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Evolution of a brand with Brian Steely [Q&A]

July 2023

Evolution of a brand with Brian Steely [Q&A]

As we mark 28 years as an agency, Jackson Spalding (JS) remains humble and hungry – focused on serving our clients and relentlessly making their mission our mission. How we go about that has evolved tremendously as we look for the better way each day, signaling it’s time our brand did some evolving, too. Brian Steely, founder of JS design studio, Steely Works, who designed the new JS logo, takes us behind the scenes of refreshing the brand for his agency home of 26 years.

Refreshing a Brand’s Identity 

Q: How can a brand determine when it’s time for an identify refresh?   

A: Numerous reasons, but mainly the following: when it has a dated look and feel and when it no longer feels in line with the personality of the brand or direction of the company. 

Q: Should a brand plan to refresh their logo or identify after a certain number of years, or should the decision be more reflective of the organization’s growth or evolving purpose and mission?  

A: I think it should be more reflective of the organization’s growth or evolving purpose and mission.  

Q: Do you draw a distinction between a logo refresh and an identify refresh? Or are they one and the same?  

A: A logo refresh is simply just refreshing the logo whereas an identity refresh takes the whole visual brand into account.  

Q: What type of research or discovery work needs to happen prior to the creative phase of rebranding? (JS Excavation? Story mining? Mood boards?)  

A: It’s very helpful to have all three when searching for the perfect solution for the rebrand. It also depends on the size of the brand – sometimes this research/discovery is simply not needed to create a brand in its infancy. I prefer to have mood boards at the very least, though.  

Q: When a brand’s logo changes, what else has to change that’s more involved?  

A: The entire visual ID of the brand should change. By changing it all, you start to build a much stronger brand instantly, preventing confusion with your audience and beginning to build equity across all your brand touchpoints.  

Q: What’s the most important thing you try to achieve when designing a new logo? Versatility, longevity, impact?   

A: I try to create something that is memorable and at the same time truly expresses the current state of the client’s brand. If you do those two things, versatility, longevity and impact will be the inevitable result.  

Q: Turning to the JS rebrand, it’s not just the logo that’s different, the colors are, too. What’s your approach to identifying a new color palette for a brand?  

A: For the JS rebrand, we wanted colors that would reflect our inclusive nature. Our previous colors felt dated, but we did not entirely abandon them, we simply enriched them by creating a larger and more versatile creative palette. 

Q: What was the original inspiration for JS’ new logo design? Was there an “aha” moment or was the process more gradual?  

A It’s funny; we created A LOT of logos, but this was the first one I sketched on paper. I think it tells the relational story of our agency quickly and minimally. J and S, co-founders Glen Jackson and Bo Spalding, people working together, collaboration, relationship and performance.  

Q: There are meanings behind the two circles and the center brushstroke. What are a few of them?  

A: I look at the two circles as Bo and Glen. They could be any two people collaborating, which is so important in our agency. It also has a yin and yang quality to it, which represent duality – or the idea that two opposite characteristics can exist in harmony and complement each other. It’s a meaningful relationship. 

Q: In one word, what does the new JS logo represent to you?  

A: Relationship. 

[It’s worth noting that Jackson Spalding’s stated purpose is: to cultivate meaningful relationships rooted in mutual respect.] 

Q: Is there anything else we should know about the JS rebrand?  

A: It’s important to look past the minimal nature of the logo to the thought that went into it. I truly believe that minimal logos are the hardest to create – by telling a story with less information, that information has to be precise. Its minimal nature allows the logo to be memorable, helps it stand up against the challenges of time and makes it easy to reproduce in any medium.  

Creative Design Agency in Atlanta, Dallas & Los Angeles 

If you feel it’s time for a visual change or want to dive deep into your brand’s messaging and story, Jackson Spalding is here to help.