If you've seen me in person lately, you may have noticed that I'm a bit obsessed with my own logo: I have custom-branded headphones, t-shirts, tanks, jacket, stickers, and a phone case. When I first started thinking about developing a brand identity last winter, I knew I wanted a logo that was so compelling, that I'd want to put it on everything. Thanks to my talented designer (and childhood best friend!) Jen Wong, I can finally say: Mission accomplished!
Jen and I have been friends since kindergarten. We took drawing classes together every Wednesday after school, stayed up late reading Wishbone books underneath blanket forts, did elaborate art projects during summer vacations, and spent much of fourth grade passing teeny, rolled-up notes to one another. After high school, she attended RISD, and then established herself as an incredibly talented design director at a digital agency in New York City.
Coincidentally, she began her freelance career right around the same time that I left my tech marketing job to start Elektra Steel. When she heard about what I was doing, she offered to help create my brand identity. I jumped at the opportunity to hire her -- I'd admired her portfolio and personal style for years, and I had complete trust in all her aesthetic choices. (Case in point: her mouth-watering Instagram.)
We started with the mark: I wanted a design that was bold, geometric, and edgy. In Jen's words: "We spent the most time developing a strong mark for Elektra Steel, going through many sketches, directions and iterations. The biggest challenge was developing a strong, geometric 2D mark that also hinted at three-dimensionality." Here's a photo of her sketchbook, during that initial brainstorming phase:
"After several weeks, we had three directions but realized — while they were close — they were not quite there." I had a gut feeling that I wasn't completely in love with the logo, but I felt bad asking Jen to go back to the drawing board -- especially after all the work she'd put into it already. When I finally brought it up, Jen was incredibly understanding and professional about my last-minute panic, and graciously agreed to rework the design.
When she showed me a brand-new direction the very next week, my heart started pounding and I practically jumped out of my seat -- I knew it was the one. The mark she designed was bold and geometric, and felt simultaneously edgy and balanced to me. It was suggestive of a lightning bolt, reminiscent of the arc of electricity used in TIG welding. It immediately felt right. I was in love.
The rest of the pieces fell into place quickly. "Once we had a mark we were happy with, I played with a few type options to match," says Jen. "Ultimately, I ended up modifying an existing typeface to better echo the sharp angles and points in the mark we created." After that, she whipped together a killer business card design, some Instagram templates, and a comprehensive set of brand guidelines that I refer to every time I'm creating a new asset or tweaking my website.
Having a sharp, consistent, and professional-looking brand across both digital and print has been a crucial step in building the Elektra Steel business. It tells a compelling story about what Elektra Steel stands for, and gives my fledgling company a polished edge. Huge kudos to Jen for her stellar work. And on a personal level, what a gift to have had this excuse to reconnect with my childhood best friend.
If you dig the Elektra Steel logo and want to order your own gear, check out my swag store!