Branding Wikia’s new editorial site, Fandom

Near the end of 2015, Wikia began to create a new media property. It would bring an editorial approach to our growing entertainment and pop culture knowledge ecosystem.

In a tireless collaboration between our product, engineering, sales, editorial, marketing, design, and community teams, we approached the January 25th launch. All teams worked in parallel to recruit writers, deliver a fresh new website, prep for launch, and of course, develop its visual brand.

The ask was relatively straightforward. Create a brand for this new property we would call Fandom. We proposed a minimum of 8–12 weeks to develop an identity, color palette, typography, various brand attributes, voice and tone, and some sample in-context design executions. In addition, we proposed resourcing for 100% of four designers’ time. Reality set in quickly as we realized that, in order to make the launch date of the 25th, we would have roughly four weeks. To add to the challenge, we were unable to secure more than 50% of any person’s time. Let’s do this!

Given the timeframe, we were forced to prioritize which pieces of a brand would have the most impact for the launch. We constructed an aggressive, but achievable timeline, prioritized tasks, and held ourselves and our stakeholders accountable.

Naturally, we decided to tackle the identity first. We started by creating an ownable identity as a foundation that can be built on in the future. Most importantly, we wanted to create an identity system that BLEEDS Fandom, something that new and existing users understand and relate to at first glance.

We facilitated exercises with our stakeholders to drive to a concise list of brand adjectives as a jumping off point. From there, we began gathering inspiration and putting together mood boards based on select adjectives to nail down a visual vocabulary for Fandom. We landed on: dynamic, energetic, current, adventurous and curious. We would embody a “live out loud” mantra. This would be our guiding light for the process ahead.

We began the logo process as any other designer does. Pencil and paper. We covered a lot of ground, thought through hundreds of possibilities, all while also balancing our normal day-to-day workload. From the exploration of letterforms and shapes, from literal to abstract.

Then, we hit a turning point.

Whether it represents the sentiment of home sweet home, the way Olive Oyl gushes at Popeye, replenishes your lives in Zelda, or commemorates your mother in a tattoo on your arm, the heart is an instantly recognizable symbol to everyone.

Heart = Passion. Passion = Fandom. Therefore…Heart = Fandom.

We went back to pencil and paper and explored the heart icon. We were careful with the shape, as we realized that the shape could easily skew too feminine or playful. After all, our demographic is primarily male! After multiple rounds of exploration and refinement, the segmented version of the heart was born. Made up of 4 segments, we started to see an ownable heart shape develop. Based on a grid with sharp angles, we added subtle curves to the inside lines of the heart to help guide the eye around the shape and to make it more approachable.

We carried over three colors from the existing Wikia brand, which we chose as a point of cohesion to delineate the gaming, movies and TV verticals present in both brands. It was a no-brainer. We added two neutrals and a warm red to round out the palette, and viola!

As we explored potential type pairings, we looked for an approachable face that played off of the curved and angular lines in the heart. The Fandom wordmark needed to stand on its own as easily as the heart. Through a lengthy exploration of serifs, slab serifs, Comic Sans, and Curlz, we landed on a customized logotype that flows just as nicely as the heart icon.

In this case, a quick turnaround time was truly a blessing for the team. We were able to truly focus our efforts like never before to create a brand we love. Blood, sweat, tears, and a few missed episodes of The Walking Dead aside, the team worked incredibly well together and has inspired us to continue moving forward at rapid pace. We’ve already started to tackle branding treatments for motion, print, advertisements, and more with the same passion. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out Fandom! You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Edited by the awesome James Witcher.

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