Recently I was tasked with the rebranding of UC Irvine Baseball’s fan/marketing group, the Diamond Darlings. The Diamond Darlings, traditionally comprised of baseball players’ girlfriends, would make the team pregame goodies and attend every home game – sometimes being the only real support the team had at games.

Over the years, the group expanded its role from watching and cheering the team, to support the in-game marketing efforts of UC Irvine Athletics at baseball games. The girls found themselves going from making pre-game treats to running on-field promotions.

As the in-game promotional roles of the group increased, it’s number of members did the exact opposite. The group struggled in recent years to recruit members – mainly due to the new responsibilities and its traditional positioning as players’ girlfriends.

This led the current members to want to 1. Expand its member base, 2. Open up the opportunity for a co-ed squad, and 3. Turn the Diamond Darlings into a more professional, resume building experience for its members (due to the new, increasing marketing roles).

When the group brought this idea to the marketing director for UC Irvine’s baseball program, the director came to me and asked for help to reposition and rebrand the Diamond Darlings. She wanted a name and logo concept that was more inclusive and allowed for a co-ed opportunity, along with creating a sense of professionalism to help with member’s resume.

Thus being said, my first mission was to develop a new logo. After playing around with multiple ideas (you can see the original concepting by following this thread), this is what I came up with:

Diamond Crew Logo

I settled on using a traditional baseball diamond, allowing the group to keep the “Diamond” portion of the group’s name – in hopes of keeping recognizability. The goal behind the “Crew” portion of the name was designed to make the group sound more gender inclusive. The logo as a whole was made to stick to a centralized baseball theme.

I knew the font had to be attractive to guys, but also to girls since the group was still mainly female heavy. I used the font “Agency FB” since it has an adventurous flavor, mixed with a vibe of athleticism, and is appealing to both sexes. By bending the font upward and downward for its relative placing, I gave the logo a sneakily circular shape, making it easily transferable onto baseball traditional items such as sleeve patches and hats.

The next task was to reshape the social media appearance. Using the logo above, we had to first revamp the group’s Facebook page. Our main mission, was to make the Diamond Crew’s new online appearance seem more professionally built, and establish resume building credibility to the organization.

We first took advantage of the long off-season of college baseball and slowly eliminated old images with text on them (anything that looked like it had been done by a fan page). Eliminating such traces of the group’s non-professional looking past was a key role for establishing future credibility of the group. Below are the final results:

Diamon Crew

DC

Shortly after the rebranding period, baseball season was less than a week away. This gave the Diamond Crew a very tight recruiting deadline. After a one campus email blast, the Diamond Crew had immediate interest. What was most noticeable about this instant interest, most of its applicants were males, yet there was still a decent amount of females who had applied.

The Diamond Crew considered this a large success for its organization and looks forward to seeing its growth play out this season, along with building members’ resumes in a legitimate manner – especially since it is no longer going to be categorized as “baseball players’ girlfriends.”

After working in the Hispanic advertising agency Gallegos United for six months as a freelance presentation designer, I discovered that one of the most important professional resume pieces is your “Book”. Every designer knows what your “Book” is.

For my readers who are outside of the advertising world, your “Book” is your 30-second elevator pitch and what can win you a job in the ad industry. A strong, solid Book will get you recognized by showcasing your abilities.

While working at GU, the main question I would often ask myself (and the brilliant/experienced professionals I was surrounded by) was what should I put in my Book? I have a lot of good work I want to showcase, but if an employer is only going to look at my Book for a quick 30 seconds (and that’s a maybe), how can I get all of my best pieces into it?

After asking around, and seeing what other people had done with their Books, the obvious answer was quality over quantity. One co-worker told me that you should never have more than ten pieces in your Book. He said to just put in your ten best pieces of work – one for each aspect of a media source you are strong in – only if you want to be flashy. He elaborated on how consistency is key, as is showing you have a speciality media. If you’re good at creating social media posts, wow the employer with social media-esque posts. If you’re good with print work, show them your best print campaign.

With these tips in mind while preparing for my departure from Gallegos United, I realized I needed to strengthen my Book and play to what employers might want to see. I found a job opening for a graphic design position with UC Irvine Athletics, so I figured I would showcase my best collegiate athletic design work in my Book, along with mock up some new designs (as my skills had constantly improved since my last Athletics position). To see the Book I sent over, click McGrathPortfolio.

I sent the Book to my employer via an informal email after applying for the job and was offered the position within a week. After I was offered the position, I asked my employer what he thought of my work. He said his biggest concern was that my style is totally different from what UC Irvine Athletics normally puts out, but my work was overall good. He was able to see the theme of simplicity throughout, and could tell I had an obvious workflow that attributed to a simplistic consistency in my design. This gave me the most important takeaway for developing a Book: style is key.

Your design style and treatment must be consistent across every page, and is what can and will set you apart from everyone else. Find your style, own it, and use it to your advantage. When developing a Book, it is crucial to display your absolute best works of design and creativity, provide quality over quantity, and sick to your style – letting it shine through the competition.

Keep your skies green!

Recently a friend on Facebook posted a status looking for a logo design. He said, “I need something bad a**. Something that can be used on business cards, shirts, web design, Etc.”  So naturally, I jumped on it.

After some back and fourth with my friend about his soon-to-be firearm company, I developed multiple rough sketches on paper of what I felt logo should look like. After  scouring the internet for firearm industry logos inspiration, and even searching what “Code 4” would mean (Ultimately a code used by Police officers to mean “All Clear”), I felt I had a good idea on where I should take the logo.

I initially began with a circular badge shape that had a “4” inside the center of it, as shown below:

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I threw the typeface on the bottom, using a typewriter font that felt like it would be an official looking font. I presented it to the creative director from my partnering agency, and he told me to stray away from the badge. He noted that the badge is a celebratory object and said I should consider using a shield or something more sharp and militant. He helped my realize that this logo and the objects comprising it needed to suit my friend’s industry.

After a quick reassessment, and more online searching, I developed an idea based around a theme always associated with firearms: death. Keeping the general idea of the badge, I came up with this treatment:

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As you can see, the badge was placed onto the skull’s helmet. I felt I had truly nailed it this time. I sent this logo to the client and received this feedback:

“The name is based off of law enforcement and ‘back the blue.’ Any way (Sic) you could incorporate that?… Can you use the color blue instead of red?… Do you think you can use a really aggressive font, maybe put a blue line through it for the ‘blue line flag’ thing. And honestly that’s good for me!”

So back to the drawing board I went. Receiving the extra information and confirmation about the logo and police relation, I knew I had to make this logo police friendly and still keep my friend’s idea for an initial “bad a**” design.

After exploring Font Squirrel for “aggressive” looking (and commercially free) fonts, and trying to find the best way to incorporate the blue, this is what I developed as a final product:

Code 4 Long

My friend loved it.

So I quickly made alternative layouts for him to us, along with separating the type (different font faces included) and skull and passed it along to him. He is currently planning on using it for his business. Here are the final logo treatments I developed:

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Keep an eye out for this awesome firearm company, and remember, firearms are tools – not toys.

One of the toughest tasks an ad agency can deal with is developing and enforcing a brand voice. This task sounds simple at first, but can often turn into quite the daunting task-especially when the brand is new. This leads to the question: How does an agency promote a new brand from scratch?

IV Creative’s newest client, Walking the Plank (WTP), is a start-up brand that wants to tackle a very niche market. After identifying a need in the surf community, the founders of WTP wanted to create a medium for information within the surf community, different from the current big hitters in the surfing world like Surfer Magazine, Stab Magazine, the Inertia, and even the smaller information disseminators like Kook of the Day and Beach Grit.

The trick for IV Creative now, is how can it make WTP take on special persona within a smaller, niche market AND get the brand’s name out into its target audience?

This is Phase I:

Content

… is the most important thing to obtain at first. When the brand goes public, it needs to hit the ground running full steam. Content planning is the most crucial item on IV Creative’s to-do list while building this brand’s voice and recognition. Pushing WTP will require the ability to actively stay in WTP’s target audience’s mind heavily while it first rolls out. That means staying in Twitter and Instagram feeds. The only way to to that, is to have content.

Content also creates the brand’s voice (while you are achieving brand recognition, your audience will begin to recognize what the brand’s persona is). WTP can post funny videos and pictures of scantily-clad women a few times a day (like Barstool Sports), but can this type of content negatively impact the validity of WTP’s reporting on news in professional surfing?  Mediums like Barstool Sports run into the trouble of being taken seriously, as was seen when Barstool Sports was denied credentials by the National Football League for Super Bowl coverage (admittedly, there were antics performed by Barstool Sports earlier in the NFL season that helped lead to the pulling of Barstool Sports’ credentials, but the case still stands that Barstool Sports is generally not taken seriously as sports news, but is more of an entertainment medium with sports opinions).

The reserve effect of only posting content with sports information puts WTP in line with stiff, traditional news media. If WTP only posts news, and the occasional funny video and dicey picture of a girl, the content does not properly fit the voice of the brand (although in some cases, it can work. That is a client specific issue).

This leaves Walking the Plank walking a fine line between being taken seriously or as a joke. As IV Creative takes on this newest branding assignment, we invite you to watch our branding strategy unfold.

Phase II will feature IV Creative’s task of hitting the target audience after having loaded up on content that holds a consistent and similar voice that sets the tone of WTP’s brand persona.

A lot goes into deciding what the final design solution should be for a project. Have you ever been to a store and noticed a lot of the “in” items have a similar vibe or design? There’s a reason for that – especially when considering the design element behind the item.

When analyzing designs, artwork will most likely come from different artists who all envisioned something similar, yet each artist slightly tweaked that image to suit their specific taste. An artist might go through one hundred variations (or more) of one design until they can narrow it down to the final few they like (then present to the client or their social media following). This poses the big question when deciding on that final art solution; which one to choose? This? Or that?

This is a problem that happens a lot in advertising agencies. Creative teams see things that they like, yet want to make them better – and make them to their own liking. This suddenly bounces into the realm of the whole trick behind designing: just because the designer liked it, does not mean that everyone (or anyone) else will.

To probe at this problem, IV Creative desingers released this image on social media, asking what the people preferred:

this-or-that

An overwhelming number of people selected the image on the left. The rational kept circling around to, “it just looks cool,” while the graphic on the right was too “dull.” Digging deeper, what makes the graphic on the left cooler than the graphic on the right? Is it the fact that the one on the left was designed with the emphasis of being digital while the other was designed for print (or as someone in favor of the graphic on the right suggested via question, “which one would look better on your bathroom wall?”)?

The decisions that go into graphic design elements go far beyond what words can explain and account for, but that is what makes graphic design such a unique craft. Why do artists do what they do? Why do they choose to go with this final rendering of a graphic over that one?  Especially if there is the large possibility that no one else will like it (or as an artist might argue, “get it”).

At IV Creative, we picture all of the possibilities of what a graphic could be, and select the best graphic for you. Just ask us for our best solution to your graphic needs. We will tell you why you should go with this one over that one. After we do that, your target audience will do the same. They will pick you over your competition – Your audience will say, “we want this one. Not that one.”

Sometimes, a cry for help on a social media platform is all it takes to get noticed. IV Creative founder, Jimmy IV, saw a friend’s post on Facebook asking for design help. His friend needed a logo to be made for her new Facebook page as a travel agent-a job she had just recently acquired.

After going back and forth with the client, learning the “why” driving her overall branding goals, pivotal research had to be done about the travel industry (specifically in the travel planning market segment). We found that when people think of travel agents, they correlate the agents with exotic destinations (you know the place. Where you can sit on the beach and sip mai tais with an umbrella in the drink and not have a care in the world).

Taking this consumer information, we packed as many things into her immediate brand image as we possibly could to help convey this agent-exotic destination correlation. Here is how the process went:

Crafting a square image for Facebook and profile headers, along with capturing the deep orange color silhouetting palm trees and a plane, we were able to create a nice online image for her brand.

The font and airplane make the main, stand alone logo, thus they convey the essence of the D.I.Y. Travel brand. The “D.I.Y.” font contains a rougher edge, conveying that you can “do it yourself,”  while the “travel” cursive font helps keep the luxury and exotic experience of travel.