Case Study: Freeland Electric Co.

In my humble opinion, Black Lightning is one of the best shows on television. It’s the newest addition to The CW Network’s family of superhero shows. It’s based on the DC Comics character Black Lightning and his family. From the music to the acting to the storylines, I have thoroughly enjoyed the program thus far. So, as is custom with me (see 100 Fictional Places and Doctor Who as examples), I wanted to design something inspired by the show and the fictional world it depicts. The result was this Freeland Electric Company logo.

Get it? (Electric…lightning…I’m clever)


Freeland is the fictional city that Black Lightning is set in. So I got into my sketchbook and started coming up with some options. The main idea I had was to somehow combine the letter F with a lightning bolt. The lightning bolt is often used as a symbol for electricity so the challenge was to represent it in a unique way within the letter.

I’m fond of using the grid and simple shapes to construct logos. I like the challenge of designing a logo that accomplishes its goal with as little as possible. When making logos that involve letters, I’m trying to discover what is the minimum required for the viewer to recognize the letter. Even within the relatively simple concept, there were some different options in how to present the combination.


The colors of the brand are taken straight from the Black Lightning promotional poster. Typically, when I design something inspired by a show or movie, I like to use the eyedropper tool to take the colors directly from the reference.


I love designing logos. So it’s fun to come up with these ideas and see where I can take them. It’s great to take opportunities to do work outside of in-house and client projects. Helps me practice my craft and express myself in new ways.

Why just tell people what I’m enjoying when I can show them through my work. I like sharing these types of pieces on my social media and tagging the franchises I’m paying homage to through the vectors I push in Adobe Illustrator.


How To Pull From Various Sources of Inspiration

There is a great value to inspiration. Inspiration makes you feel something. It influences you. It stimulates you to do something creative. It’s the spark that can ignite an ever burning flame. The need for inspiration is real. However, you need not limit your sources of inspiration. 

One of the sources can be and should be real life.

No matter your area of expertise, getting outside for inspiration provides you with a fresh view. As a graphic designer, of course I am inspired by the outstanding work I see from the designers I follow. I’m also inspired by the work I see out and about. I’m inspired by people, nature, scenery, etc. For example, let’s say you’re trying to design a brand identity for a city or town. You’ll want to look at other municipal branding projects to see what other cities have done. But the best way to get started is to take in the city itself. Take photos of the landmarks. Talk to the citizens. Walk around and get a feel for the city. The inspiration is around you. When trying to capture a specific locale, you need to experience it and know the nature of the scene. That will allow you create the symbols/icons you need.

Looking at other similar logos can be inspiring but just doing that is limiting. Taking in the real life outside live and through photos challenges you to interpret in an original way. Capture the originality of your own perspective. There are a lot of tigers, panthers, lions, etc. in the world of sports. The reason why there’s such a variety of designs is because each designer has captured a unique perspective of the animal through photo references. A tiger is a tiger, but what you pull from its features is what makes your design yours. If you’re only looking at others’ interpretations, you’re limiting the potential of your own creativity.

Every project you take on may not have a direct example you can look to as a guide. Play with the perspective and the visual representation of things that currently exist in the world. Get creative with how you use the elements you see. Expand your sources of inspiration as much as you possibly can. It will often surprise you where the spark will come from.

That spark could also come from outside of the market that you’re operating in. When I create branding for Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Convention, I am pulling inspiration from other fraternities and sororities. However, I more so pull inspiration from the Super Bowl, Final Four, NHL, NBA, Oscars, Grammys, etc. Dreaming big means you’ll bring the most value to each and every project. I want my work to be able to stand in the same room as the work from much larger brands in much larger markets. I’m not limiting myself to work like mine. I’m inspired by great work across genres, styles, and markets.

To be the best version of yourself, you need to keep your mind and eye open.


Creating A Logo To Recognize Outstanding Student Musicians

Few things excite me more in my position at Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Headquarters than getting an e-mail asking me to design a new logo for a Fraternity or Sorority program or initiative. My love of designing logos is well documented at this point. So how do you think I responded to a request to re-design the Kappa Kappa Psi awards page with 10+ new logos?

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Case Study: Blue & Gold Loyalty Foundation Logo

Being asked to design a logo for a new foundation to support your alma mater’s band program is an awesome opportunity. Having the skillset to actually pull off something that fits what’s required is a divine gift I cherish. My life was forever changed by becoming a member of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine in the fall of 2002 as a young freshman. So many friendships were forged and important memories were created. I jump at any opportunity to support the band, especially through my passion for logo design.

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Why I Love To Design With Meaning & Purpose

The most satisfying logo design projects are the ones that do more than just look good. My favorite logos are the ones that tell an interesting story and are designed with meaning. You want what you do to be of importance. The more you put into a logo, the more its audience can pull from it and appreciate about it.

I love logos where you can tell the references that influenced it. For example, my 2015 Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Convention logo told the story of the locale of our event and the focus of our organizations. Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby, inspired the horse motif and the overall banner shape that would be used throughout the brand identity. Within the logo, I was able to reference horns, musical staffs, bass clefs, and the official flowers of the Fraternity and the Sorority. It was really fun to see people catch all the elements I put into it. Those elements represent the amount of thought that went into the logo design. Elements of that was seen throughout the material designed for the event.

The meaning & purpose behind a design influences the design decisions. There is great joy in discovering the design elements within a piece of work. It adds to the significance of the design. From a designer’s perspective, it is a much easier sell to a client or stakeholder when you can explain your design decisions and assign a purpose to each one. I want to make things that go beyond the surface level. I want to make things that speak to people. I want to make things that will not just look good but have impact. Meaningful visuals have the capability of enhancing connections we make and last longer within our memories.

There is an extra level of creativity you tap into when you are striving for greater meaning in design. It should be everyone’s goal to maximize their creative potential. That is only possible when you are passionate about what you are creating. I’ve written before about how purpose is the intersection of passion and talent. That purpose pushes me to make something meaningful and unique. I find it very satisfying to pack a lot of meaning into a design that can be felt by those who know what to look for.


How & Why I’m Turning Songs Into Logo Designs

Since deciding to take on The 100 Day Project for another year, I’ve made 35 logos representing 35 songs that I love. #TheCreativeBobbieHot100 has been incredibly fun to make. My Instagram is looking really nice nowadays and translating songs to logos has been a very rewarding creative practice.

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Case Study: The Dudley High School Marching Band of Thunder

I love marching band. I love graphic design. So, when I was approached by the Director of Bands at James B. Dudley High School to design a new logo for the band, I was very excited. However, this project would require me to illustrate a full panther mascot. This wouldn’t be the more minimal logos I had grown used to designing. I don’t consider myself an illustrator so this would be a challenge. But the challenge was well for worth it.

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