighter execution of their original mark that increases legibility, flexibility and allows for greater freedom of expression and logo improvisation.
Legend Brewing is the grandfather of Richmond's craft beer scene, and we thought it would be fun to reimagine them through our design lens.
A feel-good brand for feel-good food – artisan hot dogs from the award-winning culinary team at Dutch & Co. Our mark was Inspired by the approachability of the menu, and the good-natured humor of our clients.
A stroop is a Dutch waffle, a delicious staple of the Dutch & Co. Saturday hot dog pop-up where the idea of a dedicated hot dog joint was born. We all loved saying and riffing on the word stroop, so much so that we decided it should be the name of the restaurant, rather than the original working name, Links.
Our assignment grew from logo and beverage labels to naming, brand positioning, website (coming soon), full restaurant ephemera and packaging, as well as exterior and interior design consulting.
Every self-respecting hot dog joint needs a mascot, so of course there's Señor Stroops (or Admiral Stroops, depending on who you ask) – our heroic, Dutchman hot dog riding a penny-farthing bicycle.
Let's face it, Richmond is not a logo town.
Not yet anyways!
Whether it's the regrettable / forgettable silhouette tree craze or just dated typography choices. And yes, there are logo towns. Drive down any major avenue in Austin, TX and you will see air conditioner repair shops with cooler logos than Altria – which, I admit, is not saying much. But we're not merely talking about logos... as Seth Godin puts it:
"It takes more than a hat to be a cowboy, it takes more than a designer prattling on about texture to make a brand."
Or as Jerry McLaughlin of Forbes says:
"...your 'brand' is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name. It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your name brand offering—both factual (e.g. It comes in a robin’s-egg-blue box), and emotional (e.g. It’s romantic). Your brand name exists objectively; people can see it. It’s fixed. But your brand exists only in someone’s mind."
So without further prattling, here are our favorite Richmond brands we had nothing to do with:
5. Mamma 'Zu
An odd choice, you might think, with it's slightly amateur and inelegant handwritten execution, yet the Mamma Zu mark fits neatly into a carefully crafted and curated brand image and experience. Owner Ed Vasaio is a master of the art of humble understatement, expressed in his careful and deliberate choice of location, interior aesthetic, and even his infamous yet exceptional staff. Full disclosure: In 1993, myself and my best friend and local artist Chris Milk designed / illustrated the first Mamma 'Zu t-shirt in trade for a mammoth meal and a lot of wine.
4. Work Labs
Despite their reputations, ad agencies are not always proficient when it comes to branding themselves. Cabell Harris' Work Labs has no such deficiency, with over 20 years worth of award winning branding and self promotion excellence. Whether it's beer, magazines or interactive site experiences, Work Labs never tires of finding new ways to express it's brand, stay current and sell itself.
3. World Of Mirth
2. GWAR, of course!
There's really nothing quite like GWAR – a hilariously macabre, ironic, sarcastic, perverted, silicone circus drenched in fake blood – accompanied by a deceptively-fantastic heavy metal band. Known the world over, the GWAR brand was handmade here in Richmond by a small army of talented artists. The GWAR logo morphs and adapts to each and every application, be it comic book, stage prop or tattoo. The hand and artistic vision of GWAR slave, Bob Gorman, is the most recognizable aesthetic, which seems to touch almost everything they produce.
1. Need Supply Co.
Long before the term hipster was even coined, a small, high-end denim shop opened in Richmond's Carytown shopping district. Almost twenty years later, Need Supply Co. has grown into a national and global online retail powerhouse and innovator – known and mimicked by anyone who's anyone in online fashion. Despite their national success, Need operates slightly under the radar of it's own hometown, where it's good fortunes sound more like rumors overheard some evening at Balliceaux. They rigidly control and polish their aesthetic and are addicted to keeping up with if not staying ahead of trend centers like New York and Paris.
The original Helvetica Neue logo was fittingly designed by a friend and Work Labs alum, creative director / art director David Waraksa.
Let us know your favorite Richmond brands!
A For Adventure has been lucky enough to work with ART 180, an incredible Richmond non-profit, since 2000. During a series of strategic work sessions with us in 2013, the ART 180 staff mentioned that it had been many years since their stationery system was updated, and we offered to pitch in on the redesign.
As we began our initial research stage, we realized we did not have a working version of the ART 180 logo. Instead of bothering them for a file, we decided to build a rough, stand-in logo, to be replaced later with the original when we were ready to build our presentation. Our revelation came when our stand-in exposed opportunities beyond the original.
The current ART 180 logo was designed by a wonderfully talented Richmond artist, Anne Chamblin, in 1998. Anne used her background in painting and printmaking to hand-carve a potato print; the scan of that original stamp is still in use today. The ART 180 logo is literally a one of a kind impression – a piece of art and a moment in time. The scanned logo captures the unique textures created by Anne's carving and the surface of the potato.
We love Anne's logo. It has so many qualities of a great mark; elegant, recognizable, contextual and relevant. Our more stylistically refined stand-in, however, revealed the original might lack a property critical to the ART 180 brand – the freedom of individual expression. The ART 180 logo is frozen – it can't be redrawn, spray painted, lit up in neon nor welded onto steel. It is fixed like amber in it's original execution – that one, fateful stamp.
In the spirit of rejuvenation, we chose fresh and current typefaces with whimsy and presence.
In keeping with a recurring theme at A For Adventure, our color palette recommendation is bold, optimistic, and unexpected.
The mark travels well into mobile, stationary, and any other possible canvas.
"it's like having your mechanic buy you a new car instead of repairing your old one..."
At the end of the day, an unexpected rebrand is one of the last things any company wants to see from their agency. Rebrands can be expensive, but more importantly, they play on emotional connections and attachments the staff and the public have created with the brand.
I'd bet it's like having your mechanic buy you a new car instead of repairing your old one... regardless, ART 180 politely passed on this redesign for now, but did get to enjoy the rare chance to look in the mirror and reimagine themselves, even if only for a few minutes in an otherwise mundane series of meetings.