Hexanine is a brand design firm dedicated to providing powerful experiences in print, identity, packaging and strategy. We create design solutions for brands that shape our culture. Tim Lapetino and Jason Adam are partners of Hexanine, with offices in Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively.
Identity design is one of our great passions, and we relish working with the foundational elements of great brands. Just as Cicero said the eyes are the window to the soul, we believe that an organization’s logo is a glimpse into its inner life. While an identity won’t say everything about a organization, it is a key distillation of the power, energy and culture of that brand.
Shevet Achim is a charitable organization that brings together Palestinian families and Israeli surgeons—to provide life-saving heart surgeries for Palestinian children while breaking down cultural barriers. Even though their strategic work of peace and compassion spoke volumes, the identity needed an overhaul. We wanted to amplify the core message, allowing the great humanitarian work to shine through.
Shevet Achim required a redesign that would speak to US-based fundraising markets while still remaining relevant to Middle Eastern audiences. The emotional drive behind Shevet’s mission was to help mend the divide between two cultures, bringing them together in a powerful way. How would we address this in a single mark?
Sometimes The Obvious Answer Is The Right One
Shevet Achim previously struggled with inconsistent, scattershot messaging, attempting to communicate too many aspects simultaneously. Prior to the concepting phase, we worked with them to trim their message to its essentials—what the organization did, and why. This quintessence would be the basis for the mark. So, this meant that the ideas of connection and some form of the heart were crucial to the visual story. Hearts and hands seemed to be appropriate symbols, but the real challenge would be to combine these into an interesting and unique mark that would also carry layers of meaning and metaphor.
Layers Of Meaning
The ideal interaction with the mark would work like this: at first glance, it would communicate a surface relationship—hands coming together to form a heart. Even if the viewer knows nothing about the organization and its mission, the logo speaks on certain levels of emotion and action. Then, as the viewer understands Shevet’s mission (allowing the medical needs of children to serve as the avenue to repair deep cultural division, when generous surgeons donate their services) the mark takes on additional layers of meaning with repeated exposure.
Once we settled on the basic concept of two clasping hands forming the “sides” of the heart, it became an issue of rendering—what style would be most appropriate for the audience, for the brand, and its targets? In this case, we were working with metaphorical and literal hearts, which allowed us to think about the often-cliched symbol in a broader way. Utilize a more literal heart, with ventricles, arteries, and the like might be appropriate, but would it receive instant recognition and “quick-read” value that every good mark requires? How would these symbols be integrated? Additionally, the types of reproduction to be used by Shevet Achim (website use and 4-color digital printing, mostly) meant that we could utilize a multi-color palette, which opened the door to more expressive rendering style, like the painterly style employed in the final mark.
While headquartered in the Middle East, Shevet needed fund raising and volunteer help from a mainly-Western audience, so the typography required an authentic Middle Eastern flavor, but needed to suit audiences stateside as well. There is a big difference between true Middle Eastern design and what the typical North American considers “Middle Eastern”. We had to consider that deeply, and make sure the end result resonated with both parties.
A Good Mission = A Better Logo
Beyond our process, it is much easier to design a great logo when the organization/brand itself is superb. The mission of Shevet Achim was so interesting, compassionate and meaningful that provided fertile ground for us to mine.
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