Michael Stinson is the Creative Director at Ramp Creative, a design studio located in downtown Los Angeles.
A group of post-production industry legends got together to start New Hat, an independent video and film production agency in Santa Monica, California. The new company wanted to communicate their expertise of color correction and the freedom of the independent New Hat’s creative process. My thinking was to allude to screen movement and inject a fresh look to the company brand to help separate New Hat apart from their corporate counterparts.
A few questions immediately came to my attention: How do we communicate color expertise in an identity? Can we show energy in a dynamic medium of the screen in the non-moving and non-changing medium of print? Finally, could we create a flexible and fresh system that didn’t look corporate?
Color is their main expertise, so that had to be the main part of the equation. But because color on the screen is an always-changing visual element, I started thinking that we needed to echo that transformation in print.
Because the parts of the company name, New and Hat, didn’t apply literally to their business activity, the two words as a brand name needed to be portrayed as a second element.
With the two parts to the identity: the ever-changing color element and downplaying of the name; we decided to design a unique look for the company. To begin with an overall look, I jumped ahead into developing the whole system first, rather than starting with the just the logo.
In developing multiple design directions, I explored colors, textures and composition. Each direction had a slightly different treatment of the logo, and the style changed with each piece of collateral. I kept thinking about the simple idea of movement to reference motion graphics and reinventing that energy from piece to piece.
Some directions were more exploratory, some conservative and some a combination of the two. After a few discussions with New Hat, we decided the third direction was the most simple, fresh approach. The client mentioned that the freeform artwork looked both like photographic film and digital waveforms at the same time. I love it when our clients resonate with the work and extract their own vision from concept.
Next up: refining the logo direction they chose. From there, I developed 18 subtle iterations of the logo and application until one worked in weight and balance on its own and within the identity system.
It’s good to really get the kinks out of a logo… we usually execute detailed adjustments so the client will not only love it, but also so the logo remains somewhat timeless. I felt the stacked version of the type worked best. It was unobtrusive and grounded–a great juxtaposition playing out through the system–while the rest of the stationery pieces changed color, composition and artwork.
The final identity system became an activated play of color on paper, where each represents a piece part of a collectible set. The resulting identity included a folder, letterhead, business card, envelope, buck slip, mailing labels and writing pads.