Branding 41 West

Smith & Diction
Smith & Diction
Published in
5 min readMar 11, 2024


Bringing the behind-the-scenes weirdos to center stage.

Well well well, if it isn’t another Smith & Diction brand with some weirdo mascot type thing. We squeeeeezed this project in as a sprint right at the end of last year and boy did we have some fun.

We got an email from Jessica Strelioff at Goodside Studio intro’ing us to Preston Richardson at 41 West because they were booked up and luckily we were just winding down on a big project so we said, why not end the year with a fun little sprint?

During our initial chat with Preston, he was talking about how wonderful it is to be on set and see all kinds of various people from all kinds of different backgrounds working together for one common goal. T̶o̶ ̶m̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶c̶l̶i̶e̶n̶t̶s̶ ̶m̶o̶n̶e̶y̶, I meannnnn to make commercial “art.”

41 West is a motion and stills production studio. They are the people who herd the wild people into making beautiful art. They’ve been doing this for quite a while too. Preston and his team have worked with clients like, Paypal, Athleta, Allbirds, North Face, Columbia, Oros Apparel and many more. Preston had been doing it under his own name for a few years and decided to launch a new brand to make it feel a little bigger than just a one man show.

He called it 41 West after the road in California that leads from the ocean to the mountains. So poetic. So he hit us up to make something that felt funky and fun while also being able to hold up in corporate Google Slides presentations. I mean that’s kinda what everyone hits us up for these days. Hey, make it weird…but digestible.

Smith & Diction making weird yet digestible brands for the corporate atmosphere™©®

Anyway, can you tell I don’t have much to say here other than that we just truly had a bunch of fun? I think sometimes it’s okay if design does that. Like, it’s okay if something just makes your heart feel happy.

The wordmark is a somewhat customized version of Youth — Black by All Caps. It has an amazing power to transport you back to some bygone television era of 1960’s news intros while also not being over the top goofy.

We developed a visual language that was built to flex. Literally. Summer created this W that can stretch across wide spaces or bend around corners to let the brand be more than just a static wordmark. It adds a bit of levity and play that I think most production studios are afraid to put out there.

Like I mentioned above, when we talked to Preston about his visions for the brand, we kept coming back to this idea of the groups of people that come together to make big productions happen. Stylists, gaffers, sound engineers, people who blow things up, photographers, directors, hair and make up, etc. And most of the time those people are such beautifully unique individuals (that’s the woke way of saying weirdos). We wanted this brand to pay some homage to the team. What if we made them the central figures? So Summer drew up a fun cast of characters that have a ton of personality, even though they are kinda just thumb shaped blobs with no mouths.

Once we drew them up we knew that they must be animated and that there was only one person we trusted to do it right: James Dybvig. He was the perfect partner to give these figures the right amount of quirky spunk. He did an absolutely amazing job with this camera guy.

Sprints are always risky but this one totally paid off.

Working with Preston was great. He was the first person we opened the Sprint offering up to that wasn’t a direct homie of ours. And he totally got it. He understood the time constraints and helped keep things moving quickly. But he also trusted us to really do our thing. And that allowed us to create something together that feels unique for the space and also has a bit of his personality baked into it.

It’s nice to know that the business model can work and still be a ton of fun.

Summer McClure — Brand & Illustration
James Dybvig — Animation

Did you like this project? Want to work with us and make some funky stuff together? Let’s do it.

Shoot us an email at → We love talking to all kinds of folks. Even if we can’t work with you for some reason, we’ll try to intro you to someone who can! Networking!