❒ identity, print, web, motion
Branding and web design for our very own practice.
Because fuck nazis.
I — Backstory
Before November 2018, I’d never really had a solid formal identity as a graphic designer. I had burned through 4/5 portfolio designs. The typefaces I used on the wordmark and on printed stuff changed as the google fonts I used in the website changed.
Everything was in flux but for one thing. The only element of my visual identity that had remained unaltered was the mark I’d designed a couple of years ago and which never really changed. An angled, geometric, minimalist, symmetric monogram¹ of my initials: RS. That is until I found out that it was basically an upside down version² of one of the most used nazi symbols after the swastika.
It turns out that the symbol is an ancient german/saxon rune, which was adopted by the nazis and then by neo-nazi and fascist groups hence after. In retrospect it is fairly obvious that such an essential and simple shape would’ve had some history as a symbol, and it did. As a grapheme for thousands of years, then as a nazi insignia and right up to the neonazis in the US «replacing the swastika with it to go more mainstream»³.
I was mad. I hate hate. I hate f*cking fascists. And I needed a new logo.
II — Smile, You’re Being Designed
A couple of weeks before finding out about all this I had been designing a series of small self promotional gifs called OPEN 4 BIZ⁴. One of them had some colorful smiles paired with a bolder weight of the recently acquired Neue Haas Unica. When thinking about the new identity, it occurred to me that the smile would be a good symbolic antithesis to all the hate and the nazis and all the mean ugly shit going on in the world.
We adopted the smile as a symbol of kindness, compassion, goodwill, love, and openness, but also as a representation of what design essentially means to us: happiness and fun.
III — A Gradient is just a color on it's way
Since I came up with the quip about gradients being just colours on their way I started to look at them as powerful visual metaphors for movement. That is the post-rationalization that I’ve arrived at after intuitively filling my anti-nazi flower-power smiley mark with bright two-color gradients.
IV — The Smile is the message
And we got to thinking: what if your smile acted like a canvas for ideas, visuals, styles, homages, whatever? A window to anything that makes us smile and a chance to inject the identity with some real-life-sh*t™.