Week 17 – Design brief part 1 – Brand guide

I have decided that the first and most important designed outcome for this project will be a brand outline document which will detail the specifics around the project’s brand identity. For this I’ve tasked myself with creating a name, a logo, choosing a typeface, choosing a colour scheme and creating an outline of how each brand element works together. I would also like to create a tagline here or short punchy description of what we are.

In order to start generating a lot of ideas the first thing I did was to employ the help of some local friends who fit into the target demographic of mid-twenties graduates. I plied them with pizza and snacks and we sat down together to spitball a whole bunch of different ideas for names, themes etc. Some of the outcomes are here:

Since my conversation with Jonas prompted me to move away from using the term ‘graduate’ in my title I’ve needed to come up with a different branding direction. There were actually quite a few ideas that were expressed during this workshop that had merit though I thought. Some of my favourites are:

Curiocity – simple, speaks for itself. Nice and open, makes it clear that it’s for the whole city.

Constellations / Galaxy / Nebula theme – lots of individuals making up a bigger whole, interactions between members provide fuel and energy and new life. Really nice theme idea if I can figure out a name that works well, best I have so far is ‘local cluster’ which isn’t amazing.

Mycelial network / roots theme – underground connections, plays on the idea of being secret or hiding in plain sight. Hidden potential etc.

Something irreverent and a bit cheeky – a few ideas were thrown around but we liked the idea that it might be a bit cool & contemporary – perhaps even a bit rude. This would play well with the target audience of younger adults more engaged with memes and colloquialisms

We also discussed imagery and colour theming in our workshop which was similarly very fruitful. We first touched on what kinds of things we all liked about Bristol’s aesthetic and about different brands that aimed themselves towards younger audiences. We all agreed that we really loved the simplicity of brands like extinction rebellion for their chunky graphics and bright colours. Being bright and colourful was generally agreed as a good thing for a project like this with more monotone or limited palette brands feeling more ‘corporate’ and less DIY.

We all liked the bright and fresh graphic style of ER
Branding like this was a real turn off for the group.

As the discussion went on we started to talk about how I might design something that appeals to the target audience. We discussed how it should be DIY and genuine without being simply naive and poorly executed. We started talking about woodcut and linocut design and discussed how this technique had been used by collectives and groups throughout history to spread information about collectives and groups such as the Diggers and the Levellers.

We liked the connection that these simple printing methods had to folk history and to protest art, the style seemed fitting for Bristol which itself has a storied history of protest and anarchism. We agreed that this technique brought just the right amount of handmade aesthetic, if executed correctly it could be the perfect way to signal to our target audience that we ourselves were grassroots and DIY.

We concluded that combining elements of linocut design with bright bold colours was a design direction worth me exploring. We also created a shared moodboard of ideas contributing imagery together via our phones which I put together on the screen:

Colours –

We’d decided that bright colours was a good way to go but I wanted to find a way to tie that back into Bristol and Bristol’s identity. We discussed what different colours might best represent the city – we thought about it’s history, it’s present, landmarks etc. but we couldn’t come up with anything suitable during our workshop.

It was actually the next day as I was walking to my friend’s house in the Hotwells part of the city that an idea struck me – Bristol has become famous over the past few years for it’s bright, colourful rows of houses. In several places throughout the city people have painted their houses different colours. It’s a really lovely, simple idea but it has become an integral part of the city’s identity over the past decade or so. I figured this could be a really nice way to pull part of the branding straight from the character of the city itself.

Ambrose Road – Hotwells
Anglesea Place – Clifton
The Polygon – Hotwells
Redcliffe Parade – Redcliffe

Name decision – CurioCity Collective

After much toing and froing I decided to change the name to CurioCity Collective. The curiocity part was a suggestion from my workshop that I had really enjoyed but at the time couldn’t quite make work in my head. I’ve spent the last few days making notes, scrawling different ideas and combinations of words together but I think this one works the best. I felt it was important to signal what kind of group we were within the name itself. Moving away from Graduates’ Guild was fine & I agree that it was a good decision but I was really happy with how the word Guild did a lot of the heavy lifting in that title.

I tried a bunch of different ideas and ways to incorporate words like guild, collective or union into the title but in the end CurioCity Collective was the best that I’ve been able to arrive at in the time I have. With that in mind I started to pull together different imagery and ideas around the idea of curiosity to try and arrive at some kind of logo and brand imagery:

I actually really liked this picture of a bear looking through the telescope that I found, it was charming and I thought really exemplified visual curiosity. I wondered whether I could extrapolate it out into a design for a linocut, perhaps adding a couple of other animals (other bears or woodland creatures) to signify the ‘collective’.

Making a linocut design

I started with the bear image and crudely added in some other animals using photoshop. I then printed this off and used a piece of acetate to trace the outlines of everything I wanted to carve with a sharpie. From there I used an awl to imprint the design on to a square of lino.

I then used a pencil to draw the design more clearly onto the lino. Next time I’ll just use a marker pen I think, the pencil smudged a lot as I used it.

Eventually I was able to cut out the design, it took longer than expected

The end result turned out much better than I was expecting though I’m not really sure that the design is right for this project. I used the back of a spoon to rub the design onto the paper which worked well and allowed me to make sure all of the design transferred.

Playing around with colour palettes

I wasn’t that happy with the bear but I used it as a stand in for the time being. Using the colours that I had taken from the houses around Bristol I put together a number of different colour palettes.

I also started playing around with other ideas – looking at the windows of the various houses around Bristol which have a lot of variety. Looking to the city itself for inspiration might be a good plan. I mocked a couple up quickly in illustrator but I wasn’t really a fan of how it looked.

I did some more experiments with the bear design but It just served to make me realise that this was a dead end. I tried some more linocutting, designing a wordmark but that didn’t work out either:

I decided to change my direction and instead started looking around Bristol for interesting architectural features. I figured that the diversity of forms could convey a sense of the diversity of people and of thoughts that the group champions. I was particularly interested in finding some of the historic buildings around Bristol that were built by philanthropic businessmen of the past. There are many Almshouses around Bristol as well as several public amenities that were designed and built for the betterment of the people of the city. I like that connection, I think it marries well with the aims of the collective. I started to put together a moodboard:

I spent a couple of hours in google maps and found hundreds of really interesting architectural features from all around the city. I started to use some of them to make sketches and to play around with some ideas of composition:

I had been inspired by a couple of street artworks that I’d seen around Bristol too that used intersecting items on flat planes to build up a composite picture. I figured this would be a great way to build a design that incorporates many different style elements.

I worked iteratively on the design changing parts and adding in different architectural elements until it was cohesive. The typography is just a stand-in at this point but I really like this direction I think it works a lot better than the handcut print stuff. It still incorporates a lot of the bright colours from the houses that I wanted to keep and these kinds of flat patterned designs would work well as prints when it comes to designing flyers and posters.

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