Sheer Ethic is an online store specializing in eco and fair-trade products that will be launching later in 2011. I’m a partner in the business and I’ve been doing the identity for for the brand. I felt like writing about the branding process so for anyone that’s interested, you can find out more below.
The Sheer Ethic brand was born out the desire to share environmentally friendly, beautiful fair-trade products with the whole world. Being involved in Sheer Ethic as business partner and also as a designer meant I was given the task of producing a new logo and identity for the brand.
Knowing that at the core of Sheer Ethic are important values that represent the ethical treatment and respect of workers and the products they produce, the brief stated that it was important I came up with an identity that was symbolic of Sheer Ethic’s brand values. The new logo also had to illustrate that Sheer Ethic encompasses more than just beautiful products but helps to support the positive growth of the fair-trade industry and the people that make these products.
Research, Brainstorming and Concepts
Before I started sketching, I had several in depth discussions with the founder of Sheer Ethic Jenny Barnes where we spoke about similar brands, looked at competitors and also looked at general pieces of art and design that she was influenced by. During these discussions I took notes, photocopies, print outs and did a little bit of sketching also.
After I collated my research, I moved into the brainstorming and conceptual phase. This involved lots of rough sketching and a bit of word association as well as heaps of trials and experiments on the computer.
Once I had some solid ideas and directions on paper and on screen, I presented a collection of rough ideas digitally to the other business partners in Sheer Ethic. This included font variations for the identity as well as lots of shapes and symbols that could potentially turn in to a finished piece of art to be used for the logo.
This was a lengthy process that consisted of presenting and refining lots of different concepts as to explore all the different design possibilities but also due to the fact the other partners felt that many of the concepts I produced weren’t really representative of Sheer Ethic as a brand.
Getting It Right
After many, many rounds of concepts and ideas that were presented to the partners but continually rejected, one night on my commute home from work I decided to explore an idea I’d come up with earlier in the process. I sat down at my desk, sketched something out in my journal then jumped onto the computer to flesh out the concept.
Sometimes the best ideas come to you when you least expect it. I’ve agonised over countless designs in the past but I always usually have an ‘a-ha’ moment and somehow manage to sketch up that final idea within a couple of minutes.
The idea started with a love heart as I felt that incorporating the message of love and care into the identity would be very symbolic of Sheer Ethic and their brand values. I combined the love heart with an earlier idea I had of 3 leaves or a tulip sitting on a circular background.
This rough sketch consisted of 3 leaves that when combined formed the shape of a love heart in the centre of the leaves. I thought that this symbol could be quite unique and would act as a memorable logo that would appeal to Sheer Ethic’s demographic.
As you can see in the image below, this initial sketch of the 3 leaves and the love heart went through quite a few rounds of tweaking but eventually ended up looking like the logo you see below.
Choosing and modifying the right font to go with the symbol I designed was also going to be a contentious issue. Some ideas for the font that had been put forward by the other partners were that it had to be a loose, sketchy, hand-drawn style to match the rough, painted style of symbol I had previously designed.
After trying to develop an original typeface and modifying around 50+ fonts and matching them with the logo, I then presented a series of concepts and fonts to the other partners where they decided upon the font you see in the image above. I wanted to use a much cleaner font but the founder of Sheer Ethic Jenny was adamant that the font had to be very rough in appearance, almost like it had been sketched out with a pencil.
A love heart was added as a dot on the letter “i” to add relationship between the font and the love heart in the symbol.
The colours were possibly the easiest part of the whole process. I didn’t experiment a lot with colours as I found a palette consisting of an aqua/turquoise and apple green that worked really well from the beginning. Black was used for the outlines of the symbol and for the font to add emphasis. The colour scheme also compliments the eco-friendly, natural personality of the Sheer Ethic brand.
So I think at the end of the process, I arrived with a final design that everyone was really happy with. I would have loved to have spent another month refining the logo but with time being of the essence, I had to move on to the next step of getting the Sheer Ethic brand online…. designing the Sheer Ethic website!