This experience was overall very overwhelming and very scary, as it was the first time I got to work so closely with an award winning practicing designer that really knows his stuff. Coming from an illustration heavy background, my initial focus for this project was to step away from using illustration a part of the solution and to focus on design, layouts and type, ideally with a packaging piece… but I also wanted to focus on brand image and advertising posters.
I knew I wanted to focus on an outdoors related thing, so I decided to brand an event, which I have never had the opportunity to do. Cory is a very research driven designer (one of the reasons I gravitated towards him when picking my mentor), and he proved to me once again that good research leads to good design. We went through a lot of case studies where he showed me how thorough research played a key role in creating a successful brand image.
I decided to brand a Quadrathlon, where the idea of having 5 elements (4 athletic disciplines) as part of the brand really gave me the possibility of going on many different directions. My initial idea was to create a racing kit, or something to do with packaging and the experience of packaging, so very excitedly, I jumped on board to do the research and build a research document that would be what you would deliver to a client. Cory really showed me how different class presentations are to what clients (especially business oriented clients) receive. We are taught in school to make presentations concise and brief – but in reality, business men really like their stats, numbers and long words.
For my research, I was looking at what other popular events were doing. Tough Mudder, IronMan, Spartan Race, Movember, Nike, and the Color Run were my main inspirations.
These events have a big participation number and global followers
Based on my research. I discovered that I shouldn’t target millennials as I originally intended, but rather the next generation up, as they are older, most likely seasoned athletes AND they have financial stability (the wealththletes, being a triathete is requires a certain mindset which is shared with being financially sucessful, oh thank you research!). Since the event has a fundraising aspect (the 5th “discipline”) millennials don’t have as much disposable income as Gen X does.
The new thing I have never done or learned about is that when you’re branding a whole event, you have to craft a Customer Journey Map like a site map but for the event – and with this I was able to pinpoint my touchpoints and which ones played a key role in the event.
I then had enough research and direction to craft my brand blue pring and brand terms.
For self grade, I would give myself somewhere between an 9 and a 10 – I spent a ridiculous amount of time researching and understanding what I was going to brand.
Time to dive into pinterest and google to look for inspiration for my visual language. I knew I wanted to show motion, direction and angles. Being an athletic race, there is so much movement involved in an event of such magnitude.
I started by pitching 3 different, quickly drafted concepts that reflected different words from the brand terms – getting me to explore different executions in a short time. I have never done something like this, so this proved to be extremely valuable when weeding out the bad concepts. We picked one, and went forwards with it. The idea behind this concept, was the immediate trail mark left behind after running, swimming, kayaking or cycling but looking at it from an aerial view.
It was time to move forward and create a logo. I did a logo comparison with the competitors (this event is surprisingly unique) and wanted to create something that would stand out. I decided to rename the event as well. The original name for the event was The Great Artemis Kindrochit Quadrathlon (the what?) but people know it as the Quad, so I decided to rename it as The Great Quad for easier applications and has a better ring to it.
For self grade, I would give myself somewhere between a 7.5 and a 8.5 – the amount of time I spent researching really impacted on my ideation time, I ran out of time as I had to present 4 concepts and I was only able to present 3.
I honestly don’t think I have ever spent so much time researching different typefaces (there were over 100), brush strokes, colors, imagery, and sport events, than I did for this project – and again, it proved me that all of this research pays off.
I learned to keep asking myself the questions “does this typeface feel ___” “does it reflect ____”? if it answers yes, then keep going. I learned how important it is to keep asking yourself if whatever you’re making reflects the brand terms, and if not, then discard it! So important! I then started refining and weeding out the bad ones and ended up with 3.
Once I had my logo figured out (definitely did over 100 iterations as I was tweaking on the go) I felt like it was quite easy and straightforward to explore a visual language that complimented the logo. I decided that I wanted to focus on developing a poster series and then build more collateral off that. Reason was, that by doing so, I would have the visual language figured out.
I created over 100 different iterations of the posters. I learned that working on the 4 posters at the same time helped me create 4 different posters that were cohesive rather than working one at a time, which is what I usually did.
I kept going back and forth between the posters, working on one and applying the changes to the other posters and then tweaking and going back to the original one while taking into account my own feedback, classmates’ feedback, and Cory’s feedback. It was a wild ride. I knew I also wanted to focus on the fact that the race is a partner race, you can race with a partner or in a big group as a relay race, hence why there are always two participants in each poster.
Cory really pushed me on exploring as many different avenues as possible – and I think the outcome shows in my final posters.
Moving forward, I am going to take this project and play with it during summer, expanding it with more collateral and tweaking it as I go without the stress of time.
For self grade, I would give myself somewhere between a 9 and a 10. I refined and refined and refined to get to where I got – with lots of failed attempts (like my b.card and banners) but that led me to my final product which my mentor really liked. .Even though I wasn’t able to create as many pieces as I wanted, I think my take-away was far more valuable than 2 or 3 rushed pieces. I took my time to think things through, to learn and understand a brand, to try everything and to fail fast, and for me, that is far more valuable.
I learned a whole lot from this mentorship.
I haven’t done many branding projects so far (maybe 2 or 3 at most) that were this in depth. I learned that you really have to explore all avenues, all possibilities, and all different combinations, refining and building, asking yourself the important questions and letting things go when you have to. I took a different approach to designing collateral, designing 4 posters at the same time rather than 1 at a time and it really really helped me understand that I have to see the whole picture rather than one piece at a time, which is what I have been doing in the past.
This project really reinforced many things I’ve been learning through school, especially that good research = good design and I learned a lot on the process of branding an event and what it takes to create a good visual language.
I now truly understand how important it is to go back to your brand terms every now and then as it is very easy to go down the rabbit hole and create something that doesn’t reflect the brand. Cory was a super approachable (even replying to emails on Sundays!) and resourceful mentor, guiding me and working closely, making sure I was creating something that was “industry expected”.