One of the recent projects I’ve had the joy of working on is designing a new logo for my friend Knockoutness b.k.a. Janessa Smith. Janessa is a gamer who streams on the platform Twitch. She reached out to me to create a logo she could use to promote herself and showcase on her channels. I was happy to help!
Personally, logo design is my favorite neighborhood within the bustling metropolis of graphic design. It is the creation of marks that can represent everything from entire countries to your favorite local restaurant. The world would be a bland, uninteresting, and potentially confusing place without logos. The design of such important visual markers is a big part of my work and the end result of some of my greatest mental adventures.
In high school, I was given a VHS tape with an assortment of band footage. The footage included some local high school bands and the North Carolina A&T State University Blue & Gold Marching Machine. This began my journey of buying, trading, collecting, selling, and even filming my own footage of marching bands. I had, and still have, a particular love of watching Historically Black College and University (HBCU) band footage from various schools across the country. I even joined a forum called Marching Central (which eventually became Showtime Magazine) in high school and became cool with fellow bandheads from all over.
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.
P.S. You can check out the official Road To Wisdom webpage we designed as a resource for the program.
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.
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.
My favorite projects tend to be the ones where I can design for non-profits. Branding matters for non-profits. It brings me great joy to be able to use my gifts to help advance the efforts of an organization or company trying to provide assistance to a community.