There comes a time in a graphic designer’s life when they get asked what their dream projects would be. I will always have a preference for pretty projects but every now and then, I proclaim stuff like, “I want to brand an airline!” Then you can replace “airline” with “city” or “esoteric shop” or “school” depending on the mood you find me in.
Then last year I got the last one, a medical school to be exact. I was tasked to rebrand FEU-NRMF, Far Eastern University Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation.
For FEU-NRMF, they are coming from a rich history of medical education. They have been delivering quality education since 1971 and would like the new identity to communicate just that. We were in an interesting position because this was a family endeavor and it was the new generation that was approaching us. This meant that they also had the task of presenting and selling the work we do together to the patriarchs of FEU-NRMF.
To approach an older set of people with more conservative tastes and values, it was a good idea to study established educational leaders abroad and figure out how they did their own rebranding efforts. People with a more traditional leanings tend to trust more in strategies that have been tried and tested and are proven to be successes.
I gathered some schools and compiled a bunch of examples in a presentation. This way it’s communicating that we’ll be in step with what the big names are doing and the premise of the branding effort is to bring FEU-NRMF into the realm of schools with trusted names.
Johns Hopkins and University of Southern California (the rebranding was done by Pentagram) were just some of the examples I explored. I studied how they cascaded their identities to accommodate the schools under the main university, how the different name usages were executed, and how they branded the hospitals that were affiliated with the schools.
We subjected our clients to brand workshop sessions to build their identity platform. The process may change from client to client but the fundamentals will always be there: to figure out the visual driver and verbal driver so we can get the values and personality right.
For my first study, I was inspired by the imagery of classical academia. I wanted to use strong, imposing type and a distinct color palette. FEU-NRMF’s colors are green, black, and gold and I wanted to differentiate them from the old schools that are using green as their colors. For Study 1, I chose emerald green and created a straightforward seal that featured a caduceus and an oil lamp, the traditional symbols for medicine and nursing, respectively.
For every study, I also showed how to use the identity for the different schools and its hospital. The hospital had to be its own institution but it should be clear that it’s part of FEU-NRMF.
For Study 2, I took into consideration how the client said that the different schools had a lot of school pride and that whenever they had things like intramurals, they’d have a parade where each school holds up their banners. I ran with the shield imagery and figured out how I can make it richer in symbolism. I call Study 2 my “Harry Potter” study.
I went medieval on them and made their colors brighter. The idea was to go loud and proud with some fighting spirit. Then I made all the text in gold to emphasize elegance and excellence.
For Study 3, I went a more progressive route. I stuck to the traditional seal, but gave it an offbeat take with my color palette and type selection. I did away with serifs for this one and made the FEU-NRMF green a shade of fresh lime green. The message this study aimed to communicate is that FEU-NRMF is looking to the future, even as it’s rooted in the past. It communicates a message that its stockholders are investing in innovative methods and infrastructure.
Watch out for Part II where I discuss what direction they selected and how we developed the seal even further.
My good friend Bia Catbagan just premiered her labor of love, a short film called Letters to the Future. It’s a compilations of interviews with all sorts of twenty-somethings from Manila, ranging from blue collar service workers to young people working government.
It just premiered this week and I’m happy that a badge I designed for it is appearing in the promotional material. Bia wanted a look that was really millennial so I used Trend Sans, this friendly sans-serif font that totally encapsulates the millennial look.
Then these were the designs that didn’t make the cut:
There are still screenings this August 2, August 5, and August 9 at 8 pm at U-View, Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street at 8PM. For ticket reservations, text Apa at 0998-977-2027.
Dado and Pia liked elements from all the studies. To start off our next round of revisions, we took away three things that they liked — the two bar icon from study 1, the use of Helvetica from study 2, and the awesome shade of blue from study 3.
Between the two color palettes that made the final cut, the navy blue won out for how crisp, reliable, and strong it looked.
Only it doesn’t end there. Your Label wanted to make the bars look more distinct and liked what we did with the study 2 icon (where there was a pair of scissors embedded inside). We would’ve gone with the study 2 icon but the cousins thought the scissors was too specific of a key visual for a mother brand. We decided to keep it for another use.
The challenge was to figure out something neutral that we can embed in the same way within the two bars.
We opted to go with a monogram and insert a “Y” and an “L” in. The effect made it look like threads woven in together, which reinforced the value of client and supplier coming together and working together, not to mention the thread also symbolizes Your Label as a supplier for the garment industry.
From there we started cascading the logo to other materials. Spot their sub brands Your Fabric, Your Laundry, and Your ID featured in their sales kit!
See the scissors from the original study 2? We ended up using it for Your Fabric and we had to think of other icons for Your Laundry (a laundromat) and Your ID (a supplier for corporate materials). Because Dado and Pia pay special care to detail, we also had to make sure that the icons for the sub brands follow the two bars AND form the same “Y” from the mother logo.
Here is the Your Laundry logo in action for a discount tag.
I also created graphics for Your Laundry’s laundry guidelines.
Cousins Dado and Pia approached us to create a new brand for their family business. They own a corporate apparel company which designs, produces, and delivers the uniforms of some of the most recognizable brands in the country (Maybank, HSBC, Philippine Airlines, to name a few).
It was exciting to work with a company of this scale, and it’s one that happens to be a supplier so they speak with a similar vocabulary like us. What’s even more exciting is the fact that Dado and Pia are our age and it’s always interesting to see young blood take a family-owned business into a different direction.
Prior to this move, the company has been known as APL Corporate Garments. They still go by that as their official name but both cousins knew that as one of the newer players in the industry, they would have to employ moves that would pull them ahead of the competition.
They already had the right idea about professionalizing their sewers, account executives, down to their workshop. They’re also the first garment supplier to employ a tracking system similar to a courier service so clients can monitor the deliveries. Now the only thing missing is to have an identity system that would encapsulate it.
For this project, I pulled my sister Ana in to help us come up with a strategy for our design approach. We presented an 81-slide presentation, which included talk points such as this:
Dado and Pia already had an idea for the direction of APL and decided to give it the new name of Your Label. “Your Label” summons the idea of being able to customize things and be able to make it your own. The previous APL name didn’t have such a story (the name came from the initials of Dado’s sisters).
From there they intend to expand the business into other offerings using the new “Your” name. It makes for good recall.
Because they want to pioneer the business of being a garment supplier, they’re big with communicating the idea of clients being partners. They want to be able to walk the client through the process of conceptualizing uniform designs, start to finish — they envision themselves as brand aids, as another channel to showcase a company’s culture. We couldn’t agree more.
For my first study, I focused on the idea of suppliers and clients partnering together — about coming together as equals, as opposed to the standard relationship of employer to employee. Your Label wanted to create a culture of balanced partnership so I experimented with the equal symbol. I slanted it as well to make it seem like it’s moving fast, to show dynamism and quick turnarounds.
Then I showed it with a simple, clean san serif to highlight the icon. I’m also got into the habit of showing marks in black and white first so that the client can focus on the design and not select a study based on color.
With that in mind, I proposed owning vermilion as a color scheme for them. I thought orange was too friendly. I wanted friendly, but not too friendly, so a touch of red into the mix made it feel more alert and official. I made the “your” and “label” two different shades of gray to emphasize “your.” Instead of using the usual black, I opted for grays because it looked cleaner and more harmonious.
With all the studies, I also showed how the logo can work as a system with the rest of their sub brands. I wanted the palettes to be bright and distinctive.
Now we were originally just suppose to show two studies, but another idea came about while I was doing study 1. As a new option, I incorporated another icon within the bar icon. My sister and I decided to feature an icon that would make your think of garment making.
I thought of a scissors and I rendered it in such a way that you think of a “Y” in the first bar and then an “L” in the next.
For my type selection, I chose Helvetica Neue. I don’t use Helvetica a lot but I’m no hater. The reason why I don’t use it often is the same one as to why it would work so well for Your Label: ubiquity.
If you are a brand that wants to be synonymous to being everywhere and being part of the collective consciousness, then Helvetica is your best bet. It’s the font of super brands and there’s no denying its clear, strong readability.
For color, I remembered Pia mentioning that “pool water blue” is her favorite color. I decided to give it a shot since it made the icon look really fresh and new, which goes perfectly with Your Label’s personality as the new kid on the block.
My last study is all about using a button as my key visual (the cue coming from the idea of garment materials). The button imagery is rich in meaning because not only does it make use of a circle (unity, wholeness, oneness) but the holes in it provide a subtle narrative of keeping things together and embodying teamwork.
The holes form a “Y” to reinforce the “Your” brand.
Then I experimented with combining two different weights for the Futura I used. Then if the circle cue wasn’t obvious now, I tossed more of it into the logo. I figured it would make for an interesting key visual for merch.
As for colors, I honed into blue being known as a trustworthy color. Blue summons up feeling of security and reliability (that’s why a lot of banks, schools, and hospitals use it) and it would be great for enhancing Your Label’s professionalism.
I used this really attractive shade of navy blue and then complemented it with pops of jewel tones just so that it doesn’t look so stuffy.
Then finally, I placed the three logos together so Pia and Dado wouldn’t have to go back and forth.
Which one do you like?