A little over a year ago, Micah Walter told me he was starting his own business and that he wanted a simple wordmark to identify himself. At the time, he was running the operation independently and decided what he needed was not a logo as traditionally defined (i.e. a symbol, graphic, or image), but a simple typographic treatment of his name.

In his blog he had been using a monospaced font, which he wanted to use as a starting point. For those that don’t know, monospaced type is the iconic font style used for typewriters, computer programming, and other machine-driven fields. It connotes a sense of automation and tech savvy, yet it is friendly and charming in its nostalgia. It was a perfect choice for a business that is making digital things for cultural orgs.

We spent a few months developing a unique modification of this font style, not without exploring alternative logos and wordmarks. The final result grew from a font called space mono, that had the right amount of quirkiness and visual weight to create a distinctive and commanding mark. Each character was altered to create a composition of uppercase and lowercase letterforms that are a consistent height. This decision was not only to make it feel more approachable, but it also allows us to use the elements of his name more like shapes than words. It could be pushed right to the edge of a page without cutting off the top of the ‘t’ or the dot on the ‘i’. It could be flipped, stacked, re-colored, shrunk, enlarged, without compromising legibility. A flexible system was beginning to grow.

Fast forward six months, and Micah’s business now includes a number of partners, made up of designers, programmers, project managers, and more. He went from being a sole freelancer to a fully functioning studio. In the midst of all this, he knew that he needed to update the way he presented his business to the public. “He” became “We” and the visual identity needed to reflect that.

Since Micah had already begun to establish himself in the museum field, people knew his name and were beginning to associate his name with how it appeared on his blog, business cards, and other communications. Since we rely on memory for a successful brand, completely changing the identity in its early stages would kill the progress we had made in becoming recognizable. So, to avoid reinventing the name or its appearance, we simply added the word “studio” in the same typographic style. We also introduced red, green, and blue, otherwise known as RGB, the patriotic palette of the digital world.

Adding elements to a visual identity can sometimes complicate things, but in this case it worked in our favor. A third word allowed us to create multiple lockups, and three colors could be used for variety and distinction. With a suite of possible arrangements and color combinations, Micah Walter Studio developed into a much richer brand experience.

Brands are not logos. Brands are developed over time by understanding the need, personality, goals, and audience of the individual or company. Just how a person is not defined solely by their hair color, or the job they have, or what they eat for breakfast; organizations shouldn’t be defined by a single graphic moment. So, as we continue to make things, we anticipate the brand will continue to reveal itself in new and unexpected ways.