Finding Mediums

BRANDS ARE VEHICLES FOR CHANGE

+ my VALUE-BASED THINKING CRAFTS CHANGE AT THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM. I HELP RE-ARRANGE INTERNAL BRAND COMMUNICATIOn BY FACILITATING BEHAVIORAL-THINKING CHANGE, APPLICATION, AND COMPANY INPUT & OUTPUT

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HOW TOOLKITS BUILD FUTURES (nerd alert)

+Art direction, brand design, systems design, copywriting

GITCOIN grows opensource!

The Gitcoin brand introduced faster innovation through a simple Adobe Illustrator toolkit. Like blockchain, the Gitcoin brand was built to grow users tools, education, and collaboration within the platform itself. This simple framework continues to yield brand, product, and business innovation & growth.

 
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Gitcoin’s interactive toolkit, built and layered in Adobe Illustrator, allows the Gitcoin Design Team to work within the brands guidelines, iterating and growing the brand as necessary. I deeply care about how clients work the brands I create.

Gitcoin was after an illustration style that could be animated, and built upon—like the blockchain tools the brand represents. We landed on this style, which continues to operate within the Gitcoin website, marketing material, and digital experience.

 

Building brands that are flexible, yet hold rigid guidelines is challenging. Gitcoin continues to prove the power of these brand building blocks through web, product, and video use. A simple brand shows structural integrity!

 

 

BUILDING proper communication takes time

Time is our true currency. How we spend our time is a direct reflection of where we place value within our selves, our communities and our employees. It is my duty, as a creative leader, to help others understand how larger principles such as time and value help sustain brands, products and growth from within.

As we hurtle towards 2020, communities are continuing to evolve and shift. Internal creative processes demand smarter design systems; the way we organize how people work directly impacts what customers see, and why. My greater mission for 2019 is to build in creative systems that speak to the future of communication design, sustainable workflows, products, missions and visions. Increasing transparency and user accessibility starts with asking questions, learning what’s missing, and moving confidently into the now.

 
 

 
 

+ ART DIRECTION, STRATEGY, BRAND DESIGN, BRAND SYSTEMS, COPYWRITING  

 
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SOCIOPOLITICAL (environment)

 

FROM WITHIN, AND WITHOUT

Good design, in my opinion, is about showing support through local activation. The communication for carafem holds a meaningful and insightful narrative to the customer, first Our sociopolitical climate is triggering; this campaign launched In 2015. carafem marched boldly into the spotlight, turning heads and agendas. the design system for carafem places value on a deeper sense of inner-self, power, and pride.

Today, carafem walks strong amongst 4 cities. The brand shows its support across a wide network of inventions, principles, and communication styles I helped define.

 
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Neil’s passion for creativity and bringing brands to life with authenticity and beauty is so far beyond most designers. He has an impressive ability to immerse himself in a project, see the iterations of a brand offline and online, and work client’s insights and feedback into every step of the process. He is obsessed with culture, community, and diversity and I am constantly learning from his unique view of the world. I am proud to have worked on several successful projects with Neil and sincerely look forward to the next opportunity to collaborate with him.
— Stacey Kawakami, Managing Director, Dialate
 
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empowering contrast   

Fascinated by the power of stark contrast we used simple and powerful typography, imagery, and color to deliver a high volume of content into a powerful message. The aesthetic of carafem is built around contrast and unity—its look mimics teen magazines and is meant to deliver both a B2C & B2B strategy.  

The tone of voice was built around honesty and real-life conversations. The creative direction helped support these values through empowering colors, typefaces and singular use of imagery.

Our audience was slated to view carafem's brand release in many forms of visual communication. From digital signs in the Washington D.C. Metro, to print posters for bus stops, mobile billboards, and interior design—the cultural impact of carafem was noticeable. It moved across the news, stirring up media from The New York Times, to The Huffington Post.    

The impact of carafem was huge. The power of the new brand forced us to think about the impact of branded environments as both a product and a support system. 

an excerpt from the new york times: 

"The four plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are from across the political spectrum: the American Civil Liberties Union, a health care group called carafem that provides abortions…

What they have in common is that the transit agency known as WMATA has rejected their advertisements, saying the ads ran counter to its guidelines. They have now banded together, saying the guidelines introduced in 2015 violate their First Amendment right to free speech."

 
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F*ck It!

We talked about the use of the asterisk in "f*ck" for 2 months. The details of a brand allow great communities to shine. Ultimately, we felt as though carafem would shine brightest through tasteful restraint— an ironic sentiment for a brand launch built around disruption.

Assigning character attributes to carafem’s TOV allows the brand to wear many hats. No matter how bold or unapologetic carafem seems to the public; to its patients it is nothing but a welcoming, private, and supportive brand, product and experience.  

 
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a softer side

Carafem leads with strength, power, and a bit of an attitude. This attitude stops at the door—welcoming carafem patients through positive and supportive communication to informative and impactful care. This powerful brand has been leading the charge for 4 years, lending a helping hand to those in need, with no where or no one else to turn to. Ultimately, brand success is measured by the lives it impacts, the reviews it receives, and the communities it sustains.  

 
Check out Carafem's stunning reviews, just 1 year after opening doors in Washington D.C.

Check out Carafem's stunning reviews, just 1 year after opening doors in Washington D.C.

seeing change

"Women have responded positively to the carafem approach. In 2015, we reached tens of thousands of women through digital and print media and served hundreds of clients. Ninety-six percent of our clients “strongly agreed” that they would recommend carafem to a friend (the other 4% “agreed”)." 

An Excerpt from Christopher Purdy, President of carafem

The Carafem brand guidelines explores edgy design, an uplifting tone of voice, and educational visual systems.

The Carafem brand guidelines explores edgy design, an uplifting tone of voice, and educational visual systems.

on a mission

Watching the carafem brand thrive over the last 5 years is equally as satisfying as knowing it has positively impacted those who need it most. In times of crisis, we often throw away sound advice. Building a brand that shows unapologetic support is powerful.

 

At the End of the day—carafem is built for women. true brand immersion continues to rest on who we are; thank you carafem for allowing me to understand who i am within the power & individuality of your brand.


 

 

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MILD
TO WILD

Mecha is built on geometry, light, and immersion. Conceptualized as a brand and product built around playful restraint—Mecha drips with thought, simplicity, and detail.

The print brand utilizes three brand colors; black, white, and red. These colors force historical restraint on a “brand of tomorrow.” Each brand I architect is unique to the client. My process follows principles within a predefined model I call “Mild to Wild.”

The juxtaposition of a strict print identity and a boundless immersive experience was introduced within the Wild option, for Mecha. Allowing the brand to feel established and strong helps reaffirm trust and vulnerability— two critical principles defined within Mecha’s experience. The game between restraint and flexibility is centered around you and your experience; from workout through social. Who we are, especially when shit gets real, is what defines our experience. 

+ Creative Direction, Communication Design, Strategy & Systems

 
 

COLOR DENSITY (oh snap)

+ WHY IS COLOR SO IMPORTANT?

 
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using color across all mediums

Starting each rebrand with a series of educational pitches, presentations and conversations—Mecha explored how color is used in film, animation, and storyboarding. These widely accepted mediums help garner trust through trusted color experiences.

Mecha Brand Strategy required elevated thinking and hands on results. Customers of Mecha are some of Boulder’s finest athletes—asking complex questions helps paint the cognitive simplicities of color, as a leading cast member.

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color STARTS WITH interaction

Color shifts in real-time help Mecha customers stay engaged with their classes, and selves. Carrying over the simplicity of color as a greater brand signifier allows Mecha to appeal to a wider subset of customers, while staying away from competing brands.  

Placing importance on interaction shows natural individualism. How we interact with change explores deeper strategies of how people deal with fear, direction and inner-strength. At Mecha—trainers and customers experience interaction collectively.

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color REFLECTS “the now”

Design is no-longer a static medium, it must change and grow with our brands, communities, and trust. Mecha proves the power of color as a guiding principle. Mecha’s continued success shows the power of change through simplicity.

Each space within Mecha feels valued. Peppermint vapor zings your nostrils upon entry, chilled eucalyptus towel after for a victory wipe down; Mecha’s spaces, products, and people reflect natural value, a critical attribute to color, community, and who we are.

 
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The Power of Smell

Smell is one of our strongest senses. It ties us back to specific moments in our lives, driving our decisions. At Mecha, we carefully chose the olfactory palette of each room based on the intensity of the workout. From grapefruit to peppermint—smell infuses each breath, transporting customers through a symphony of biological response; reminding customers why they are here shows curated intent. Post workout, customers receive a chilled eucalyptus towel; increasing brand notoriety down to the last wick of sweat.

 
“The most memorable thing for me at Mecha is smell. Smell transports me and gives me the power to finish a Mecha workout. To know that experience was designed absolutely blew my mind!”
— Richell Cripe, Mecha Customer

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things about watching brands grow is watching the brand systems I build, flourish. My goal within every brand I build is to walk away—Mecha was no exception. This brand, community, and company continues to thrive; made clear by this video. I haven’t worked with Mecha since inception in 2016. By design.

 

 

THE WHO THEORY AT PLAY

 
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Using texture and shape to compliment a companies aesthetic values

In 2016 I helped reposition the narrative values of Emerson Stone—a Boulder-based digital product firm nestled between a bagel shop and a laundromat. The Stone falls heavy at Emerson Stone. Andy (Stone), the Co-Founder, is fascinated with strict aesthetics. His designs are as tailored as his studio. This complimentary work navigated strict narratives and innovative aesthetics through the intersection of texture, shape, and play.

+ Art Direction, Illustration, Brand Strategy


 

Finding Noise

The illustrations for Emerson Stone incorporate various textures from around the office; meant to mimic noise, a popular application technique widely used in the digital illustration community.  Each textural element became a conceptual window into the systematic, yet strangely human process the Emerson Stone brand has become known for. I drew these illustrations from life—that is Andy Stone's wallet, his Bourbon and chair. The bitmap noise was created via scanned textural objects from the around our office. I found that the intersection of cowhide and concrete made for a desirable pixel noise. 

My time at Emerson Stone was capped by Play as a greater principle. I enjoy interjecting this contrasting philosophy into otherwise strict design, every day.

 
 
Pictured here was the team at the time. Andy curates finely tuned minds to build innovative and precise products, concepts, and experiences. His team is dedicated, and it shows. Photo © Emerson Stone.

Pictured here was the team at the time. Andy curates finely tuned minds to build innovative and precise products, concepts, and experiences. His team is dedicated, and it shows. Photo © Emerson Stone.


 

 INVESTING IN PASSION

 

In 2019, I was contacted by Sohlo— a Boulder-based firm who invests in businesses that care about how and why they do business. We went down numerous roads; ultimately finding our way within design simplicity and the narrative of a 1930’s French Riviera newspaper.

Freedom within brand building helps connect the dots between what’s possible, and what’s not needed. I had a lot of fun creating this brand for Lon, and Jim—two kind, and innovative Boulder leaders.



Thanks man!! So psyched about where we landed so thank you for that. So stoked to work with you!
— — JIM HEEKIN, CREATIVE DIRECTOR/COPYWRITER

 
 

PROCESS IS KING

 
 

Pictured above are paint swatches used to create negative space. I began asking bigger questions such as: how can negative space show positive brand aesthetics?

STARTING ABSTRACT

Typically, investment firms approach their brand aesthetics from a straightforward point of view. Lon McGowan is anything other than straightforward. His perspective and opinions on brand design are innovative, and inspiring. Lon started Sohlo to bring more human-nature to the companies they invest in.

My process mimics this understanding. Starting with process, I utilized my own background in traditional media to kick-start our thinking behind the Sohlo, 2019 rebrand.


Finding form

Shaking the cobwebs out within our design process allowed the rebrand to naturally evolve through multiple iterations of self. Sohlo proves what many brands often do, the first mark is the mark. While we ultimately changed the creative direction, the first lockup with a super fat sans serif, tightly kerned, gave us the desired Sohlo wordmark.


finding function

Pushing brands to see who they are requires hands-on approaches to who they are not. Mild to Wild is a pitch process I have been utilizing for years. This process revealed some pretty radical uses of traditional media, all of which help explore how ideas like texture, and space can impact the locality of a brand.

Pictured left, I took pictures of textures around a 1-block radius of Alpine Modern (to show proof of concept/origin), turned those pictures into bitmaps. These textures became the backdrop of this concept, re-introducing how local is felt, digitally. I further defined this concept, using the idea that texture can create actual location-based maps.

SO SIMPLE, ANYONE CAN
DO IT

 
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tools made for people

My work is built for people. Functionality defines form. There’s something so striking about a wordmark that could have been built by anyone. Simplicity, within design, is often overshadowed by custom everything. Why?

For each brand I design, I define a personal tagline. This helps me define the greater creative and art direction within a companies internal mission, vision, and values. It’s true, anyone could have made this…

Sohlo, “so simple, anyone can do it.”

A simple website, no frills. No bullshit. Just Sohlo. This is who we are, this is what we do.

I enjoy working with clients to ensure proper file handling outside of delivery. The idea of an interactive toolkit is something I have long-been designing. In the future, I’d like to make all of these elements downloadable via the web—today, these are highly-systemized layer within an Adobe Illustrator Document. Who we are matters.