I love college football. It’s my favorite sport to watch. Saturdays bring me great joy in the fall. As of writing this post, we are days from the start of the first full weekend of college football and I am excited. As you know, another thing that excites me is logo design. On this episode of “I Didn’t Design It But I Like It”, I want to highlight the work of Harley Creative – specifically their College Football Hall of Fame logo.
The College Football Hall of Fame (and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience) opened in Atlanta, Georgia in August of 2014. The Hall of Fame is represented by a mighty fine logo designed by Harley Creative. The logo is a football illustration with a series of ribbons/banner around it with the text, including the Chick-fil-A logo. I’m a fan of the composition of this logo. The text is warped & mapped to each ribbon well. It accomplishes everything it needs to without doing too much or too little.
I’m also a fan of their National Singing Day logo. Since the event was operating at the same place, it made sense to use many of the same elements. Love the typography work with the metallic-type effect on “National Singing”. I also love the illustrated pen being the i and singing the paper within the mark. These logos are well done.
Harley Creative is an Atlanta-based design studio that specializes in branding and graphic design for the sports and entertainment industry. They’ve done so much great work and made so many marks that I thoroughly enjoy. If I had to pick some other favorites of mine, I would mention the SWAC Championship, the Citrus Bowl, and the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville to name a few. Harley Creative maximizes their skills in the sports design space to fantastic result.
Go check them out on social media if you want to be inspired by great design work.
Looking at the some of the best athlete visual brands and finishing the latest season of Luke Cage on Netflix inspired me to create a new brand identity project series: #HeroesAreAthletes. As a logo & brand identity designer, I am always coming up with ways to practice and get better at my craft. I’m also in the creative place in my life where, if I think it’s cool, I’m going to try it.
#HeroesAreAthletes is a design series where I put together a visual brand concept for fictional characters that are considered heroes of their fictional story. At least at first, I’m going to be focusing on comic book heroes. The logo for the series itself plays off comic books. The logo is inspired by the top left corner of comic books, where publishers typically feature the company’s logo, the price of the book, and the number of the issue. I designed the logo with the official Creative Bobbie logo at the top, “Heroes Are Athletes” text in the center, and a simplified cape tail with a star.
The first brand concept I tackled was for the bulletproof hero for hire, the power man Luke Cage. Using other athlete brands as inspiration, I wanted to create something that used the least to represent the most. Luke Cage was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. He gains the powers of superhuman strength and unbreakable skin through an experimental procedure he was subjected to involuntarily. He now uses his powers to protect Harlem. My logo concept speaks to who he is and his story.
The logo is created on a 6×8 grid. In the United States, prison cells are usually about 6 by 8 feet in dimension. His initials LC are both seen. The overall shape refers to his real first name: Carl. The top right can also be interpreted as a closed fist from the front. (The intro to the Luke Cage series sees him punch at the camera.) I went with a blocked, heavy logo that speaks to his power. The colors are inspired by the Netflix show’s branding and his initial appearance in Marvel Comics.
After arriving at a logo I liked, I began seeing how I could apply and extend his brand. I created a full brand presentation with hoodie mockups, a shoe design concept, and even coffee packaging design. “Getting coffee” is a recurring joke within the show. I also included his catchphrase “Sweet Christmas” throughout.
The next hero to get the branding treatment was Misty Knight. Misty is one of my favorite characters on the show. She’s been through a lot and maintained her strength through it all. She deserves a great visual brand identity. Misty is an outstanding police detective in the New York City Police Department who often teams up with Luke Cage. After going through many possiblities, I arrived at her logo. Obviously, I combined her initials M and K. The disconnected left side of the M represents Misty’s bionic arm. The left side of the M is actually a sword, a common weapon of knight – a play on her last name. The circle surrounding the mark is left over from my initial plan to incorporate a basketball reference some how, as Misty has a background as a basketball player. The colors were chosen from her and her bionic arm using the eyedropper tool in Adobe Photoshop.
This whole project is another example of finding the joy in the intersection of what I do to what I like/love. I’m going to continue this journey with other heroes I feel I can make a visual brand concept for. What heroes should I do next?
The Blue & Gold Loyalty Foundation supports the North Carolina A&T University Band Program through fundraising efforts. The Elite 100 is the designation for a select group of donors to the Blue & Gold Loyalty Foundation. Supporters were asked to donate $100 and were recognized for their support of the North Carolina A&T State University Band Program. As an alumnus of A&T and the A&T Band, I love providing designs for this cause. I made the official Blue & Gold Loyalty Foundation and had an idea for the Elite 100 logo.
First, the badge shape mimics the Foundation’s shape but I made the weight of the stroke heavier for Elite 100. At the bottom of the logo, you can see the top of the same drum major hat that is prominent in the branding of the Foundation. The drum major is the student leader of the band. The Elite 100 are somewhat like the drum majors of the donors. The top of the hat represents the pinnacle of giving. The goal is to encourage supporters to strive to give that extra for a great cause.
The Elite 100 text inside is written in a thicker font with the 100 being the most visible. The number 100 represents the amount being given per supporter as well as the name of the recognition so it needed to be front and center. The sea of lines at the bottom represent the musical staff, 5 lines & 4 spaces. Another musical reference can be seen at the very top of the logo. The treble clef, along with the drum major, also ties the Elite 100 logo to the Blue & Gold Loyalty Foundation logo.
This project is another example of my calling to design with purpose. I love the A&T band program. As an alum, I have a duty to use my skillset (and my dollars) to support in any way possible whenever I can.
The moment I saw Brandon Moore’s Staubach’s Coffee brand on Twitter was the moment I discovered a brand new level to fantasy football. In 2017, I was invited to participate in my first ever fantasy football league. His Staubach’s Coffee brand inspired me to create an entire brand for my fantasy football team, the Stroll City Strivers.
The very first thing that struck me about the brand was the creative name of the franchise: Staubach’s Coffee. I’ve quickly learned the importance of a great fantasy football franchise name. Staubach’s Coffee is a delicious, ingenious combination of the Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and the American coffee company Starbucks Coffee. After you get done marveling at the magnificent name, you get to the logo. The star (hehe) of the show is the illustration of good ol’ Roger in the classic Cowboys helmet in the center. The name surrounds the illustration with a star on either side. The texture over the design enhances the classic feel of the overall brand.
Also, it wasn’t just the logo that inspired me. Take a peek at the #StaubachsCoffeeForged hashtag on Twitter to see how Brandon brought the franchise alive on social media. There were starting lineups, game results, top performer highlights, game ads, and even uniform concepts! This whole project is another example of when design and sports meet to provide me with such motivation and entertainment!
Brandon Moore is a Graphic Artist in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area that currently does work for the Miami Dolphins and New Miami Stadium. His brand identities are awesome and I often refer to them when I am trying to present my own. I, personally, wish the Oklahoma City Thunder would call Brandon and tell him to brand the team. He already has a great presentation on his Behance that would uplift the visuals of the franchise to new heights.
Salute and thank you, Brandon Moore, for your work!
National Leadership Conference. Also, known as NLC.
NLC is the event that happens every summer where district officers, counselors, and governors come together along with national leadership to discuss how to better serve Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma as well as college and university bands. It is a very important event for the Fraternity and Sorority. So, as with every other event hosted by the organizations, it needed a logo. As the National Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer (my title is boss), it fell on me to provide such.
Obviously, the first thought that came to mind was how to represent leadership. Leadership describes the participants as well as speaks to the goal of the event itself. When I thought leadership, my mind went to podium (or lectern). Often during meetings and conventions, presiding officers speak from behind one. In Adobe Illustrator, I tried a few options for the illustration of a lectern.
Once I had the base I wanted, I thought about what else I could put on it. I could have tried to put both the Fraternity and the Sorority crests on the design. However, I wanted to do something that fit more seamlessly with the design. The star in the center of the lectern represents Kappa Kappa Psi. Much of the Kappa Kappa Psi brand uses the star. The director baton represents Tau Beta Sigma. Also, if you turn the entire logo clockwise 90 degrees, you can see the bottom of the lectern is a musical staff. I love fitting in subtle references to organizations in my designs at work.
To complete the design, I used the font Trajan to write the names of the organizations, “NLC”, and National Leadership Conference around the logo. The NLC is most prominent because that’s the most commonly used name for the event. I’m a fan of Trajan because it gives off a level of official sophistication that I like. I adjusted the kerning above and below so that the additional text would cover a good amount of the length.
Overall, the logo looks really nice.
Hopefully, I’ve created something that will stand the test of time.
Welcome to the first official installment of a new series entitled “I Didn’t Design It But I Like It”. In this series, I want to highlight the design work of others that I enjoy. I am a big advocate for giving flowers while people can still smell them. I believe loving design means loving designers. Seeing great work acts as not only inspiration but motivation. We should all share our appreciation for and to those who inspire us.
In this first official installment, I’d like to salute Torch Creative and their work on the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) logo. My first time seeing the logo was when it was brought into the office by my friend and co-worker TJ, a graduate of UNO. It actually took closer inspection to realize that the O itself was designed to include the U and the N. This increased my fondness of the logo as I am a huge fan of clean and clever logos. TJ also showed off the UNO Maverick logo which I was also a fan of. The entire athletics brand of UNO gets two thumbs up from me.
When TJ took my friend William and myself up to Omaha on a road trip, he gave us a tour of the university. On this tour, we were able to see the beautiful on-campus applications of the logo. We attended a UNO hockey game, my first ever hockey game, which was played in Baxter Arena in Omaha. On the outside of the arena, you could see that mighty fine O shining brightly in the night. Inside, the store had the logo (and other brand elements) on all kinds of different apparel and other items. It’s one thing to see a logo on the internet. It’s a completely different and much more rewarding feeling to see how it is being applied on site in its natural habitat.
I actually didn’t find out that Torch Creative did this logo I was crushing on so hard until later. Torch Creative is a design studio based in Dallas, Texas that I have been following on Twitter for a while now. On June 19, they posted a tweet that stopped me in my tracks. So, I went to their website and discovered that I had somehow missed, in their portfolio, a project entitled “University of Nebraska Omaha Rebrand”.
The work of Torch Creative is a source of great inspiration. They done work for so many big time brands, events, and schools. A lot of their work lives in that beautiful cross section of design and sports. Even their sketches are absolutely phenomenal. Salute to Torch Creative!
Let people know you like their stuff. When you see design work (or any good work) you enjoy on social media, don’t just like but leave a positive comment. Let the people know that they are creating and sharing something that positively impacts you. I hope I am creating designs that are doing the same.
I am the Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer at Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Headquarters. This means that I serve as the one-man graphic design department at headquarters and handle a variety of projects, which include websites, visual brand identities, trade show displays, magazines, and more. Last year, the more included designing the visual layout for the Chapter Vice President of Membership Teaching Manual and the Membership Candidate Guidebook for the Kappa Kappa Psi National Membership Education Program: The Road to Wisdom.
The Road to Wisdom is a comprehensive education plan that provides lesson plans and activities that was adopted at the 2017 National Convention in Orlando, Florida, by an overwhelming majority of brothers. The work behind this plan began years before its completion. My work with the Kappa Kappa Psi Curriculum Committee began with design the logo for the program. Knowing this logo would be the centerpiece of the entire brand of the program, I wanted something that would be immediately recognizable.
The star is a frequently used shape throughout the imagery and symbolism of Kappa Kappa Psi. I made the star the main shape and within it cut out the shape of a road. The road is drawn at an angle and curve, moving forward, upward, and onward. The two lines on the road mark the center of a two-way road. The two-way road can represent the giving and receiving of education as well as two-way communication between teacher and student. The logo was used to promote the program and brand the curriculum committee but the two full textbooks would be a much larger and in-depth design undertaking.
The outstanding Kappa Kappa Psi Curriculum Committee spent a lot of time crafting a lesson plan and corresponding documents to provide maximum value to brothers and Membership Candidates. Once they had the content collected and organized, they trusted me to interpret their great work visually. To do that efficiency, I used Adobe InDesign. For this kind of project, there is no better program to use that InDesign.
First, the covers of the two textbooks had to properly represent the Fraternity and the program. I put the Road To Wisdom logo large on the cover with the official Greek letter logo of the Fraternity at the bottom. The title of each book was placed in-between. In the background, there is a collage of various photos related to Kappa Kappa Psi, including historical landmarks and symbols.
Inside the book, I had to use the power of InDesign to setup certain things to make sure each book was visually consistent throughout. Font choices and title styles were saved in the Paragraph Styles section. Section titles, excerpt text, Membership Candidate Responses, Guiding Questions For Discussion, and other elements that would be in every lesson were made to be consistent throughout. Also, speaking of consistency, InDesign allows you to create Master Pages that create the template for the rest of the pages in the document as assigned. The majority of the books use the template I created with the full text Kappa Kappa Psi logo on the left, the Road To Wisdom star in the center, and “Road To Wisdom” with the page number to the right.
Each lesson in the Road To Wisdom is color coded. These colors are not only featured in their corresponding section but in the Table of Contents. The Table of Contents also are the first hint that I will be using the road (from the main logo) as a motif throughout the books. The road is featured on each of the lesson covers. Each lesson has its color and a summary of the information they will be learning or teaching, depending on the book. The Vice President of Membership had additional elements such as Required and Recommended Attendees. The differences in the two books stem from the different perspectives (teacher and student).
Throughout each book, information and directives are presented so that the teacher and student can get the most out of their membership education experience. The committee and I talked at length about the best way to translate their incredibly important and hard work into tangible publications. The purpose of The Road to Wisdom is to ensure that each future Brother, regardless of initiating chapter, is receiving the same national standard of education and training. These books are the foundation of building a positive life-long Brotherhood experience and I am blessed to have played a role in their design.
The Finals Logo Should Be More Different From The Playoffs One
I am not saying the logo isn’t well made. The logo is fine. However, the importance of the NBA Finals had typically been made immediately apparent by the logo. The sophisticated written wordmark with the trophy in the background was special. This new thing is way too similar to the new Playoffs branding.
In my opinion, there should be a stark difference between the logo promoting a first round game and the NBA Finals! Reaching the NBA Finals means reaching a special echelon in the sport of basketball. The logo should reflect such.
The NBA Finals logo has become so iconic to me and I will miss it. Listen. I understand what they are doing. I really do. I understand their desire for consistent branding and colors for the Playoffs and the NBA Finals. I just don’t like it.
But I expect, like most changes like this, we will eventually get used to it and accept our lack of control in the whole matter.
It is your stamp. Your mark. It represents you, even when you aren’t in the room. It is your symbol. Your emblem. It’s worth working with a professional designer to craft the right one to be the centerpiece of your visual brand identity. If you yourself are talented at logo and brand identity design, have at it! However, for those who are not skilled in those areas, you need to consult a professional.
Gain A Professional Perspective
Professionals in the design can help you see the long game. There are a lot of parts and steps to building a brand. Someone experienced in logo design and brand identity work can help you navigate the process. It’s not just the designing but the opportunity for consultation. The conversations you have with designers about your goals can be very fruitful and enriching for you personally and professionally. We are not simply tools but potential teammates. The questions creatives typically ask will refine the need you have. Your vision plus an expert teammate you can trust equals magic!
You Get What You Pay For
Experience and quality matter. If your main objective is to spend as little money as possible building your brand, you will get what you pay for. What is achieving your goal worth to you? If you are not willing to invest in you, why would you expect anyone else to? The more you put into your foundation at the start of the process, the more value will be realized and the longer it will last. If you are unwilling to spend money on your brand, that says something about how much you actually believe in that vision.
What is your brand worth? Do you believe in its purpose? Is it worth making sure you do it right the first time? The best logos should be timeless, original, and versatile. There’s so much that goes into the conception and construction of such a logo. Seek out those who are experienced in crafting such so that your brand may experience maximum excellence.