Earlier in the year, I had an amazing opportunity to work with a firm I’ve admired for quite some time. They really appeal to the random hilarious side of me (a special place in my fancy designer heart), and I have loved them ever since this ridiculously perfect commercial found its way into my life.
It’s amazing. Take the time to change your life forever.
Luckily, I’ve got great friends around me because one of them recommended me to the CD, and shortly after, he was contacting me for this sweet little branding project. I love branding, and it’s always such a treat to get to chew on a problem that I haven’t ever worked on before. This project I did with the Wex team was very much that: a complete breath-of-fresh-air experience.
Working comfortably in the beauty/lifestyle/artist space for so many years, I never really thought of myself as a designer who could handle EVERY type of project– but boy would I love it. Working on this project showed me that a solid problem-solving process can help you no matter what the industry. High 5 Jenny, indeed.
I think I might be even more proud of this work because it’s within an industry I never thought I’d tackle. Banks are definitely new territory, but one I feel pretty confident coming back to. I don’t think I can say it any better than design sumoweight Massimo Vignelli in his beautiful truism “If you can design one thing, you can design everything,”
I thought I’d talk through some of the process for the work, as I really loved the research stage of this project. The rules were a little strict as the internal Wex team were already quite a few rounds in. They contacted me because they needed as many ideas as possible, which might be one of my god-given birth right specialties.
Ideas, they just come to me.
They wanted a happy, cheerful, neighborhood feel– but no bank clichés whatsoever. No streets, no fences, no shaking hands and smiling faces– but the FEELING of white picket fences, hands being shaken, and happy, smiling, neighborly faces. Ah, the glorious challenges of branding.
My gut instantly told me to work with ‘gestalt’ logos, where emotions and concepts are bridged within the meaning/typography of the logo. It’s probably one of the hardest things to master, but makes such a stellar logo. The message is instantly recognizable, making it impossible to “reinvent the wheel”. It’s the ever elusive ‘once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it’ sort of work.
The juxtaposition here was the connectedness of a small community with the professionalism of a solid bank. There were a couple of broad stroke directions to try at first, but I really felt the approach needed to be bridged across 2 or 3 concepts in little bits, most of which you can see collected through this inspiration board.
The playful/welcoming tone needed to be grounded by a professional/classy tone, which is where that sexy Solberg&Hansen logo comes in (love it, just. love. it.) “Somewhere, between the corner of Happy Quote, Solberg&Hanson, helium, & Fido lies the logo for Homestreet” said my gut. “Okay! We hear you!” Said my fingers and Wacom pen, respectively. And we all set out to work in agreeance with each other.
My second exploratory direction in the ‘first stab’ set were more professional in tone, just using a clean serif and a cityscape encased within the H’s cross bar.
Since “streets” and “fences” (signifying homes/neighborhoods) were out, I needed a way to visually convey that tone w/o really breaking the rules. I used the vertical lines as a structure and manipulated the cross bar of the H with curves, signifying ‘street’. By creating a little cityscape to convey the neighborhood, I attempted a ‘close to the city but still small town’ feel.
Whenever I noodle around in a concept for more than 30 minutes, I will undoubtedly create new avenues to explore, both visually and conceptually. It’s as much of a ‘doing’ process as it is a ‘discovery/exploratory process’; for me they are one in the same.
While noodling along with cityscapes in H’s, I thought it could be cool to marry the word bubble/quotation mark note from the original idea with the cityscape idea, and traveled down that road for a while.
I really like how it started to FEEL like a bank’s flag. Even though I’d never seen a Homestreet Bank, I could imagine driving down (a) downtown, seeing this logo on a flag marker for a busy city’s brownstone filled streets. I’ve got a great imagination, what can I say.
I ended up handing over the concept et. all to the internal Wex team, but I loved the opportunity to chew out such an interesting problem. It’s not everyday you need to portray a warm, welcoming but still professional and trustworthy visual solution for a corporate bank account, but those opportunities are absolutely gifts when you get to work with such a great team. Check out their work and definitely keep your eye out on them. I’m sure you’ll be hearing about them again and again.