Brands

New In Portfolio: ColourCube Interiors

Mood board for ColourCube Interiors new brand, by Grafika Studio

Mood board for ColourCube Interiors new brand, by Grafika Studio

It's always so exciting to share with you a new brand identity project. The one I'm sharing today was made last month for interior designer super-star Kristie Hill and her fast-growing business ColourCube Interiors.

For her logo concept I played with geometric shapes, such as cubes or hexagons, and the double CC for 'Colour + Cube'. We wanted to achieve a simple and minimal logo to give the brand a contemporary edge, and to make it easy to identify and remember. The logo below made the final cut.

 
 

For her brand we wanted to create a clean but yet visually interesting identity with a lot of focus on textures and a feel of luxury. A concrete background gives the business stationary a textural feel, while touches of rose-gold add that sense of luxury.

The grey and rose palette was completed with a sage green to add an organic feel.

To create some contrast between the straight lines of the mark and the typography we chose a rounded sans serif font family.

Colour-Cube-Brand-specs

An entire set of business stationary is still under development but business cards are already printed and looking amazing! Her website will be online soon and I'll also share the project here in my blog.

ColourCube Interiors business cards with concrete textures and rose-gold foil finish.

ColourCube Interiors business cards with concrete textures and rose-gold foil finish.


Grafika Projects: State 28 rebranding

Client: State 28
Project: Rebranding, Business Stationary, Web Design and Development
Date: Launched in September, 2015
State 28 New Brand and Website designed by Grafika Studio

State 28 New Brand and Website designed by Grafika Studio

State 28 is an interior design company based in Perth, WA, with a strong focus on commercial design and office spaces. I'm very passionate of interior design, and I was thrilled to be chosen as their designer to re-brand their business and build a brand new website.

The new brand was completed in August and the new website launched in September this year. Today I'm sharing a bit of the logo conceptualisation process for this client, as this is a great example of how a simple icon can be full of meaning and significance, becoming the heart and soul of a brand.

 

The concept

I started working with Miriam, State 28 Director, and her team around June this year. Over the first couple of weeks I spent time getting to know the company personality, vision and values, as well as understanding how they wanted to be perceived by their clients and prospects.

They wanted a modern, fun and elegant new brand. My first ideas revolved around vibrant colours and curved lines to reflect the fun side of the company personality. But as many of their clients were corporate organisations I thought we should also look for a minimal and geometric style to connect with that market and communicate professionalism and reliability.

I came up with a few concepts first, no luck (see below). I sketched for hours, did lot and lot of visual research, and came up with a few more concepts. Still no luck.

 

 
 

 

After two rounds of concepts, I went back to their office and met with the team again to get a deeper understanding on the business personality, vision and core values.

In this second meeting I got to know more about each individual behind the scenes of State 28. I learned interesting things about them, like that Miriam had spent many years living in Texas, the State 28, and hereby, the company name.

Back at home, a map of Texas gave me a final clue: why not creating a logo that speaks about that emotional connection with Texas? The company director certainly had a strong connection with this place, and this could be a great concept to play with.

I created a more abstract idea of the map of Texas that had that geometrical and minimal look that I was going for.

They loved the concept! So, did I. Not only it was a meaningful concept for the company owner, but also talked about its origin and history.

 

The brand mood board

To create this mood board I used some images of their recent projects mixed with some bi-dimensional and tri-dimensional patterns, curved and straight lines and contrasts.

The colour scheme has a base of black and white to communicate sophistication. To give the brand a fresh look I added shades of silvery blues and some metallic finishes.

A bright aqua blue achieves a relaxed mood in line with the team personality, breaking the formality of the black and silver blue.

State 28 Interiors brand mood board

State 28 Interiors brand mood board

 

The typography

A sans serif font style was the perfect match for the straight lines of the geometric logo. We love the Epitet family with plenty of styles to choose from (regular, light, bold, ultra-light, italic, etc).

By increasing the tracking (the space between characters) I added a sense of sophistication to the final logo design.

 

 

State 28 team suggested to combine the Epitet family with a hand-writing font (Bad Script) to break the formality of the straight lines. We loved the final result.

 

 

Icons and patterns

The brand identity was completed with a set of outline icons for the website to match the hand-writing font style.

The logo triangles also inspired the patterns for their business stationary, which is currently under development.

To see how this new brand came together online, you can visit their website at www.state28interiors.com.au.


Grafika Projects: Pre-made Brand & Business Stationary Sets

brand-business-stationary-set

This week Grafika Studio is launching a new collection of pre-made brand & stationary sets for small businesses and new start-ups. It’s what I’ve called prêt-à-porter  - or ready-to-wear - design.

Let’s imagine that you are getting married and are looking for wedding dresses. You have two options: one, get a bespoke wedding dress completely tailored to you, or two, get a prêt-à-porter design and make small alterations to fit your body shape and height.

Although, a bespoke design is probably the dream of many brides, it’s also a much more expensive option than the ready-to-wear design.

In the graphic and web design industry, a bespoke brand design requires many hours of research, conceptualisation and design, as well as many revisions and changes by the client. It’s the result of a long implementation process and a close collaboration between client and designer. It isn’t often an affordable solution for small businesses with limited budgets.

Another limitation is that in the early stages a new business doesn’t usually have a mature brand aesthetic, which makes it difficult to translate into a visual language.

As Grafika Studio was born with the vision of helping small businesses and new start-ups build professional brand systems, and aware of their budget restrains, I designed this solution that allows my clients to build sleek and professional brand systems with a minimum investment.

 

Benefits of pre-designed brand systems

Although a pre-made brand may not be an ideal solution for a business with a few years of experience in their market and a clear business personality, they can be an excellent solution for many start-ups, and here are some reasons:

  • Personalised design – Every set, though pre-made, is customised with the client’s business name and contact information, as well as colour scheme and fonts, making it more unique.
  • Cohesive brand - Each element has been designed to work as one cohesive piece, to create a strong brand presence and identity at the fraction of the cost of a full brand design.
  • Limited availability – every brand and stationary set will only be sold a maximum of 5 times.
  • Quick turnaround - customisations are done within 2 business days. After that, my clients get a complete professional brand and stationary set to get your business started in a simple and stress-free design process.
  • Full control of your brand – Once the customisation has been done, clients receive the editable files for future changes or brand extensions.
brand-business-stationary-set

The pre-designed business stationary set above is the first design of my collection still in progress. It includes all the essential items that any small business may need to get started: logo, business cards, letterheads, envelope seals, with compliment slips, thank you cards and notepads.

This set is now available at my shop! Visit its listing here for further information and purchases.


Designing An Effective Logo

A logo always seems like an easy thing to do for any designer. However, although a good logo may be simple in its construction, it’s not in it's concept. Behind every professional logo there are many hours of research, sketching and testing. Understanding the process behind a logo design can help small business owners to know:

  • what makes a good logo and what doesn’t
  • what to expect from your designer when they design a logo for your business

I’ve been recently working on a logo design for a new business in Perth, WA Mortgage Advice (website coming soon) and I thought this work could be a perfect opportunity to take you through my logo design process.

My logo design process has five stages:

1.    Discovery

The first step of any design work is getting as much information as possible about the client’s business. This information can be obtained through a conversation with the client, through a design brief questionnaire and by researching their market.

By way of example, my latest client is a mortgage broking business, a completely unfamiliar professional field for me. Learning as much as possible about my client’s business was my first mission. To do this I first held a one-to-one meeting with my client.

During the meeting I gave my client a list of descriptive words to select the three that best describe the business personality and core values. My client used words like trust, knowledge and honesty that would give me some clues of what design elements I should consider to visually describe this business.

I get the information I need from a few carefully crafted questions in my design brief questionnaire. This questionnaire helps structure my meetings and formalise the information gathered in a document. When I cannot meet the client face-to-face, I send the questionnaire by email. I could skip the meeting if necessary, but I cannot skip the design brief questionnaire.

A good brief cannot just rely on the information obtained from the client; you also need to research their market. This is always a good chance for me to do visual research, reviewing logo designs of my client’s competitors and seeing how their brands look.  
 

2.    Sketching

During this phase I sketch dozens and dozens of logos. I start conceptualising the business in a few simple ideas, then I play with the business name or the acronyms, and mix ideas and concepts with letters and shapes.

logo-sketching

When someone talks about “mortgage broking” you immediately think of homes, banks, and approval processes. But my client highlighted ideas like offering guidance and giving clarity, security and confidence to people to make lifetime decisions. Listening and understanding clients to give this advice was one of the core values of this business, what gave me the idea of using speech bubbles in one of my logo designs.

 

3.    Designing

After a few hours sketching concepts, I eventually picked the three best concepts that I came up with and drew them in Illustrator. Why only three concepts after sketching dozens of them? Because something I learned about clients is that the more ideas you present the more difficult is for them to make decisions.

At this stage I don’t add colours or anything else just yet. I present the logos to the client in black and white to focus on the concept rather than on the style.

Here are the three concepts presented to this particular client:


4.    Polishing

This is my favourite part: the client picked the concept, so now I could go back to Illustrator and refine my logo design. I measured every distance; made every size proportional and every angle identical.

wa-mortgage-advice-logo.jpg


5.    Development

Now that the logo is finalised I can complete the entire visual identity with colours, fonts, logo variations, etc. To do these final selections I can go back to my design brief and use the descriptors that the client gave me.

wa-mortgage-advice-logo-variations.png


For WA Mortgage Advice I picked a light orange as the primary colour. The client highlighted the importance to communicate a very genuine intention of helping people in the best professional way. According to studies on the emotional meaning of colours, orange is the most suitable colour to communicate friendliness and client care. Orange also would give the brand a modern, young and energetic edge.

 

 
wa-mortgage-advice-logo.jpg
 

During the development phase it's important to test the logo in different media. To do this I create a few mock-ups of business stationary, advertising or other marketing materials that the client may produce in the future. This way I can see how the logo will look and whether it's necessary to make any final changes.

wa-mortgage-advice-business-cards.jpg

The objective of my design process is to ensure my logos always meet the five principles of any logo design: simplicity, memorability, versatility, timelessness and appropriation.

Now, that you know the different steps involve in a professional logo design and what makes an effective logo, you can put your own logo under test.

 

Is your logo right for your business?

1. Is your logo simple?

Good logos are uncomplicated. The more detail a logo has, the more information the viewer has to process and retain. Simplicity will make a logo easy to recognise and to remember.

As explained in stage 3 (Sketching) I design my logos just with a pencil first, in black and white, to ensure effectiveness in its simplest form. Colour should be left to the end of the design process.

2. Is your logo memorable?

A good logo is easy to describe. What's difficult to describe, is also difficult to remember. Recognition brings familiarity, which assists in building trust and loyalty in your brand.

3. Is your logo versatile?

As I mentioned in stage 5 (Development) a well-design logo will translate well across different mediums. When printed in small sizes, a complex design will lose detail, making it harder to recognise. A good logo must be simple in order to reproduce well on small scales, such as favicons.

For this reason, logos should be always designed in vector format, that is Adobe Illustrator, never Photoshop.

4. Is your logo timeless?

An effective logo should endure the test of time. A good logo designer doesn’t follow any design trend. Trends come and go and ultimately turn into cliches.

5. Is your logo appropriate?

A good logo design will be relevant to your industry, clientele and target market. Even though your logo doesn’t have to describe what your company does, it has to reflect your business essence and values (as I illustrated in stage 3, Sketching).  


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Five Simple Tips To Build A Unique Brand

Your brand is the soul of your business. It's what identifies and differentiates your business from others. It's what makes you unique and special. Branding a business is not just about creating a logo, it's about creating perceptions in people's minds and love in customer's hearts.

A brand is represented by the branding, that is, all those visual elements that allow people to identify a product or a company. This can include the logo, colour scheme, typeface and other elements, and can be formalised in a document called style guide. Below is an example of my style guide.

Grafika-Studio-Style-guide.jpg

It's difficult to describe the entire process to build a brand. It starts with soul searching: find your strengths, your passions your vision and your personal style. Then set a sole goal: to get paid for doing what you love. And finally come up with a step-by-step plan to make it real. Start small but dream big.

Here are my five tips to build a unique, memorable, and timeless brand that reflects your style and represents you and your business for years to come:

 

1. Find Your Own Unique Brand Style

There are no two identical businesses, so you must explore and find what makes you different. Understanding your own distinctness is the first step to build memorable brands. Once you find it, write down your brand statement, that is a short sentence that states your uniqueness.

I found my own distinctness in the concepts of beauty, simplicity and style. They define what I do and how I do it, and I have summarised this in my brand statement: beautiful brands, stylist websites.

 

2. Deliver a Consistent Message

Letterheads, invoices, business cards, everything talks about you and the way in which you deliver your work. It's important that all your brand elements are well-coordinated across every channel and that message is clear and consistent. The style guide helps you achieve that consistency.

 

3. Build Brand Name Recognition

People must know who you are and what you stand for before becoming customers. Just delivering a consistent message won't be enough, make sure everyone "gets it". In a world that’s overloaded with information, only creative, unique and special brands can stand out and be easily recognised and remembered.

 

4. Invest In Brand Quality

Quality is a reflection of your business personality and how much you care about every project, every product and every client. Make sure your brand also reflexes your quality standards. Invest in professional photos, print in high-quality paper and proofread everything that you write, even if it's on your blog or social media pages. 

 

5. Communicate your brand and brand your communications

Take your brand online and communicate with your people, ask and answer questions, and participate in conversations that help you build the emotional connection with everyone in your market