Introducing Hue•ti•ful: a color-centric series


 
 

Welcome to a new series we're calling hue•ti•ful. In these posts we aim to share how we use color in our design work, show how you can best use it for your business, and share some great color inspiration!

In our first hue•ti•ful post, we've taken one of Maggie's favorite inspiration images and created a palette from it.

Finding inspiration images is the easy (and fun) part. Why do so many designers and artists use photographs to find a color palette? With so many hues, tints, and shades visible to the human eye (depending on who you talk to, humans can identify 2-10 million different colors!) picking colors out of thin air can be a challenge. So why not use an image that you are drawn to as a starting point? The palette we've created is not the only one you could draw from this inspiration image, but we especially like the combination of pink, orange, and cobalt blue.

In upcoming posts we'll show you how to take these palettes and translate them into usable color plans for your brand.

 

We the Postcard


 

Political activism is something we have done on our own time, but not as a company. Until recently. Inspired by current events and reacting to many in our communities who feel unheard and worried, we launched We the Postcard. The idea behind the project was simple — we were making calls and writing letters to our elected representatives but needed an easier way to dash off quick notes of concern and thanks. Postcards were the obvious answer. Since the desire to have an active voice in our government comes from a strong sense of patriotism, the design direction and color palette developed naturally. The quotes we chose to highlight speak to us and celebrate America, human rights, and civic responsibility.

We knew others would be glad to have a stack of postcards at the ready and decided to take it one step further by donating 50% of the proceeds. We couldn't pick just one organization, so we chose three: the National Endowment for the Arts, the ACLU, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Our passion for this project is obvious when you know that it took us only ten days from the initial idea to launching 10 unique designs in a brand new online shop. We are very proud of this project and very excited to see people sending postcards as gifts to patriotic friends and family; using our postcards at letter-writing parties; and tacking them up above desks as inspiration. The mood in many communities has spawned various projects with similar missions and we're so glad to see that happening. There are art auctions, tote bags, more postcards, and T-shirt sales supporting stellar organizations. We encourage you, if you can, to use your wallet to support as many of these projects as possible. If not your wallet, then your time, your voice, and your energy. 

Finally, we want to very sincerely thank all of you who have supported We the Postcard with purchases and by sharing on social media. We appreciate it so much and encourage all of you to continue your civic involvement. Write on!

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Curious & Co. Makeover: Behind the Scenes


 
 

Our business has evolved a lot since we first launched in 2010, and we recently felt it was time to reevaluate our branding — for how it represents us and how it appeals to our target clients. Our original logo served us well for over six years, but after quite a bit of growth and honing our expertise, the time felt right for something fresh.

To keep ourselves on track, we started as we do with all branding clients: the Discovery process. That's when we ask some thought-provoking questions about a client's target audience, competitors, business aspirations, and more to guide us throughout the design process. The three of us answered individually, and while our responses weren't identical, they overlapped in all the right places, meaning we're all still on the same page with our business (whew!)

Armed with information and inspiration, we dove in to some initial design concepts. As we often do, we individually came up with a few sketches to set the wheels in motion.

Curious & Co. rebrand design concepts

We worked collaboratively to zero in on our favorite — then came the time to refine, refine, refine. It turns out that we were feeling pretty attached to the cog in our original logo, so it remained a central design element in this next phase. We also began incorporating color, which we settled on fairly early in the process (before the design was finalized). 

Curious & Co. rebrand design concepts

After creating several iterations of our favorite concept — and shifting gears (pun intended) a bit — we landed on a polished combination of typefaces and our beloved cog, as well as a vibrant color palette anchored by a rich off-black (that's designer-speak for dark grey). Of course, a flexible branding system is not complete without interesting secondary/alternate marks, so we created those adaptations to round out our new brand.

Curious & Co. rebrand design

We are so pleased with our new look and feel that it represents the business we have now, after six years of growth, experience, and a roster of excellent clients. 

Coming up soon: a closer look at the process (and platform) behind our shiny new website!

 

Curious Portfolio Spotlight: Hollow & Ridge


 
 

People often ask us how our identity design process works — where do our logo ideas come from and how do our sketches evolve to become that final mark? While each client is unique and no two processes are exactly alike, we do have in place a reliable (and ever-evolving) system that carries us from concept through to completion. To give a little insight into how it’s done, here’s a sneak peek into how we created the identity for Hollow & Ridge, an essential oil fragrance company based in the Main Line area of Philadelphia.

After meeting with Issa, the owner of Hollow & Ridge, to discuss her needs and vision for the company, she then completed a discovery document for us. Our discovery document asks a lot of questions, such as, “What are some adjectives that describe your brand (or what you would like your brand to be)?” and, “Who is your target customer? Describe him or her, including age, aspirations, and interests.” This allows our clients to really pinpoint their place in their respective market, and it helps us immensely to understand what the client needs as we begin the design process.

We find that our strongest work comes from collaboration. It’s not uncommon for all three of us to work on concepts and pass them back and forth to refine and perfect. Each of us finds different inspiration in our clients’ discovery responses, which only improves our concept exploration process. We then narrow down our favorites to share with the client. Below are the concepts that we initially presented to Issa.

We like to show our initial design concepts in grayscale so clients aren’t distracted by color before evaluating the strength of each individual concept. Once we do introduce color palettes, we like to share the different ways those colors can be used and what we’d suggest as primary colors.

Issa chose her favorite design — the hand-drawn type solution that we think is a perfect representation of Hollow & Ridge and its rustic roots, inspired by Issa’s upbringing on a farm in West Virginia. In the subsequent proof rounds, we made revisions to both the design and the color palette, while also creating secondary marks for the Hollow & Ridge identity.

After the logo and color palette were finalized, we moved on to creating bottle designs for Hollow & Ridge’s essential oils. Issa chose darker colored bottles which reminded her of hazy beach glass. While much of our work is done on a computer, when it comes to creating a piece which will be seen on a shelf and held in your hand, it’s very important to see it and handle it. That’s when good old fashioned paper, scissors, and tape come into play. The mock-ups may not be pretty, but they’re essential in finalizing type sizes, spacing, and seal measurements. The final design was screen printed on the bottles in white ink and we also created sticker seals that are individually inscribed with the batch numbers.

This is one of our favorite projects — but really, we say that about every project! It’s so amazing to be part of the evolution of a brand, and we really love the process. Working to put all the pieces together to form one cohesive identity is truly rewarding and seeing our clients’ businesses flourish is the icing on top.

photos courtesy of Trevor Dixon

 

Why Work with a Professional Designer? | Waffatopia Case Study


 
 

We get it: deciding to work with a graphic design team (and choosing the right team) is a big commitment. It can be a big investment and, particularly if you’re just starting your business (or only a few years in), a scary one. Many people decide to cut corners and go the DIY route when it comes to their brand identity — anyone can design a basic logo, can’t they? And a great product should speak for itself, right? More often than not, that’s unfortunately not the case. We live in a world where new businesses pop up every day, and the ones that really stand out from the crowd are typically those that will thrive and find the most success. A polished and professional brand identity can make all the difference and set you up for huge success; a poorly executed identity can set you up for failure, no matter how amazing your product or service may be.

A great example of a company that went all in is Waffatopia, an artisan food brand that makes delicious caramelized waffles reminiscent of authentic LiegeBelgian waffles. They are sold both online in the continental US and at farmers markets in the Philadelphia area. In mid-2012, we met with owners Brian and Andrea Polizzi to discuss what kind of company they hoped to be, the overall voice and tone they wanted their brand identity to have, and the kind of product they planned to sell — all before they ever sold a single waffle. They wanted to hit the ground running from the first day they introduced Waffatopia to the world and knew that working with a professional design team would help them do that.

Brian and Andrea had an incredibly firm grasp on their product and were starting to develop their fun and boisterous company voice, but they did not yet have a solid visual to back it up or the design skills to bring one to life. They had created a simple mark on their own for the purpose of putting together their business plan, but it was just that: simple, and lacking a bold personality. The color palette was not extremely unique or unusual for a waffle company, and it felt a little dated. Brian and Andrea agreed that they needed something more representative of Waffatopia’s mission, product and personality, and we set off to create just that.

The result: a playful mark in a bold color palette that represents the savory and sweet waffle flavors that Waffatopia offers. The playful typography has personality, and is still legible from a distance — a very important characteristic when being sold at farmers markets. We developed secondary marks that complement the main mark, selected typefaces to best work with their identity, and then developed affordable solutions for packaging and printed materials to accommodate their startup budget (while still making a bold statement).

We initially created a simple website that reflected the Waffatopia brand identity for their launch at the beginning of 2013, and tackled phase two — a more robust e-commerce site — later in the year, after they had been working the farmers market and special event circuit for several months. Waffatopia’s responsive online storefront launched in November 2014, just in time for holiday ordering, and the orders came pouring in almost immediately. In the weeks leading up to Christmas they were at full capacity in their commercial kitchen space based on the volume of orders they were receiving. Their polished visual identity helped them to get noticed, helped to build a strong and devoted social media following, and piqued peoples’ interest in their amazing product before they even had a taste. (The fact that the waffles are amazing keeps the momentum going long after that important first impression is made!)

The greatest compliment they (and we) could ever receive is when Brian and Andrea are asked on countless occasions, “Is Waffatopia a franchise?” after someone has seen their sleek business card or stumbled upon their impressive farmers market display and packaging. It speaks volumes about the importance of design in driving success and taking a small startup to the level of an established brand. We don’t like to brag, but really, we can’t help it: they have told us numerous times that they simply would never have seen this kind of success without the strong visual identity we created for them, and we could not be more proud to have played a role in their amazing first year of business.

Learn more about this project in our portfolio and buy some delicious waffles at Waffatopia.com; packaging photo by Alison Conklin