THE BACK STORY
This brand design project started out simple enough. Heather Hanson reached out to us needing a sign design for her new space. A local architect had referred her to us knowing that sign design and environmental graphics were core specialties of ours. Her business Embrace the Space Between is a training center, creative studio and shopping experience focused on empowering women to reclaim their power and undergo a life reclamation.
Coming from a corporate marketing background, she had an existing set of self-designed logo marks and a decent start to a brand design. The more we talked the more we uncovered we could help her really elevate her brand design. We discovered a need for better-designed logo marks, greater clarity of language, style guide, custom icons, and experience design for her physical space as well as swag. So we arrived at a retainer arrangement to help with all of that over the course of several months.
We used an online tool called Miro for collaborative brainstorming as we worked through brand DNA, mission and values, brand avatar, client personas, and customer journey. Her service combines coursework for women to discover liberation through an intuitive combination of artistic practice and coaching. As we dug into her course framework we developed a visual metaphor. This was a scene of stepping out of her door onto a path that leads through the wilderness to a mountain top and up into an upper room of a temple. This was key to guiding the visual aspects of the brand design.
RESEARCHING THE MOOD
Based on the results of our discovery consultations we researched the core words, values, and feelings of the brand to develop this mood board. This combined internal banding, core to the client’s ethos, and also market research on her ideal client and what resonates with her. This step serves to set an agreed-upon mood we aim to evoke with the branding. Threading the needle between elegance and playfulness was key. We focused on elements of earth, pathways and portals, elegance, and feminine energy combined with geometry and texture. It’s important to note this step of creating a moodboard is simply collecting imagery, texture and color for inspiration only. These images are owned by others and are not a part of our final design work.
DESIGNING THE LOGO MARKS
When the client came to us she had an existing logo mark she hand made and wanted a typographical sign to go above the entrance to her new retail studio space in the freshly built Radview building in the River Arts District of Asheville.
We felt it was hard to recognize that it was the profile of a woman in dance. In discussing the source of it we realized that part of her offering is a practice called Soulcollage®. The original logo she had made by cutting it out of paper. This led to us turning to the Matisse cutouts of women dancing as a source of inspiration for a new logo mark that could be more readily identifiable as an empowered woman in a playful stance. Just for fun, we called her the dancing queen.
The new logo system we designed includes options to fit a variety of formats.
THE ICON DESIGNS
The client had used icons she found for free online. The problem with using free tock icons found online is that they will also be used by hundreds of other businesses which can lead to confusion in the minds of your audience and a lack of unique identity designed for your unique business. As we worked through the brand development we knew we wanted to provide new icons. These needed to be more consistent, fitting to the new logo style, and intentionally created to fit each step. We initially made rough sketches of some ideas on paper and drafted up various possible ideas with the client. Through a process of back and forth, between each other and the client, we refined them into the final ideas and designs. Some are shown here. The simple crown icon was one that we kept from her original branding and incorporated into the logo mark of the dancing queen. In this way we sought to honor the origins of the brand while evolving and refining it forward.
COURSE 01: WAKING
COURSE 04: DISCOVERING
THE BRAND DESIGN
Together we developed a full style guide, a few pages of it are shown here. We designed various print pieces including a tri-fold brochure and business cards. We created patterned tissue paper and a rubber stamp design for her to decorate her paper bags. We made branded tote bags for her pre-packaged kits of supplies, price tags, and stickers. Since we are also set up as distributors of branded merchandise through our Connection Kits service we were able to be her single source for much of the printed materials like busines cards and brochures and imprinted items like the tote bags.
THE SPACE DESIGN
We also helped with the environmental design of the interior space as well as the exterior signage. We used Sketch-up to create a 3D model of her space to help visualize what furniture to get and how it all fit as well as placement of wall graphics, shelving, and signage.
We also facilitated determining what would be allowable from a permitting aspect on exterior signage first to ensure we designed something that would be approved by both landlord and Asheville City. We also helped manage the procurement of all signs, printing, and contracting electricians to run power.
THE STORE BRAND DESIGN
We provided a full sign and environmental design package. The exterior sign is an internally illuminated channel letter sign designed and engineered to mount to the canopy with connections to the back wall. John drew upon his 25 years of professional sign design and fabrication knowledge to work this through with the architect, city, sign company, and landlord.
Inside we designed an interior illuminated impact logo sign combined with a faux neon sign for behind the counter. We assisted in selecting the furniture and designed a cover to mount to the front of the counter as well. We also incorporated some of the client’s photography into large wall graphics and addressed several point of sale signs.
We also created and etched vinyl graphic piece on an interior glass door to provide some privacy while allowing light through and creating interest. We partnered with Signarama of Asheville to produce and install the signs. The client updated the website herself in WIX while we provided assets and guidance.
We also helped bring in Amplified Media to produce this video for our client and provided some light direction for them to get creative with. At the end our engagement we also set up a brand kit in Canva so she could continue to generate assets on her own as needed.