When you have an opportunity to start building a brand from scratch, it is a great pleasure and challenge at the same time. This is how I felt when The Emerson Suite hired me to develop their brand strategy and visual communications.
The Emerson Suite is a tech product company which addresses needs of the business coaching industry, translating a traditional management methodology into a modern mobile client management system.
For the overall brand strategy, I decided to turn the traditional management methodology’s core elements into pillars of the future brand architecture.
Following that idea, the four coaching areas – Job, Situation, Behaviour, and Change, with the respective tools to tackle them – were given a particular visual character: I graphically represented them in a Table of Effectiveness. Reminiscent of the periodic table of chemical elements, this conveys images of research and science supporting this proven coaching methodology.
In terms of visual appearance and messaging, I wanted to stick to a clean and minimal style, so I decided to use plain black and white backgrounds, along with ‘techy’ product screenshots and bright stock images of people. This direction needed a little bit of softening, however, making technology friendlier and more human. To achieve this, I created a quirky illustrated character as a playful story teller to be used in situations where fun elements can help engage users.
This serious yet playful approach started to yield results. Consumers began to notice the brand and see it as slick and trustworthy.
The old logo’s colour coding did not work with the new branding concept and was difficult to apply across different media. I initiated a logo refresh, reducing the symbol’s colour palette to four.
Leadership: A fresh take on an old plot
Sales and marketing collateral
The nice people from Inkubator hired me to help them refresh the layout of Vice Magazine.
After almost 20 years, Vice Magazine's success and worldwide popularity had outgrown its initial idea. The same could be said for its design layout. Metaphorically speaking, a young rebel had become an established adult, and the old clothes didn’t quite fit anymore.
The goal of the refresh was to come up with a concept that would visually unify the eclectic content of the magazine, keep Vice's characteristically blunt visual style, and make it accessible to young readers steeped in the new “byte”-sized reality of consuming information.
Concept: Loud & Quiet
We quickly realized that the magazine's diverse content needed its proper visual counterpart. As the one of the editors summed it up: “The new layout should be like a Pixies song – with its loud and quiet moments.” Loud moments should wow users with their “fast and furious” content, and quiet ones should give them rest to allow for the deep reading that is needed for longer stories. To achieve that, we decided to focus on two aspects: the conceptual (content vs. form) and the utilitarian (paper vs. screen reading).
We embraced the idea that form follows function. In other words, we tried to design a layout that reflects the content of the story and even tells it before it is read.
For example, the article about the scarcity of meat in Cuba (“Red Gold,” see picture) is introduced by a “loud” moment (the Cuban flag made out of meat) that works like a teaser, announcing the story about a place where meat is still considered as precious as gold.
According to neuroscience, we use different parts of our brain when reading from a piece of paper as opposed to a screen. Millennials, the magazine's core audience, are a screen-focused generation of readers. To accommodate their reading habits within our overall concept, we offered small graphic tidbits (ubiquitous in a UI environment) to communicate information and to increase their appetite for longer stories. An example of such eye candy is the nose infographic in the story about Iran’s booming cosmetic surgery industry (see picture).
Editorial Design, Typography
Client: Vice Magazine Credits: inkubator.ca
Over the last few years Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine) has been losing its architectural style due to the vigorous growth of outdoor advertising. While the government remained inactive, the city community, especially small business representatives, established a public initiative to solve the problem. They set a task to create a brand-new city style and to develop a style guide for regulating outdoor advertisements in Ivano-Frankivsk.
With a rich and dynamic history, Ivano-Frankivsk lacked the identity that could epitomize more than 300 years of a city — conquered, settled, and ruled by different nations and empires.
What do the Polish rulers, the Austrian empire, and Soviet authorities have in common?
Gustave Flaubert said that writing history is like drinking an ocean and pissing a cupful. This could also be said for designing a city’s visual identity.
After weeks of research, I discovered one firm witness, a Ukrainian peasant. Simple, humble and hardworking, he was there to defend the city, or to repair the ruins. A single embroidery stitch from his traditional shirt became a visually striking and easily adjustable emblem which was combined with the architectural fundamentals of the city hall called Ratusha — the most prominent urban mark, both visually and metaphorically.
To enrich the visual identity, I created 4 patterns representing: Rich History, Breathtaking Nature, Bold Ethnographic Heritage, and Contemporary Art and Literature. These four themes emerged among many others as distinctive storytellers. In the form of embroidery, made of the Ratusha stitch, and with clear symbols, they are telling the story of IF.
The visual identity for the city of Ivano-Frankivsk was recognized at Cannes Lions as one of the top five large scale logo projects in the world for its exceptional creativity (2014 Design Lions Award Finalist).
Art & Science Digital Experience Design is a team of creative technologists who don’t see art and science as two separate things. Brand concept is based on a memorable symbol and bold illustrations of the company rules.
Art Direction, Icon Design, Identity Design, Illustration, UX/UI
Client: Art & Science Credits: artscience.ca, Nicolas Girard
Agency Promo Video
Selected Identity Design
1. Zendo Identity (2013). Supplier of endodontic instruments and dental materials.
2. Design in Three Dimensions Identity (2012). D3D is a Toronto-based consultancy working with museums and arts institutions on strategy, engagement and foresight issues.
3. Aneta Guzina Identity (2011). New York City-based freelance architect.
4. What The F…est Identity (2012). Toronto-based online video festival.
The Juice Agency
Dynamic Brand Identity Solution
The Juice Agency evolved from a design shop with a seven year history of creating award-winning work for some of Canada’s leading advertising and marketing agencies. In 2011, Partners made the bold move to rebrand and become a direct-to-client agency, with the belief that the Juice could plan and execute digital marketing better, cheaper and more transparently.
The TJA core brand pillar is constant evolution and change. That believe led to an idea of dynamic, changing one identity; a core shape that could serve as container for different layers of meaning. After exploring several promising options, became obvious that the simple, organic droplet is the shape. It spoke to the brand story better than anything else, and held the potential for a larger identity system.
Recognizing that the logo needs something clean and rigid to lend stability and maturity to the ever-changing, colourful variations of the droplet, the DIN typeface became a logical choice with its neat, technical appearance. However, it was necessary to eventually alter DIN’s “J” in order to improve its relationship with the curve of the droplet. This flipped “J” is also a nod to the innovative solutions company strive to bring to business problems.
Dynamic branding made a lot of exposure for The Juice Agency, it has been featured in numerous books, including Los Logos Volume 6 (Gestalten), Dynamic Identities (BIS Publishers), Dynamic Logo (Dopress), and Creative Business Cards (Send Points). You can also find it featured online at sites like Identity Designed.
The business cards provide a good example of the flexible, dynamic identity. The eight selected iterations for the cards are the reflections of the agency's personality. For example, the “strategic” dart, the “social” bee and the “energetic” hummingbird.
In its first year of operations, Windrose Aviation became a recognized brand that has made a name for itself. The new identity had to capture unique experience of the company's core services. Exploring the concept of discovery, the motif represents wings and tails emerging from a wind rose symbol.
Kievbass is a monthly cultural event bringing the world's best underground DJs to Ukraine. The project became a cult clubbing event, gathering an army of fans, and even spreading to parties organized in other Ukrainian cities.
Jeans was the first youth mobile brand in Ukraine. But, in just a few years everything has changed. Strong players appeared on the mobile market. Their aggressive campaigns and fresh look shook the position of Jeans.
The task was to bring back the lost bloom, in other words – to rejuvenate the teenager.
Solution was to flirt with fashion and bright dynamic images of youth subcultures.