In 2018, I embark on a new creative journey. Towards the end of 2017, I decided I wanted to produce more video content on a consistent basis. I began working on a new video series to premiere in 2018 called “Run The Layers”. Run The Layers is a show created because I thought it was a cool name and I love Adobe Illustrator (+ the entire Adobe Creative Cloud) and making logos. The purpose behind the show is to take the viewer on a journey on how designs are created. I want to break down all the layers, figurative and literal, within pieces of graphic design.
Different markets call for different types and styles of logo. The logo’s personality should reflect the brand’s personality. The application of the research and the conversations will result in a design that works for that particular brand and its goals. It would be a mistake for me to design as if I was a robot producing generic brand identities. Each of us humans have unique personalities. It’s the same for brands. We should create distinct designs.
The Everyone And Their Brother logo design was a labor of love and the result of a fun journey amongst friends. Everyone And Their Brother is a new comedy podcast where four friends invite listeners to share in their “conversations around a family dinner table” experience. My friend TJ and I were invited by our friend and pro podcaster William to join him and his brother on a new podcast, a new adventure.
So, being the graphic designer of the group, I already had ideas in my head for the branding for our podcast.
The central idea surrounds the ampersand. In Adobe Illustrator, I made an ampersand using two simple circles. I made a cut in the bottom circle, with my BFF “Divide Objects Below”. The ampersand represents the “and” in the name as well as the collaborative effort of the project. The podcast is built so that, as long as there are multiple hosts available, an episode can be recorded. We also plan on inviting guests to join the party.
The Four Circles (Head And Shoulders)
On the inside of the homemade ampersand, you’ll find four circles and shoulder shapes. This obviously represents the four founders of the podcast. Each of us bring something special to the table and I wanted that represented. However the podcast evolves, I want the logo to reflect its origin.
This shape represents us speaking and broadcasting through the podcast. It is as if we are shouting through the ampersand. We are giving the world our opinions on many things. Sweet, precious opinions being recorded and made available to the masses.
Final Results & Variations
I made the logo shape in black and white first, as I always do. Then I applied color to it after the shape was approved. I chose the colors blue and white with a classic touch of gold. The colors were chosen on purpose. It refers to Kappa Kappa Psi, a fraternity in which all four of us are members. After finalizing the logo, I made graphics to serve as our avatar on iTunes and other podcast outlets as well as social media. I also formatted the logo and text for our cover photo for our Twitter and Facebook pages.
This logo was fun to come up with and the podcast has been a blast to be a part of.
You should listen sometime…like now: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/everyone-and-their-brother/id1290583950?mt=2
A friend of mine suggested I try out Doctor Who. Doctor Who is a British science-fiction show about the adventures of a Time Lord simply known as “The Doctor”. He explores the universe in his time-traveling ship, the TARDIS. It is a very interesting program to say the least. The two test episodes I was shown by my friend were “The Eleventh Hour” from Series 5 (seasons = series, across the pond) and “Blink” from Series 3. I thoroughly enjoyed both and instantly became interested in learning more about the Doctor Who universe. I considered being lazy and just continuing from Series 5. However, I decided to go back to Series 1 Doctor Who and experience the entire revival series from the beginning.
(Sorry to all super die-hard Whovians that think I should start at the very, very beginning. I don’t have time to go back to the 1963-1989 series and catch all the way up.)
While currently in Series 4, I had an idea to design some logo style graphics in tribute to this outstanding program of which I am a new fan. There may be – probably will be – spoilers so proceed with caution. (The show’s been out for 10 series starting in 2005 so…there’s that.)
Series 1 – 3
The initial idea was to just make a graphic for each series as I completed them. But you’ll see as you read further that it expanded a bit beyond that. With this part of the “Whovian Bobbie” design series, I wanted to capture some of the important elements of each series/season. A somewhat minimalistic representation of the series itself.
In the Series 1 graphic, I included original interpretations of the sonic screwdriver (one on each side), Daleks, and the TARDIS itself (on top). I was going for a crest of sorts then it took a life of its own.
In the Series 2 graphic, I highlighted one of my favorite interactions – Cybermen vs. Daleks at Canary Wharf. The two hearts below represent the two hearts of The Doctor. They are half filled to represent the event towards the end of Doomsday.
In the Series 3 graphic, you see my interpretation of one of the posters for the election of Harold Saxon, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. “Vote Saxon” was seen throughout the show in various places. The meaning behind it was revealed towards the end of Series 3. The circular objects in the Os as well as the middle of the poster refer to the Toclafane, seen in the two-part finale of Series 3. At the bottom, you see two dueling screwdrivers (which may or may not both be sonic)…for…reasons.
Characters / Races Thus Far
Since I had to create concepts of both for Series 1 and 2, I decided to make separate images for the Cybermen and the Daleks. Taking what I considered essential features of both, I crafted logos representing the legendary icons.
Here’s a video of how I designed the Cybermen logo.
Going forward, I am going to be designing my logo-ish tributes to various characters from the show and I will be designing graphics for each series as I finish watching them. Be following at instagram.com/creativebobbie. Excited to see where this project (as well as the show itself) takes me.
Completing logo projects means providing my clients all the files they will need going forward. It’s not just sending a jpeg of the finalized logo. You have to take into account all the possible ways the logo will be applied. Will this logo be used only in the digital space or will there be print elements? Will it work on light and dark backgrounds? Will all the elements of the logo translate well on multiple backgrounds and platforms? Because of these questions and more, I like to provide multiple files for my clients in the final stage.
Many discussions and revisions have led us to this point. We have arrived at the solution the brand needed. Delivery of that solution may need to be in various parts. The logo and its variations are sent in multiple formats, for web and for print. The logo is the centerpiece of their visual brand identity so it needs to be prepared to work.
First, the main logo in full color. Alternate files will include variations of the logo for it to work on light backgrounds and dark backgrounds. For more involved logos, a one-color option can also be handy to have in the future. The one-color option is very versatile. Its uses include letterhead, stamps, or even laser-cut products. For example, the Nike swoosh logo is an extremely versatile, one-color logo that can be used on various products in a variety of colors.
For combination logos (with typography and an icon), you’ll need to think how those will translate horizontally and vertically. Each element will need to be isolated and maneuvered. The results will vary depending on whether you need a banner/sign or a Facebook cover photo.
The needs of the client may require multiple components to be satisfied. Delivering for the client means providing as much value as possible. The more problems you solve preemptively in the delivery stage, the greater the value and the longer it will last.
Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity & Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority promote the advancement of college and university bands. The organizations share a national headquarters and a national publication. The PODIUM is that national publication.
As Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer, this publication is one of my main responsibilities. Every semester (spring and fall), an issue of The PODIUM is produced and sent to chapters and alumni members across the country. According to The PODIUM Online, the purpose of the publication is “a show-window of the college band world” and “serves as a snapshot of the Fraternity, Sorority, and the college & university band at the time”.
Published across multiple mediums, The PODIUM articles cover a wide range of topics relevant to Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma, and the greater college band world. Articles aim to educate, entertain, and inspire those engaged in the exciting world of the college band through the exchange of ideas, experiences, and expertise.
I’ve come a long way since I arrived in the National Headquarters in April of 2013. Before that time, I had never used Adobe InDesign before. Within months on job, I had to learn enough of the program to produce a 44-48 page magazine. Recently, the 9th issue I’ve designed was released into the world. Visually, I feel like this is the best one I’ve done. The Fall 2017 issue of The PODIUM is the culmination of subtle and not so subtle changes to the layout over the years.
The Cover / The Theme
Every cover I’ve designed reflects the theme of that particular edition of The PODIUM. I’ve written before about what a magazine cover is suppose to do. The Fall 2017 theme is the post-National Convention recap, which is the theme of most odd year fall issues. With this being my 3rd post-National Convention issue, I continued the tradition of using the official National Convention photo of the attendees. My initial idea was to have the photo cover the entire area and place The PODIUM logo within the picture. However, due to the dimensions of the photo, I had come up with a new idea.
I made two copies of the photo, with one serving as a background and another in the foreground. I overlayed the light to dark blue gradient (made with the same blues from the 2017 NatCon logo) onto the large background photo. I placed the smaller version of the photo on top as if it was a physical photo laying on top of a table. Drop shadow was added to the photo to help with the effect. I placed the official 2017 NatCon logo with the text “CONVENTION EDITION” at the bottom to put a stamp on this particular issue’s theme.
The Inside / The Articles
Throughout my years here, I’ve experimented with the design of the inside of the magazine in an effort to improve and evolve the magazine. I’ve altered the masthead, the calendar of events, and the From The Executive Director page. I’ve completely overhauled the table of contents and other elements, drawing inspiration from professional, entertainment, and other fraternal publications.
Subtle yet important touches include increasing the space between text columns as well as the space from the edges of pages. The additional white space makes the magazine cleaner overall.
In the Fall 2017 issue, I’ve arrived at an article format I really like. I gave the title text more weight and have an excerpt that acts as a preview of the content within. I’m very visually satisfied with this layout, which is still flexible throughout the magazine. The tradition of using one of the colors of the author’s school continues in this issue and work well in this new style.
The National Officers section is where National Leadership submits articles for publication. They usually promote national initiatives and/or provide important news or advice to members. I completely changed this section to be more readable with dark text on white paper. The blue top and bottom sections let the reader know they are in a different section with a different purpose. I always want to design something that is clean yet still distinctive. The author and their title moved to the top to make room for their photo. Having the officer’s photo beside their article puts a face to the important name, creating that connection for the reader.
I’ve gotten great feedback on this latest issue of The PODIUM magazine. It’s the closest to what I’ve always wanted to The Podium to be visually. Through trial and error, research, and the support of those who I work with I learned how to make a national magazine and then how to steadily improve it. I’ll always strive for greater design, clean yet creative, for the Fraternity and the Sorority.
The intersection of sports and design is a beautiful place. My favorite sport to watch is football yet this season was the first year I had ever participated in Fantasy Football. Fantasy Football is where you are the general manager / owner of a virtual gridiron football franchise . You draft players and manage your lineup from week to week, trying to best other virtual teams in your league. But first and foremost, you have make a name for your team – literally.
The Name & The Tagline
Coming up with creative names is one of my favorite things to do in life. I know some people do parody names or utilize creative football puns. The Stroll City Strivers are my team. Strolling refers to the tradition of performing synchronized dance and step moves to music. I learned how to when I became a brother of the MIGHTY Iota Zeta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at North Carolina A&T. Speaking of Kappa Kappa Psi, the Fraternity motto is “Strive for the Highest”. I also present a workshop at conventions called “Strolling & Striving In The Brilliant Light of Brotherhood”. So, naming my team the Stroll City Strivers and having #StrollAndStrive as our slogan just fits.
Figuring out how to visually interpret strolling in a logo presented a challenge. Also, designing a mascot logo in general presents a challenge for me. I usually like to create more minimalistic, symbol type brands. I don’t consider myself a particularly talented illustrator but I do like to push myself when I can. I took a photo of myself mid-stroll (“throwing a K” as we call it) and put it in Adobe Illustrator. The pen tool and I went through the photo and created vectors of the most essential parts with some creative license. I chose to use various shades of blue to highlight certain features and shadows.
The first pass of the logo and the second pass of the logo differ mainly in the text used. I posted the initial version in the Makers of Sport Slack community for feedback. Who better to get feedback from on my fictional franchise’s branding than designers who work with actual school athletic departments and professional teams. I was given some tips, including giving my wordmark more weight. I revisited the text, choosing a new font and altered it to give it some personality.
Huge salute to Brandon Moore, whose Staubachs Coffee team social media graphics served as inspiration for me to create some for Stroll City.
5 MICS is a design series I started celebrating my personal 5 favorite MCs in hip-hop, the rappers whose music and style I love.
I analyzed their photos and pulled what I considered the most recognizable elements of them. Then, I sketched out what would eventually become simple illustrations of each. I created a general face/head template and then applied the unique elements on top of that.
Like with each design series I do, I created a system of presentation that would be consistent throughout. I took the microphone I made, duplicated it 4 more times, and put the mics in formation to be the 5 Mics project logo. With each MCs illustration, I drew additional inspiration from a project or other specific bit of information about the artist.
“There’s levels to this but I’m a whole new floor.”
The colors in the background are inspired by the cover of her EP, Beauty And The Beast.
“But, I’m not defined by the sales of my first week
Cause in my mind the only way I fail; if my verse weak”
The background here refers to Logic’s skill of solving Rubik’s cubes at an incredible speed.
“Cole under pressure. What that make? Diamonds.”
His 2014 Forest Hills Drive album was the inspiration for the background.
“It’s hard being a Lupe fan, go to Harvard to be a Lupe stan.”
Background is “All Black Everything”.
“If it don’t touch my soul, then I can’t listen to it.”
The purple was inspired by the Cadillactica album. The lightning cut was inspired by Mt. Olympus. The crown refers to what K.R.I.T. means (King Remembered In Time).
One of the great things about being a graphic designer is having the ability to pay visual tribute to those that impact you. We should all use our skills and gifts to deposit as much positivity into the world as possible. The 5 MICS design series is just one example of me creatively saluting some of those who provide greatness to the soundtrack of my life and the life of others.
I currently serve as the Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer at the National Headquarters of Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma. In our office, I am the only one exclusively dedicated to graphic design. I’m THE graphic design professional at HQ. I consider myself a one-man graphics wrecking crew! As such, I’m responsible for using my skill set to promote the brand of the Fraternity and Sorority.
Being in-house, for me, means being able to apply my knowledge and translate my love for the organizations into visually appealing and communicative art. As an in-house designer, I personally know and care about everything I do. It’s not just a job for me. I really get to live with the brands. I also get to help evolve those brands and then apply that evolution across various mediums. The deep connections I have with the Fraternity and Sorority helps me do better, more relevant work that will stand the test of time.
Instead of starting fresh every project, I’m working with people who have developed trust in me that’s built over time. We learn how we work and how to produce the best product. The creative process becomes easier. Also, I’m there to help manage all the designs and publications that are housed underneath these two larger umbrellas. I’ve re-designed both national websites and designed the Tau Beta Sigma visual brand identity and guidelines. I have a lot of experience designing for the organizations. This gives me ever-growing confidence to know I can properly showcase the personality of each in an impactful way each time.
“I see in-house design as a valuable resource, with in-depth knowledge and custodianship of a brand,”
Kate Bates, design manager at the British Library.
I feel that I am in a place where not just my work but my mind is valued. I’m not just asked to complete a task. I’m asked what I think about that direction. I’m asked how best to present information. I’m given creative freedom as well as creative clarity. There is a certain ownership you can take when you’re an in-house designer. There is a personal investment you’re making as well as an investment being made in you.
Last week, I broke down the Kappa Kappa Psi Centennial Logo. Today, I break down the logo design for the newest Tau Beta Sigma National Program, the Coda program.
Have I mentioned I love my job? The opportunity to brand various initiatives of the Fraternity and Sorority is one I cherish.
Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority is an organization dedicated to the service of collegiate bands and the promotion of equality and diversity.
The sorority operates primarily as a student service and leadership recognition society whose chief aim is to assist the Director of Bands in developing the leadership and enthusiasm that they require of their band. Our goals are not only to provide the band with organized and concentrated service activities, but to give our membership valid and wholesome experiences in organization, leadership, and social contacts.
The Coda program of Tau Beta Sigma encourages sisters to work with the elderly population through music. It is similar to the Crescendo program but the Coda focuses on the elderly rather than youth.
Coda is a common musical term for the concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the basic structure.
The program’s purpose is to focus on cultivating and continuing musicianship and music appreciation during the “concluding passage” of life.
from the Coda webpage on tbsigma.org
With the Crescendo logo, I analyzed the crescendo symbol on sheet music and thought about applying that inside the logo.
The final approved logo referenced the musical term, “a gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music”, by making each letter larger than the next. With this project, I took inspiration from the name Coda and immediately analyzed the coda symbol in music.
I recreated the general shape in Adobe Illustrator and added custom laurel leaves on the shape. On the inside, instead of just having 2 straight lines intersecting, I played with the idea of placing a baton in the middle. The baton is seen throughout the official Tau Beta Sigma visual brand identity, which I also worked on.
I was right on the money with the direction I went, according the National Council! They asked me to extend the axis of the lines to mimic more of the traditional coda sign and try the baton pointing up instead of down.
Making those changes really enhanced the overall visual. Extending the axis of the lines made the reference to the musical coda symbol more concrete. The baton is now pointing up from a more active perspective. The text below the logo is in the Playfair Display font, one of the official fonts chosen by the Sorority for use. After all the adjustments were made, the logo was approved!
Purpose driven design will always be my favorite thing to see and do.