Redesigning a Brand 100 Years in the Making
Bringing a fresh look to a 100 year old brand is no easy task. When a brand has been alive for an entire century, we as creatives must consider all the experiences that have formed, shaped, tested and enabled the organization to grow, thrive, and survive. Having the opportunity to touch any aspect of an established brand’s visual representation can be a sacred matter.
After completing a successful centennial campaign in 2015, the Minneapolis Foundation (one of the oldest community foundations in the nation) was ready to face the next 100 years with an updated look.
The Foundation’s existing logo was designed in the 90’s and represented the community’s need for business leaders, donors and organizers to think, act and work together. The brand identity was reminiscent of the Minneapolis skyline – represented by three carefully arranged squares next to the name. A simple “M” graphic (coined the “river graphic”) represented the Mississippi river and moved through the blocks. The name was set in classic Garamond font – echoing the long traditions of giving, community involvement and institutional prestige.
When we began working on the identity design we asked ourselves – where do we start? What elements and what tone could bring the brand across the doorstep and into the 21st century? How do we retain the history, while creating a contemporary representation of the future?
The client request was to brighten the brand and make use of the circle element that we created for their Centennial year. During the evaluation stage of the design process, we noted that the secondary brand element of the “M” river graphic had been utilized inconsistently over the last few decades. During the Centennial campaign we re-envisioned the “M” into a cluster of circles of various sizes and colors giving them a meaning to represent the diverse community of people and organizations who work with the foundation to make Minneapolis a better place for all. The Centennial campaign concept, which led to the graphic execution of the circles, was inspired by a simple premise – 100 starts with 1 – 1 person, 1 idea, 1 passion, 1 donor, 1 organization, 1 community, 1 foundation.
When presented with a rebranding opportunity, designers are often tempted to ignore the past and feed the desire to make their own mark by going for a completely new look. In our case, the strong history of the foundation meant that certain aspects needed to be carried through. Preserving the timeless power of Garamond and maintaining the unifying element of the organic “M“ swoosh were the guidelines that controlled the expansion of the brand in its new direction.
A new color palette with more pure, vibrant and positive colors was brought in to express the energetic outlook of the organization’s vision and approach to communication in all of their activities – online and off.
The mark was transformed from the original downtown institutional appeal of the three blocks to a simple circle. “Eliminating the blocks eliminated hard boundaries and created a more inclusive feel,” said Teresa Morrow, VP of External Relations at the Foundation. The idea behind the new mark was in the circle’s power to unify and represent every single member of the community. One Minneapolis for all by all was the design theme we chose – a vibrant red mark with the M passing through it like the heartbeat of the community. The new look allowed the brand to be representative of every individual, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender or economic status. It also allowed us to show how every neighborhood and organization that works with the foundation plays a role in making Minneapolis a forward-thinking, diverse community that we are all proud to live in.
For our creative team it was important to work from a place of respect. It was key that we not only understood the client’s needs and aspirations, but also who they are trying to reach. A logo design is meant to represent a brand in a functional, business manner and provide the aspirational attributes, which allow it to communicate. Our main goal was to energize and solidify a 100 year old foundation as a past, present and future leader who can work to bring people, ideas and resources together into a new era of inclusion, equity and community.
Check out their site and learn more about this great organization that we are lucky to have as a client.