NU Brand Bootcamp: Week 1 — SHAPE

Welcome to the NU Brand Bootcamp, a personal project I am undertaking this quarter. Every week, I will explore and redesign a logo of a Northwestern University student organization as a means to grow as a designer and understand what it takes to truly build a brand.


SHAPE (Sexual Health & Assault Peer Educators)

Mission: “to provide education, organize events, and stimulate discussion and awareness on issues surrounding sexual health and sexual assault”

Brand Evolution:

First logo (that I was able to find), 2009
Current logo as of 2011

The five-shape motif has been the backbone of Shape’s visual presence on campus since the dawn of their Facebook page. Shape’s current logo communicates approachability and education through its bright colors and whimsical geometry. Though it’s pretty obvious that the overlapping geometry references their acronym, I couldn’t find any information on why those five shapes/color combos were chosen and what facets of Shape they represent.

Personally, I thought it read a bit juvenile for a college student group centered around sexual health and assault — especially one that has the cheek to organize something called the G-Spot!


Reshaping SHAPE…

Due to personal reasons (aka me casually forgetting my charger at home whilst frolicking to California for Spring Break), I started the redesign process through hand-sketching:

“What if the logo was collection of circles that formed a constellation? This could convey the intersectionality in their practice. The circles could also be arranged in other ways for different Shape projects, such as a G for G-Spot, etc.”

I really liked the constellation idea, so I moved forward with a vector prototype…

“….”

…only to scrap it immediately. It wasn’t terribly offensive or anything, but the constellation reminded me more of molecular biology than sexual assault education. I went back to the drawing board:

“How might I design a logo for a group that works on serious topics while preserving their playful side? What if I focused the logo on typography?”

Moving to the computer, I started wondering if I could somehow preserve the geometric quality of the original logo whilst adding a sense of playfulness. Inspired by a Lynda Tutorial on Bauhaus Typography, I created custom typography using geometric shapes.

All of these letters were created using using intersections of squares and circles, conveying Shape’s intersectional approach to activism and education, as well as a sense of playfulness.
The curvy letterforms really bring out the “sex” in sexual education.

I was pretty happy with how the letters turned out, and started to experiment with color. In the original SHAPE logo, five colors were used: red, orange, yellow, green, and purple. Presumably, this was to reference the range of topics and identities represented by SHAPE’s work.

The purple was likely thrown in because of Northwestern.

I tried bringing this rainbow motif to the new logotype…

I also widened the tracking to reduce visual fatigue

But felt that it could be misinterpreted for a LGBTQ-focused group instead of one on sexual wellness and education. Hence, I shortened the spectrum of colors to focus on magentas and blues — as an homage to Planned Parenthood and the transgender flag.

I paired the logo with Proxima Nova Soft, a typeface that retains the geometry of the logo while balancing out its sharp edges with round ones. Finally, as an added bonus, the letters can be rearranged vertically to “penetrate” each other, for use as graphical elements.

Get it?

There is obviously much more to explore regarding the visual identity of SHAPE (just think of the animations!), but for the sake of time, this is all I’m going to explore for now. Here’s a comparison shot to tide you through to next week…

Not too shabby, eh? And, yes, I am Canadian

Let me know what you think!

Jason Yuan

Visual & Experience Designer
Theatre/Communications Junior, Northwestern University
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All work produced as part of this series should be viewed as work in progress instead of finalized rebranding proposals. If an organization wishes to pursue any of the solutions formally, please contact me directly!