Creating A Design Language
Greetings and thank you for giving me some of your time to give this blog a read! My name is Christian White and this is my very first time posting a blog on our website. I am one of the four co-founders of Owyls. I currently serve as our Chief Sales & Brand Officer (I’m still unsure how I feel about being an “officer” it just sounds weird to me) and Creative Director. Basically to spare you a ton of wordy elaboration it’s my duty to make us look good. I have a very extensive background in the world of design and any project that I take on I do so with the utmost focus and attention to detail. I want to take a few moments to focus on that word: Design. Design, by it’s very definition, is the planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object. When you hear the word design the first thought that comes to mind is of course the aesthetics. We all want design that looks great and makes a brand eye catching, flashy, and representative of the purpose they serve. Naturally, that should be the intention and goal of anyone designing something is to create something that’s attractive to the viewer of course. When I began this project, which though it feels like I’ve been working on this forever is still in it’s infancy; I did so with a greater intention than crafting something that simply looks good. I’ve always strived to go beyond creating something just for the sake of creating. And there’s lots of labels out there these days for the current trends in designs like: “It’s sleek, it’s modern, it’s minimal” etc. and don’t get me wrong I think that all of those are great. But my intention here is for our design to exude what we strive to accomplish as a company. I believe that design, which in my opinion is the single most important priority for any brand, should personify the qualities of your brands’ purpose.
That leads me into the next part of this article which if you’re not familiar with us please allow me to get you up to speed. Some of you are probably wondering: “Okay this all sounds great, and deep, and stuff…but what is Owyls? What’s up with the weird spelling? Is it still pronounced like the bird?” To answer the most frequent of those questions yes it’s pronounced just like owls and the “y” is silent but it holds a purpose. I’m going to touch base on all of those questions, but I’m going to take on the first question of explaining what Owyls is. Because honestly whenever I am asked what exactly it is that we do or in particular what my job entails, sometimes there’s a brief pause that exists between me and the asker. I stop to always consider the audience that I am answering because more often than not I wonder: “Will they think that I’m vain if I sit and elaborate on how great we are or worse think I’m a typical sales person? Am I going to successfully get the point across of how we strive to better both the knowledge and convenience of technology for our clients?” So because I have to be respectful of peoples time and because there’s not always a chair to pull up for someone to get comfy, I will review a few of the core services that we provide and close the conversation with something along the lines of: “We’re a technology and media company with a wide portfolio of services for homes and businesses and providers of media digest content online”. And that is the short answer. So I feel an obligation that the representation of our brand must embody that passion when you only have time for selective wording vs. everything that you wish you could say. Your brand should give your audience a positive first impression so that they want to delve deeper into the premise. At Owyls we deliver the very best of technology and make it more approachable for all. Rather than using lofty words like goals, striving, etc we make it simple for our clients and do what we promise to do. The team at Owyls are confident, intelligent, precise, and friendly people there to answer all of your “why?”, or as it’s displayed in our name: “y”, questions toward technology. Owyls is an acronym we came up with that stands for “Our Wisdom, Your Life, Smarter”.
So now that I’ve gotten you a little more familiar with what Owyls is, I’d like for you to take a stroll down the road so far with our branding. Like most companies making a final decision on how to perfectly display yourself is an extremely difficult task. It’s next to near impossible for you to leave it up to solely your design to define you and if you’re like myself you never know when to say that you’re really finished with a project. I’m probably more obsessive over the unnoticed details than most so please excuse me if at any point I obsess over something that at the end of the day to most serves no purpose. To myself, every single detail no matter how minute it may seem caters to the final product which in my opinion gives it a great purpose. But before I get too deep into our new design philosophy allow me show you our very first (BTW for all images if you want a closer look at them just click on each):
We made the decision to use a barn owl for a few reasons. First off, most logo’s that use owls tend to use your standard horned owl as the subject matter. I felt very fond of the barn owl because of it’s heart shaped face and overall simplistic beauty. I’ve always had a strong belief that whatever it is you decide to do in life to make sure that it’s done with love. I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate representation of that love than a heart being very subliminally hidden within our mascot. My partners supported the direction behind the decision and we’ve used a barn owl since. This logo was outsourced through a very talented graphic designer that we stumbled upon and served it’s purpose for quite a while. At that time my hands were buried deep in other avenues of our company’s start up so I could not contribute my full focus or time on that logo. Even though I had much input on how it turned out I always felt like there was something missing from it. It’s a clean and simple logo but I didn’t feel that it represented our brand properly. And “Whoo You Can Turn To”… maybe not the best idea that I’ve contributed! Some time after I decided to take it upon myself to set aside the time to work on a new logo that represented our desires of striving toward perfection. I know that nothing is perfect but the effort to always want to be better is the perfect attitude. When I thought on that concept and how that could tie directly back to design I immediately thought of a circle. Circles commonly represent unity, wholeness, and infinity. Without beginning or end, without sides or corners, the circle is also associated with a sense of precision and perfection. I gravitated toward that and began to research and build upon the concept of a logo with a composition made completely out of circles. I found that many of the most popular and widely recognizable companies out there used circle construction for their logos as well, but very mildly. So after countless hours of research, the input of my partners, and all of us tossing around ideas of how exactly we wanted to be represented I came up with the following:
We’ve gotten so many compliments on this logo and I’m delighted that the reception has been so positive. It’s a clean, simple yet strong logo that we’ve been very proud of. We’ve used this current logo for almost two years now and in that time I’ve continued researching ways to refine it even further than it is now. I wanted us to not just retain the current qualities of our logo but elevate those details to a new level of polish and perfection. To do that I did some very heavy research on a design grid system called the Golden Ratio. In the world of art, architecture, and design, the Golden Ratio has earned a tremendous reputation. To spare you a bunch of elaborate mathematical explanation the Golden Ratio is used for it’s “divine proportion” and in theory accomplish the closest that the human eye can perceive perfect ratios. That being said the Golden Ratio was used along with the circle construction to achieve this guy:
You’ll notice that yellow grid system front and center. I’m sure that some of you are saying “It looks really close to the last one” and you’d be mostly correct with that conclusion. The idea here was not to re-invent, but re-define a logo that we were already quite pleased with. What we end up with now is a logo that’s construction is more logically laid out, exceedingly more proportionate, and above all much more graceful and elegant. The next step in the project was to repeat this same level of detail in the new typography. Literally each and every character found on a standard keyboard all designed with the same intention and refinement as the new logo. So lots of coffee and hours of frustration later and this was the result:
We call the new typeface “Owyls Symmetry” and we’re quite proud of it. When you look at the guidelines you’ll notice that each character is constructed using a very precise placement of circles. Once the placement is set each character goes into a standard gridline placement along with a second look over using that same Golden Ratio grid system. The result is a typeface that is not only aesthetically pleasing but because of its circular nature scales efficiently for maximum legibility at all sizes.
With this latest rendition of our logo we wanted to accept nothing but the absolute best of ourselves. I wanted to craft branding that highlights confidence, intelligence, precision, and friendliness just like us and I do believe that we’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. It’s makes me so proud to finally show of our latest version of an already beautiful logo:
I could not be more happy with the results. Since the beginning of trying to conceptualize our brand almost 3 years ago I finally feel like our logo feels complete. But of course this is only the beginning of the creation of a design language. The intention is to have a design philosophy that speaks to the viewer where each design element that you see from us will have the same level of polish and refinement as the next. A design family that keeps the same level of consistency throughout and is automatically recognizable as Owyls design. I want to express my gratitude to everyone that’s put input and time into this project. It’s taken a ton of effort to get to this point and we have quite the workload ahead of us. In the coming weeks and months be on the lookout for a complete refresh of all of our current branding materials and digital advertisement along with a brand new website built from the ground up. I can’t wait to show off everything that we create and I hope that everyone enjoys it as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it. Thank you so much for giving this a read and please feel free to drop some feedback my way at [email protected]. And as always if you’re in need of anything that involves technology you can count on Owyls to elevate what’s possible. Thanks!