An abstract approach to brand identity

Green Hasson Janks folder with reflections

Varnished surfaces add surprise to this corporate presentation piece.

We recently finished a presentation kit for the Los Angeles-based accountants and business advisors Green Hasson Janks. Ordinarily a folder isn’t something I’d crow about. But this one’s really special.

Designed as a container for new business presentations, it features an unexpected twist on the firm’s key graphic element — a bold ampersand with an upward arrow known in the firm as the Uppersand. It’s their symbol of collaboration and is featured prominently in all their marketing materials and advertising. (More on that next week.)

We deconstructed the symbol, overlaying copies of it to create beautiful abstract shapes where the solid portions overlap. As you open the folder, these shapes resolve into the actual ampersand which is fully revealed on the three-panel interior.

GHJ Folder animationThe effect is enhanced by the overall velvety matte aqueous coating which plays against the mirror-gloss finish of spot UV varnish. That high shine reveals the full ampersand as the abstract graphic elements merge. This coming together to create a powerful whole is, of course, the whole point. It’s a message that’s subtly alluded to by our visuals, and strongly stated in the text.

Kudos to our senior designer Kevin Consales for this beautiful concept, to ColorNet Press for the meticulous execution, and to Green Hasson Janks for the courage to try something powerfully different as an expression of their brand identity.

Kid’s-eye view of brands

What a lovely idea. Show a 5-year-old a series of logos and see what she thinks about them. Ohio-based designer Adam Ladd video’d his daughter as she gave her impressions of the brand identities we see around us every day. Amazing what creeps into our brains as children.

You can bemoan the level of brand saturation we all live under. Or you can accept it, enjoy it and maybe even use it. One man’s overwhelm is another man’s choice. But no matter how you slice it, we humans are smart about patterns and very good at first impressions. We had to be in order to survive in a prehistoric world where we could instantly become food to dumber but more powerful beasts. (Oooh, maybe corporations aren’t people! They’re….)

So it’s no wonder a kindergartner can so quickly grasp the essence of a symbol, and associate it with something she’s experienced. Want to hear what she has to say? Check out this video.

Blumark brand identity launched

Blumark logoDynamic. Different. Distinctive. The new Detroit-based financial advisory group wanted to be perceived as anything but traditional. So they chose a name that would set them apart: Blumark. And they picked a marketing and public relations strategist who could help them find their voice: Sablan Communications. And Constance Sablan introduced them to FreeAssociates.

Our goal was to embody the youth, energy and vitality of the new start-up, but to temper it with a little warmth and and a lot of professionalism. In their words, “Traditional values. Innovative financial solutions.”

The crisp, clean typography says “We know what we’re doing.” The handmade brushstroke — the circular “mark” — speaks to the personal, human relationships that the partners forge with their clientele. And the single blue letter provides both focus and hook, letting the marketing team talk about how “U” are at the center of everything Blumark does.

Simple, bold and memorable, the new Blumark logo should drive the the Motor City firm’s branding efforts forward in high gear.