A For Adventure

Tales Of Adventure / A For Adventure's Blog

"Tales of Adventure" A for Adventure's official blog.

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Our Top 5 Richmond Brands (We Had Nothing To Do With)

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

A toy, kitch and oddities shop extraordinaire, World Of Mirth was the brainchild of the late Kathryn Harvey, and the final mark was brought to life by the talented Richmond illustrator, Kelly Alder. It says something that I am constantly shocked that World Of Mirth isn't a national chain – yet! 


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!

The Beam

Fern / Roby's latest release, The Beam is a masterpiece of form and function.

Housed in reclaimed heart pine, The Beam "delivers the dynamics you’d expect from a full range speaker, while delivering the imaging and accuracy of a mini monitor. At just over 90db sensitivity, The Beam is equally at home with moderately powered tube or solid state amplification."

Made In RVA.

Anatomy Of An Unexpe-( Spec )-ted Brand Redesign

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.

Original ART 180 logo by Anne Chamblin.

Original ART 180 logo by Anne Chamblin.

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.

A For Adventure's ART 180 logo reinterpretation.

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.

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The mark travels well into mobile, stationary, and any other possible canvas.

bigart180comp

"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.

We Need A Beer Account
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Beer. I mean, it just feels right. We've got a great a grocery, furniture and hard wares, bikes, a denim brand – we've got to get a beer to even this out! And a car or motorcycle account.

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We even made this spec logo for the good folks at Ardent, but they've already got their thing under control, in-house.

A local whiskey could also be nice.

Thoughts?