While working on an event for Keep America Beautiful, I was given an opportunity to help tighten their branding. While KAB has been around since 1953, their identity has undergone a few shifts. Because KAB relies on freelancers for creative work, the lack of brand guidelines made it hard for designers to onboard to the brand quickly – an issue I had first hand experience of when I created an experience for a TrashDash event in South Norwalk, CT. After the event was over, I was asked to help with some more corporate pieces. I pitched to leadership that I would like to create a system that staff, future creatives and agencies could all follow.
My role at first was to listen. Where did some of the choices in place come from? Who had made them? What was the reasoning behind them? I truly learned a great deal about KAB and its wants and needs as a non-profit organization, and this information helped me to draw conclusions about which direction to take KAB’s look and feel.
KAB is a storied non-profit focused on tackling our pollution problem, and interestingly enough has some rather large corporations on its board. While saving the environment can be a democratic battle cry, it was important to not make creative decisions that reinforced that stereotype. KAB originally used a bright red and blue logo, then moved away from that to a solid red logo with a distinctly retro feel, into a light green logo used until my work began.
When I was asked to assign a color to each one of the three “pillars” (values) of the company, I did not feel that the light green logo necessarily fit as a primary color compared to the current palatte. I made a case for a deep blue logo and primary color, with three secondary colors used for the values. Remembering that I am not my user, and by truly empathizing with my client’s needs, I was able to rework the palette to include a rich, environmental green. This satisfied the green logo request without using a wishy washy color, which was sending the wrong message for such a storied non-profit. I also upped the saturation of the secondary colors of the palette to continue that message.
Whenever I create solutions for my clients, I want to make sure it works for them. As such, the typography was an interesting study. The brand font did not lend well to choosing a fallback. Neris has a distinct personality, and “have you tried arial?” was not a good enough solution. This decision was made even more difficult by the team using Office 365, which has a small set amount of fonts, and mailchimp, which doesn’t have a great deal of choice either without custom coding for webfonts. Calibri as a fallback was the only option with the right tone and feel.
My favorite aspect of this project was creating an icon library, which had not existed up to this point. I wanted to make sure the choices were scalable, so that another designer could pick up where I left off without compromising the system. It was simple stretch to then create components from the decisions set by icon choices.