At Greenhouse Software, we organize and host an annual event in San Francisco for recruiters and HR professionals. For this year’s event, we based our work on last year’s brief—we felt the landing page and branding were solid enough to use a second time.
But the scope, concept, target market, focus, and name all unexpectedly changed—and we had just 5 days to completely re-brand. Suddenly it was Greenhouse Open 2016, not Recruiting Optimization Summit. Our team embraced the challenge and pushed off all our other projects so we could tackle this one. Here’s a look at how we pulled off such a big project in mere days.
Our process started with research and collecting inspiration. We scoured Pinterest for logos, architecture, patterns, and anything that could apply to the event’s “open” concept, and we organized that inspiration on a board.
Once the research phase was done, Eunice and I met to discuss what could work for this event and what we were inspired by. That led to image organization, separated by concept, and whiteboarding high-level sketches of 3 different concepts. We settled on the following:
- Concept 1: Pictorial and literal approach
- Concept 2: Conceptual: abstract shapes
- Concept 3: Type and focus on lettering
Since this was a design team collaboration, I continued expanding upon those conceptual directions with more image inspiration that I pinned to a mood board. Meanwhile, Eunice started sketching out layouts for the first 2 concepts and added rough sketches to the board as they were mocked up. After the board was fully put together, I dove into the third concept.
It’s really important to spend proper time putting pen to paper. Tracing paper is my best friend, and I like to explore how different letterforms can intersect with each other through that experimentation.
After some quick pen to paper sketching, we roughly rendered layouts digitally for review with our stakeholders. We spent a day on this leg of the process so that we felt comfortable with giving each concept its due diligence, but not spending too much time to where it crept into our overall timeline.
Our first review had a lot of critical feedback: while none of the layouts we mocked up were particularly “right,” we focused on the name of the event. As a team, we’d gone back and forth on whether to focus on “Greenhouse,” “Greenhouse Open,” “G.O.,” or “Open.” After the first feedback round, it was clear that the focus should be on “Open,” so our next step was to play with that word more intentionally.
“Collaboration doesn’t happen without trust.”
We collectively decided to go forward with Concept 3. While it wasn’t quite there, it had some nice elements that could be taken in a few different directions. Each designer took a direction, but we communicated constantly. Being open to feedback is such an important part of the design process.
We went back to the drawing board to focus more on type treatments and pulling some elements of our Greenhouse brand (color, plant imagery, light typefaces) into our comps. We wanted to get a balance of masculinity and femininity so that the logo appealed to a bigger audience. The word “Open” needed to have a special treatment so that it could visually represent the focal point of the logo. Eunice and I liked the delicate plant assets that were stylistically a new element for us, but similar to icons we already use across our website.
At this point, we felt much better about the direction. Stakeholders agreed that we still needed to focus on typography and letterforms.
Direction 2 played with the idea of our plant icons intertwining with the letterforms to create a unique wordmark. Someone had the idea that this direction could benefit from our branded font, Akkurat STD, so we made that change for the last review.
“Keep visual values in mind when working on sub-branding initiatives.”
In our final push to deliver a great logo for the event, we refreshed Direction 1 with a new typographic approach that felt more unique. We used an Art Deco-inspired typeface that paired nicely with the circular layout and treatment of the icons.
With each direction, we presented a few different “layouts” once we both felt strong about the overall styling of each direction.
In our last review, there was a clear consensus between all stakeholders that Direction 1 was the strongest.
We settled on a combined circular and linear layout. The half-circle above the plant icons gives a sense of a horizon line, and overall the logo feels airy to tie back to the “open” theme. We could easily use those plant icons across other deliverables, and the Art Deco feel was something we hadn’t seen before at a technology conference (which was considered a good thing).
Why this project was successful
Here’s why we consider this project a success:
- We had clear, conceptual brainstorming sessions with thoughtful ideation
- Designers collaborated closely with fellow designers and other teams
- We created a visual system that can be applied to multiple deliverables across print and digital media
- Stakeholders were available for last-minute feedback and provided clear, constructive opinions for next steps
- Team members respected and trusted each other to be experts at what they were doing
A brand system we feel strongly about
We wanted to create a visual system around Greenhouse Open that could be updated each year so that the assets remain fresh and innovative across print and digital. This branding is the starting point to all deliverables and will also play a huge part in designing the actual event space.
Thanks to proper collaboration, a focused design process, and trust, the entire team was thrilled with how the event’s visual system turned out.
We hope you get to see the Greenhouse Open in person in May 2016!
by Sarah Butler
Sarah Butler is currently Senior Designer at Greenhouse Software, where she is responsible for all brand design and creative direction across print and digital assets. Prior to Greenhouse, Sarah designed multiple product and branding initiatives for companies in the tech and fashion space. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys writing, interior design, and all things branding.