NCCC, part 1: awesome design brief

My former coworker Rusty Talbot left the web industry recently to pursue a dream – opening a climbing gym in the beautiful hills of New Hampshire. He came to me after his artist was unable to complete the branding project to see if I could take it over. Rusty sent me one of the best, detailed briefs I’ve ever received from a client:

The logo files from the former designer: (The one on the left was the latest iteration)
NCCC original logo

  • What I want to evoke:
    • This is an indoor climbing gym but I wanted to connect with some visual imagery that reflects the location – northern New Hampshire. This is why we included the distant mountains and trees and so forth in the lower right corner
    • I want to make clear that this is about rock climbing – so that’s why we have the silhouette of the climber on a steep rock face
    • If possible, it would be cool to evoke an image related to the gym itself. I don’t think that the logo we were working with actually did this, but I’m attaching a photo showing a small part of the gym as it is being built. I think it is a cool looking feature like the prow of a ship. If you can think of a cool way to incorporate something that evokes this look into the logo, that could be really excellent
      Wall shape
  • What I think of the current elements in the logo:
    • I really like what’s in the lower right corner:
      • The snowy mountains and the trees.
      • If you look closely you’ll even see a version of the NH state symbol – the “old man of the mountain” that was part of a local cliff until it collapsed in 2003 (it’s still the state symbol even though it doesn’t exist in nature anymore, however!).
      • The other side of the mountain that has the old man on it has a ski area, so we represented that with the little ski slope curving down the mountain on the right.
    • I think that the climber and the overhanging wall is ok – and it is nicely evocative of rock climbing in a gym
      • Please note that I’m not that attached to the climber or his/her body position. It’s not as crisp as I think I’d like it to ideally look.
      • Also, I’m not super attached to the way the cliff face looks. It sort of looks like a blob. As noted above, I’d be more psyched to evoke an element of my gym like the prow in the attached picture
    • We toyed with different shapes and sort of honed in on a circular design.
      • If it wasn’t an attached circle, it looked like a monster eating a climber
      • If it was an oval it looked a lot like an eye (especially if the cliff face was a bit steeper and more like a horizontal roof)
      • The shape of the cliff in the larger file was sort of blah so we were moving toward a cleaner circle-style. She hadn’t gotten around to cleaning up the cliff to make it flow smoothly into the circle, however.
    • We toyed with including the wording or lettering in the logo and it didn’t feel like it worked
      • We tried both w letters in the cliff like in the larger file as well as with the words going around it in a circle (“North Country” on top, “Climbing Center” on the bottom)
      • I think that I’ll just want to have the words “North Country Climbing Center” next to the logo or below it or not all depending on the context.
    • Colors
      • I’d like to include color in my brand – but I don’t know how to incorporate colors in the logo (if at all)
      • The walls are going to be a mix of deep blue, brick red, and off white (it’ll actually be light granite). We need to be careful to keep this from looking like an American flag, however!
  • Uses – what I plan to use the logo for:
    •  Signage
      • An interior sign above the main entrance / desk
      • Maybe painted on one of the walls if it makes sense…
      • One big sign out in front of the building (this is the only expensive, hard to change thing that I’ll use the logo for)
    • Website
    • Facebook page
    • Business cards
    • “coming soon” promotional posters
    • Brochures
    • Tee shirts
    • Hats

Note that I’m using the catch-phrase of “live free and climb” (a play on the NH motto of “live free or die”).

Thank you so much for being willing to assist with this. While I do like the direction [former designer] was going in, I’m totally open to your awesome creative ideas.

Rusty was detailed and organized in sharing his thoughts about the existing logo design and what he wanted.

  • Bulleted lists are always helpful to break things down!
  • Rusty gave me some bigger picture branding requirements, explaining his desire to integrate “New Hampshire” and “rock climbing” into the logo.
  • He was extremely detailed with what he liked and didn’t like about the logo, and explained their design process so that I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel by trying things that didn’t work the first time around
  • He included all the potential uses that he would need for the logo, which helped to give me an idea of the level of detail (or simplification) that might be needed
  • And of course, he implied that my ideas would be “awesome” and “creative.” Flattery never hurts!

Next: I start sketching.

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