Finding Fayette: In Search of a Visual Community Brand
September 27, 2017
Have you ever seen a Marvel movie? If you have, there’s a good chance it was shot in Fayetteville’s Pinewood Atlanta Studios. When I received a creative brief for Fayette County, Georgia, I knew we had an opportunity to do something interesting.
Through our research at DCI, spearheaded by Senior Vice President Dariel Curren, we discovered that Fayette was a county on the rise, not only for its innovative approach to supporting businesses, but also for its burgeoning film industry. The following are a few of the key areas we focused on when designing a brand for Fayette County, Georgia:
The Most Important Thing that isn’t The Most Important Thing…the Logo.
To quote DCI’s Vice President Susan Brake, “a logo is not your brand.” When designing a logo, it’s crucial not to think of it in terms of “what you see is what you get.” Thinking about context is key. A seemingly simple logo can be utterly transformed by a well-thought-out visual system.
With Fayette, we wanted to make a mark that would impress upon the viewer the marriage of the creative industry and the small- town, easy-living culture of the region. While we explored several paths, a number of core elements kept resurfacing until we arrived at the final result.
These elements included:
- Relief style sans-serif header font that conveys a classic quality.
- Contrasting tagline font that injects a playful and creative energy.
- Banded emblem harkening back to early 20th century commercial Americana.
Being Colorful: The Palette
Selecting the right set of colors can be one of the most important aspects of a brand. Not only can color instantly pique the viewer’s interest, it can also engage their imagination and help shape a brand’s voice.
Since the Fayette emblem consists of so many classic elements, color seemed like the right place to infuse a modern touch. This is where context, as mentioned earlier, starts to come into play. Navy and white might be what the logo itself is comprised of, but a large percentage of the time the logo will be viewed in a sea of teal that helps to achieves our goal of combining the aesthetics of the creative industry and small-town living.
With the secondary colors, my aim was to let Fayette have its cake and eat it too. I provided them with a range of both warm and cool colors that could sit well both with the logo and each other. This way, they could shift toward warm or cool colors based on the demands of a variety of campaigns. This sort of approach, when viable, can help a brand weather shifting trends.
To the Letter: The Challenges of Font Selection
The objective for this brand was to select fonts that were modern, while still conveying a sense of warmth and openness. One of the ways we struck this balance was by pairing the simple and modern Open Sans sans serif font for headlines with the warmer serif font Libre Baskerville for the body copy. This contrast echoes the contrast present in the logo fonts and helps to add brand coherence.
Another critical element of font selection and application is making sure that the font adds clarity to the visual hierarchy of brand. To achieve this, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Let Your Logo Font Shine. If you have a distinctive font in your logo, refrain from using it in regular headings and body copy. Your logo should shine and you don’t want less important text competing with its uniqueness.
- Use Simple Fonts with Bright Colors. If you have vibrant colors, select simple, no-nonsense header fonts. If you use ornate fonts with light colors, it will likely make the text difficult to read. This was particularly important with Fayette’s teal headers.
- Legibility, Legibility, Legibility. Gorgeous fonts are no use if they don’t communicate what you are trying to say. We wrestled with this in earlier versions of the Fayette emblems when selecting the script font.
Seeing the Forest for the Trees
For the successful creation of an effective brand, it’s important not to become too married to any specific aspects of a design. The brand design process can often be quite non-linear, because as mock-ups and templates are created, both new creative problems and solutions reveal themselves. A good designer and client will see the benefit of revising previous rules or design aspects to enhance the strength of the brand.