Logo and Branding Redesign

When I first joined the public affairs team at the California Department of Conservation, I was quick to make a list of branding items I saw as in need of refresh to more effectively support the department’s outreach and reputation goals. I called this my project wish list and promptly forgot about it as other work came my way.

Fast forward two years and that project wish list is now complete – an unexpected result, and a surprisingly well-received one. The department director sponsored the change and it was up to me to guide the design and implementation.

 Goals for new branding:

  1. Signal a unified organization
    1. Unite the diverse emphases, expertise, and audiences of the departments five divisions into one logo design
  2. Demonstrate change and modernity
    1. Replace the previous five logo system with a centralized master logo adaptable to each division
    2. Incorporate core elements from each division to maintain visual representation of each (as possible)
    3. Design a logo that is more adaptable to digital use
  3. Embody the mission of the department
    1. Convey key themes of: natural resources, State of California, earth science, modernization, conservation, academia, research, authority

Logo suite prior to redesign: 

 

Prior logos key issues:

  • Designed in 2008, the rectangular design is not easily scaled or adapted.
  • Original intent was to customize a tile for each division, inherently creating dissonance.
  • Lack of cohesion across all tiles aside from the lower third text, which is inconsistent in use of full or shortened division name
  • Nothing indicates a division is actually part of a larger organization.
  • Main department logo (with the black bear) is the same size and layout as divisional logos, a misleading visual cue of organization hierarchy.
  • Most employees were unable to identify what the yellow stars represented or why elements were arranged as they are (general lack of connection to the logo)

These concerns, paired with the organizational goals of modernization, set the scene for a new logo.

Redesigned logo suite: 

DOCFullLogo-etsdresize
Master DOC logo

 

logolockups-2018
Examples of divisional lockup with the master logo

 

3-Bears-On-the-Move-Web-banner
Samples of thumbnail version of logo and single color options without word mark.

Prior logos key issues:

  • Designed in 2008, the rectangular design is not easily scaled or adapted.
  • Original intent was to customize a tile for each division, inherently creating dissonance.
  • Lack of cohesion across all tiles aside from the lower third text, which is inconsistent in use of full or shortened division name
  • Nothing indicates a division is actually part of a larger organization.
  • Main department logo (with the black bear) is the same size and layout as divisional logos, a misleading visual cue of organization hierarchy.
  • Most employees were unable to identify what the yellow stars represented or why elements were arranged as they are (general lack of connection to the logo)
  • Lack of brand standards opened the door to program-level sub-logos created with no oversight

 

Measurement of Redesign Success:

  1. Signal a unified organization? 

YES: The master logo + divisional lockup design unified how the department presented itself to the public.

I worked closely with our contracted design firm PixelMill, to narrow and blend the natural resource/land use features we wanted to associate with the department: geologic formation of mountains; rolling hills with water for watersheds, clean water, iconic California landscapes; green crop rows of agriculture.

  1. Demonstrate change and modernity?

YES: The new logo was designed with scalability, diversity of use, and digital reproduction in mind. Vertical and horizontal options were predesigned, along with several single-color options that fit within a broad and structured brand palette.

  1. Embody the mission of the department?

YES: The mission of the Department of Conservation is to “balance t​​oday’s needs with tomorrow’s challenges and fosters intelligent, sustainable, and efficient use of California’s energy, land, and mineral resources.” A big goal rooted in natural resources (check: color palette, soft edges around bear and within landscape lean toward organic, earthy feel) California (check: bear), California’s land use (check: specific landscape elements within bear).