I’ve talked about this in a past post, but achieving the aha moment is really the objective I am always striving to reach. It’s so important to us that, I thought it worth doing another post, focusing this one specifically on how this approach applies to brand identity.

The logo or mark’s primary function is to identify its owner. The connection between this graphic signature and the organization it represents must be relevant, flexible and understandable. It should reflect the character of the organization or product, but most of all it must be unique and memorable.

In designing a brand identity or logo that will be memorable and indelibly connected to its owner, we like to employ what we think of as the “aha moment.” In our business, this moment happens when the viewer is engaged by a visual puzzle–the logo–just long enough to decipher the message, make the connection, and be delighted for the effort. When this is achieved, there is no way the viewer will forget the visual solution in connection to the organization or product.

The “aha moment” is most often achieved by the layering of information. It is the very act of taking two or more different but equally relevant pieces of information, and translating them into visual ideas and combining them in a new and unique way. We began with three questions. What compels one to volunteer their knowledge and expertise? What are the ways we can make contributing easy? How can we frame the knowledge for the greatest utility? We then identified the fundamental elements integral for gathering and sharing knowledge and expertise. These elements, when combined, create a nexus where it is easy to contribute, access and edit information.

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Jacobs Gardner Office Supply 1986
This proposed mark for a regional office supply company uses the layering technique by combining the relevant and the literal. The visual element of the paper clip symbolizes office supply products. It also forms the company’s initials, JG, in a unique and visually surprising way.

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Christine’s Bake Goods 1996
This symbol identifies an Australian baker’s most popular product, Love Cake. In this example, we combined two visual elements to create the memorable mark. Rendering the heart — the universal symbol of love — into a three-dimensional form to represent a cake, illustrated by a bite being taken out of it, turns the image into a relevant and delightful visual for product identification.

logosjd_0004_90 UTB logo

Unlock the Block 2004
This mark represents an activist group fighting to secure the right to vote for felons after they have paid their debt to society. Originally started as a class project at Parsons, the New School for Design, the student team worked with the fundamentals of layering information to arrive at this solution. They created a symbol that is both a stylized American flag and a jail cell lock. Again, two very relevant images that when combined form an unforgettable visual message.

This is the first of a series of posts that cover our approach and thoughts on identity design and brand development. Subscribe to the blog and follow the posts on this topic as well as the other musings of a creative group of desing professionals.

Strategy Studio is a brand design firm developing and implementing identity systems, interactive experiences and visual communications, that tell the stories of new products and established brands–from Fortune 500 companies to non-profit organizations.

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