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On 04, Feb 2014 | In | By Matthew


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CREATIVE CHALLENGE: How does a designer retain elements of a client’s much-loved design when it contains flaws and technical problems? What’s necessary to create an engaging branding system when an organization’s culture has an emotional attachment to something that’s not working?

As I began work with enFocus, a team of recent graduates serving as consultants, I wrestled with these questions. I sought to create a visual identity that was as professional, sharp and sophisticated as enFocus’s young entrepreneurs.

THE CLIENT: Founded in 2012, enFocus is a South Bend-based non-profit that brings together recent graduates with organizations in need of fresh energy, innovative solutions, and creative collaboration. In 2013 they were awarded a $3-million grant from Lilly Endowment.

THE ASSIGNMENT: EnFocus wasn’t necessarily seeking a new visual identity when I was asked to design new recruitment and promotional media: brochures, banners, and a tablecloth. The use of cells in the EnFocus brandmark inspired its fellows. The growth of a living organism symbolized the expansion of the nonprofit’s entrepreneurial spirit. Yet I successfully made a case for re-envisioning the existing identity.

DESIGN OBSTACLES: What enFocus members saw as cells in their brandmark resembled beehives to the uninitiated. Nobody knew how to read it. There also were significant illegibility problems – thin lines or a yellow that caused the logotype to fade; a rasterized brandmark lacking scalability of a vector brandmark and preventing its use on embroidered shirts or promotional banners. We needed images of the client’s work in progress. I faced the challenge of how to make their core work while making it more visually enticing.

CREATIVE RESULT: I maintained a hexagon shape, but offset it as two pieces coming together to evoke a handshake and a lowercase e. The new brandmark and logotype demonstrated a left-to-right movement, communicating progress. I chose three warm colors from a more refined Pantone palette: gray (corporate, serious and strong), green (organic growth, an idea, ingenuity) and a golden yellow that carried over from their previous identity. I worked with a photographer for photos with a classy, sophisticated vibe: bright colors, high-contrast images, blurred backgrounds and space for text. I designed the materials so when placed on a table; they formed a hexagon. Rather than just putting printed materials on a table, they could display them in a fun way. I’m a big advocate of every aspect of design.