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rēˈbrand Design Exercise | Husky Energy

Format

rēˈbrand is a branding exercise focused on quick creative problem-solving. It is being formatted into a blog post to help share the process and the things learned along the way.

  • Redesign an existing brand’s logo
  • 2 hour timeblock
  • Deliver a polished logo
  • Program: Adobe Illustrator

Introduction

Over the past year, I’ve become more attentive to the brands around me. As my interest in the field of branding grew, I began to make a conscious effort to focus on brands as a whole. Identifying (what I believed to be) the rationale behind the creative decisions of a brand became a regular mental exercise. I would consider the things I liked or disliked, all the while re-imagining elements of the visual design.

One of the brands I found to perpetually catch my attention was “Husky Energy”. Husky happened to be a gas company with a select few locations scattered throughout my neighborhood. I found myself drawn towards the simple animal logo, primary colour palette, and a brand that remained consistent for as long as I could remember.

The moment I decided to do a branding exercise, I knew my first rēˈbrand project would be based around “Husky Energy”.

Husky Energy

Research & Planning

Overall Plan

    1. Work in Time Blocks
    2. Research – 10mins
    3. Planning – 5mins
    4. Design Drafts – 30mins
    5. Design Refining – 15mins

1 – Company Research

Who?

Husky Energy is a Canadian-based integrated energy company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta.

Mission Statement

Husky is committed to safe operations, protecting the public, its workers and the environment, as well as engaging the communities where it operates.

What do they do?

Gas production, thermal & downstream energy.

2 – Logo History

3 – Current Logo

What does it say?

The logo shows stability and breathes a level of comfort. It has a slightly formal feel to it but remains approachable.

Pros

    • I really like the colour palette. The muted primary colours feel very stable and familiar. Primary colours are the basis of most colour mixing. They are considered simple, and have strong emotional associations tied to them.
      Learn more about primary colours and basic colour theory: Color Theory for Designers, Part 1: The Meaning of Color, by Cameron Chapman
    • The logomark is beautiful. I love how it feels slightly aged, like an inked rubber stamp. Fairly clear and recognizable from a multitude of sizes and distances.
    • The wordmark feels structured and dependable.

Cons

    • The logomark could be a little more ‘friendly’ or feel like it is acknowledging you more.
    • Albeit beautiful, the logomark comes across as slightly “outdated” and “old”.
    • The wordmark shows some outdatedness, mainly in the slight unevenness in the ‘u’ and ‘y’.

4 – Rebrand Plan

Main Problem

The logomark & wordmark feel slightly outdated. The logomark could be more inviting.

Solution

Introduce some symmetry to the logo. Create a front-facing variation of the logomark suggesting a friendly approachable feeling.

Design Process

5 – Visual Reference

The way a dog’s mouth is shaped doesn’t allow it to smile in the traditional human sense. However, dogs can appear to be smiling when they open their mouth and pull back their lips, letting their tongue rest over their teeth. This often happens when they are relaxed, a telltale sign of approachability.

Here is our reference photo. The husky appears to be relaxed and content. Let’s try to capture that feeling in the form of our logomark within our short exercise time limit.

6 – The Logomark

In this stage, I’m tracing the reference photo to get the general shapes.
After the initial tracing, I start by re-working the shapes. Once the shapes are refined, I set them up for a vertical mirror. Tracing half of the face and then flipping it across a vertical axis guarantees a perfectly symmetrical vector shape (which is what was desired for this logomark). Further explanation of this decision can be found below in another concept that was explored.

 

Flip shapes to finish the face.
Lastly I simplify the shapes and combine them into a clean vector.
Further round and tweak some of the shape’s curves/lines. Old=Cyan, Final=Red
Final Logomark

7 – The Wordmark

Current Wordmark

I didn’t see anything terribly wrong with the wordmark that warranted drastic changes. However, I was able to nitpick some small details.

Problems

Letter spacing. The letters “u” and “s” feel closer together than the letters “s” and “k”. The “H” and “u” may need to be adjusted to match this change.

Solution

Let’s visually match the spacing to the “k” and “y”. I really like how they connect at the top.

Even spacing looks uneven for these letter pairings

 

Uneven spacing looks even for these letter pairings

Vertically straight letters next to each other (such as “H” & “u”) demand more space between them. The straight lines next to one another feel even closer together as they create a narrow visual channel. When paired with a curving shaped letter (such as “s”), it needs less space as there is a ‘less stiff’ and consistent visual channel created between the letters.

8 – The Result

Conclusion

9 – Challenges

There were several challenges this exercise presented. Some were self-imposed while others came about organically. Here’s a summary of a few:

Simple, but not basic.

As with most logomark projects that involve real-world references, the challenge hangs in the simplification of a complex subject. With this exercise, I hit my first design block when I found myself getting too focused on the finer details of my reference photo.

Now keep in mind, I actually like this (visually) better than the logomark I settled on. The problem was that it became merely an alternate angle to the already existing logomark. Had there been more time, I would have explored this concept to further simplify its shapes.

In hindsight, a concept utilizing a husky’s full-body could have been explored. That being said, it may have been a step away from a more “personable” brand that we were looking to create. Note, the 1947-190 branding of Husky Energy utilized a full-body logomark as well.

Same Same, but also different.

There is a certain conundrum that rears its ugly head during the process of rebranding. “How do we change the look and feel of the brand, without losing the existing personality of the brand entirely?”. Or on the inverse, “What if the changes are too subtle and fail to acknowledge our initial branding concerns?”.

While there is no absolute answer to this, we can guarantee our desired results with proper planning. Rebranding (and branding) projects benefit the most from strong foundational research, lots of drafts, strong concepts, and time to explore said concepts.

Time Restriction

This challenge was self-imposed, but it mirrors real-world situations. If you’re designing a logo or creating a brand for a client, there will be deadlines. In order to meet those client deadlines, you require internal deadlines. The process of logo design can lead you in N+ directions if given an open-ended timeline. Time blocking your logo design process means you don’t get stuck exploring concepts.

10 – With More Time I Would Have:

    1. Sketched some shapes (by hand)
    2. Created more drafts
    3. Refined more concepts
    4. Explored more concepts
    5. Played with typography (wordmark)

11 – Final Remarks

Overall I’m happy with the resulting logo. It’s refined enough to be a usable logo at this stage. It also addresses some of the identified problems with the old logo without destroying the existing brand personality. There is room for improvement and – given more time – this would be utilized as a strong concept which I could further explore.

If you are looking for a new logo design, contact ElementIQ.

If you are interested in Graphic Design, explore our internship options.