We’re here to let teachers teach.

Smith & Diction
Aug 11, 2016 · 7 min read

We were asked to help Clark come up with an identity that did a lot with a little. Clark is a virtual assistant that handles admin for tutors. And you’re thinking, Tutors? What? Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE THE FABRIC OF OUR NATION, THAT’S WHY. Just kidding, it’s because tutors sometimes aren’t the most business savvy individuals. They most likely got into tutoring because:

  1. They truly love molding the minds of our future generations.
  2. OR to make up for the terrible wages that they are being paid at their day jobs.

But where there’s money, there are problems and to quote Mr. Notorious:

“Mo Money Mo Problems.”

Tutors have to deal with forgetful parents, :air quote: sick :end air quote: kids canceling appointments, scheduling in general, taxes, and the admin list goes on and on and on. THEY JUST WANT TO TEACH, IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?? There are just so many hard conversations that need to be had about payment and cancellation fees, so most of the time the tutors just don’t have them and go on without being properly compensated. This is where Clark comes in. Clark handles all of that dirty work for you. I’ll explain more as we get into the executions.

So now let’s get into the brand identity work.

Primary mark

A Chatty C.

This chat bubble C is the primary mark for Clark. One of the main concepts of the product is that you will be able to interact with Clark at any time on any platform. So we wanted to somehow include that function in the mark itself, since it was the basis of the entire product.

Logo variations & color

When we first started the project, we were thinking of Clark through the superhero lens. Sort of like Clark Kent. Nerdy glasses and whatnot. We even came up with a tagline that we loved.

We’ll be Clark Kent so you can be Superman(woman).

So we were playing with this idea of nerdy glasses and chat bubbles. How would we get them to interact? Well we came up with this little number.

Chat bubble glasses

We loved this mark. The Clark folks loved this mark. But we killed it. You’ll see why if you keep reading. If you’re just endlessly scrolling to look at the pictures this sentence doesn’t even matter anyway.

Before // After

As an alternate mark to the glasses we presented this chat bubble C for social media, app icon, or just anywhere that the glasses would get too small horizontally.

It was super geometric and a little clunky. They were really attracted to this concept so we refined it a little in the next round. It actually ended up becoming the primary mark.

Who you callin’ a pencil nose?

In our kickoff meeting we were tossing around a few weird ideas about a mascot or some sort of fun character that could be the thing that you interacted with. Something that was the perfect middle ground that kids would love and parents wouldn’t get annoyed with. The idea of a bear was tossed around just because they wanted to make bear puns throughout the brand. We all kind of laughed and took the suggestion for what it was, but once we started working on the project we were doodling all sorts of characters and then were like, “Okay, I guess I’ll try the bear just to be funny.”

Bear mascot

Lo and behold the bear worked out. We presented him kind of as a joke but still put a lot of effort into it being a viable option. Since this guy is your virtual assistant we wanted to give him a pencil nose, you know, so he could write down notes and never forget his pencil. That pencil nose also led to some really fun explorations of emotion. We wanted it to seem like the pencil was drawing his emotions. So we worked out a few of the most basic reactions that he could have and then developed some facial executions based on that.

Bear emotions
Think of it like this

Bear with me here.

Part of the reason we killed the glasses was because they just didn’t work well with the bear. It felt like we had two cartoon-y logos. But a problem that we ran into was that we felt like the bear was maybe tooooo approachable. Like would you trust this bear to do your taxes? Prob not. But do you want him to tell you how many students you are meeting with today? Maybe? If you like bears, then yes to all of the above.

The goal was to treat him like the mascot of a sports team. Kind of like a cheerleader, a point of pride, and an icon that lets people know they’ve got a whole team behind them, determined to help them succeed. Then, in other places that are a little more “business oriented,” we can use the speech bubble C.

We made some friends for the bear as well. We were working on a demographics presentation and instead of just writing out “18–31 year old women” we came up with a group of buds to represent different demographics.

A group of bear buds.

How do you make a robot sound cool?

Aside from developing an identity, the Clark team asked us to help create a tone for them. Chara was pumped. Obviously.

Demo created by the Clark team

I don’t think we really made it sound cool but we definitely made it sound human. We thought through dozens of use cases and tried to prepare the team for how Clark would respond. Things like, “Oh crap, I’m sick. Please cancel everything.” BOOM. Clark checks your schedule and messages everyone you were supposed to meet with and lets them know you can’t make it. Done and done.

Maybe we should develop this for that one friend that bails on every plan last minute and they could just use Clark to do their dirty work? Who knows, there’s probably a big market there. Also, who says a robot can’t use emojis? Rock on robot.

Developing a tone for Clark

You’re dead to me.

Here’s everyone’s favorite part of these posts, the killed logos.

We were messing with this concept of “Focus” so we presented this head shape that would have all sorts of shapes around it creating visual noise but inside of the head were just 3 shapes that were clean, structured, and focused. The head mark basically ended up being the Scattergories logo and the little C shape at the bottom is the Harper Design logo, so I threw this execution directly in the trash can. Still really dig the head shape though. I’ll probably end up using it for something else later.

Get out of here egg head
Icons for: privacy, listening, loading, errors, multi-user, typing, etc

This isn’t just about tutors.

This product could be the future of virtual assistants for anyone that’s self-employed or doing a work-for-hire situation. Designers, personal trainers, plumbers, yoga teachers, driving instructors, web developers, housekeepers, babysitters, electricians, gardeners, consultants, in-home snake charmers, the list goes on and on. So while this is aimed directly at tutors right now, who knows where they will go next. We all have admin to do and it always sucks. Get that time back and get back to work or doing what you love what you do or whatever.

If you’re a tutor and you’re totally interested in this visit and sign up for their beta.

Smith & Diction

This publication is a behind the scenes look at what goes into branding projects with Smith & Diction.

Thanks to Chara Smith

Smith & Diction

Written by

Smith & Diction

This publication is a behind the scenes look at what goes into branding projects with Smith & Diction.

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