Branding Project Overview
Christian Gausvik, M.D. reached out to us to help him build a foundation. For several years he had been hosting local Cincinnati charity events for Alzheimer’s with his husband, Cody Gausvik, and they were growing very quickly. So they wanted to develop their own foundation from the ground up that they could funnel all of their hard work into and make a direct impact locally.Â
My wife, Gulin, and I went over to their house to having a naming party for the foundation and learn more about their story.Â This turned out to be the exact kind of local partnership we both wanted to be a part of. It was and continues to be an absolute perfect fit for our small family ran companies.Â
In November 2019, Christian began developing a logo with a volunteer that was wanting to build their portfolio & experience. So they were gracious enough to do it for free to help support what he was trying to do. When you’re creating an organization from the ground up there are always extreme budget restraints — so I’m always an advocate for doing things cheaply, and I also love helping people gain real-world experience. Of course, in an ideal world I always hope that clients can afford to pay me to do high quality work, but the consultant in me will always prefer pulling off project work that matches any budget constraints you may have.
The challenge we had in pursuing this as an option for getting the logo done is it’s one of those scenarios where you, “get what you pay for.” When you have an inexperienced designer taking a crack at something that needs to be an original piece of art you’re not going to be satisfied with the result in a short period of time.Â
Behind the scenes I was building the Giving Voice Foundation’s website, but was waiting on the new logo to be finalized by Christian and the volunteer designer. Christian shared with me the experience he was having with the volunteer and how their designs just weren’t hitting the mark.Â
Under more relaxed circumstances, we could have made things work with the volunteer, but we were running out of time on having a logo / fonts / color themes ready for the new website that would launch Feb. 1, 2020. As a result, I went ahead and began designing Giving Voice’s logo and brand guidelines with the intention of winning Christian over with the initial round of concepts.
Normally, I don’t move forward with designing a logo for a client without a payment agreement up front, but under the circumstances we needed to move forward with something. I also couldn’t advise Christian to go with a make-shift placeholder logo, fonts, and colors we’d likely end up changing on the day we launched the brand new website.Â
Themes we were basing the initial round of concepts on:Â
- Bronze + Teal or Blue + Teal Colorings
- Thin fonts
- Ginkgo Leaf / TreeÂ
- Giving Voice Foundation all spelled out
- GV as an icon
- Mixture of the two
The foundation is built around the mission that they’re wanting to bring intellectual cross generational conversations together at local events to bring awareness to issues facing seniors and their caretakers in the Cincinnati community. The original idea of the foundation was inspired by Christian seeing his Alzheimer’s patients lose the story and experiences they had built up over their lifetime to the disease.Â
The Ginkgo leaf is often an herb used in helping with memory loss and is also the oldest species of tree that exists in the world. So it felt right to go in that direction with it as the icon for the foundation.
Since Christian’s foundation is built around the community of people that attend his events it was important that we created a mechanism to get feedback from everyone involved, but do it in a way so it’d lead to a productive result.
So we asked Christian to provide us with his initial unfiltered feedback on the first round of concepts, and then gather feedback from his family & friends. After doing that, we again wanted his overall thoughts and impressions from the process.
- Fonts needed to be thinner and cleaner looking.
- Clean looking was a keyword.
- Could the leaf in some of the concepts be more “brain” looking?
- Blues were definitely the fan favorite for color themes.
- Not 100% in love with anything yet.
I felt there was something in the idea of combining aspects of the more complex “leaf” concept and make it look like a brain. Then from there, you could make the brain look a bit like a speech or thought bubble. That could then represent the “intellectual discussions” they were inspiring at their events.Â
There are busier leaf concepts, but the ones that really stuck out where the clean brain + leaf + speech bubble icons towards the end.Â
When I sent this round off to them it was love at first sight. The moment every designer looks forward to. =)
Deciding Colors, Fonts, & Social Icons
This last little batch was used to finalize the colors, give an understanding of the font pairing, and see what the social icons would end up looking like.
The mixture of blues/teals ended up being the winner, but it was fun for the GVF team to consider the other two.
Final Master Branding Guidelines
These images are the master branding guidelines provided (via PDF & Adobe file) after everything was finalized. Master Branding Guidelines work as a great reference tool when working with 3rd party vendors, merch creators, other designers, and later for employees as the Giving Voice Foundation grows.