We’ve talked a lot about our rebranding and focused a lot on our name change, but how exactly did we land on Nu’s “Nu” logo? Nu graphic designer Laura Esposito was kind enough to answer a few questions for us regarding her creative process, her intent behind the redesign, and how our team influenced and supported her creative journey.
What are your first steps when designing a new logo?
Research! I always start with researching the current brand identity and assets to get a better sense of what we’ll be moving away from. Understanding a brand’s origin is really valuable when deciding what to change and gives the designer a purpose behind those changes. Next would come external research to take inventory of current trends, how other companies in the industry are representing themselves, and initial inspiration.
Team collaboration in the early stages of a rebrand is also a huge asset. It’s easy to become attached to a concept that seems to be a perfect fit, but having critiques with your team can often reveal problems previously unseen.
Also mood boards. I’m a sucker for mood boards.
How do you get started? What’s your process brainstorming or drafting design projects?
A brand is the visual personification of a company’s story, and I feel so fortunate that for Nu, I know that story so well. I find that for me, tying in a core piece of Inbound Marketing methodology, buyer personas, is a really helpful first step. Applying human characteristics to a brand is a helpful way to remove your awareness of the current design elements, which can often be a stumbling block when venturing into something new and undefined. Humanizing Nu as a brand was a way for me to return to the core of the company and work upwards from there, piece by piece.
Understanding Nu as a whole, it’s history, growth, and goals helped to establish intention behind each and every design choice to create a purposeful brand.
Where did your inspiration come from for Nu’s logo?
Because we had such autonomy and few boundaries with this rebrand, the routes we could have taken were endless. The sky was definitely the limit with this project and ironically, I kept finding myself drawn to Nu’s roots. As striking and impressive as some of the illustration styles, color palettes, and typefaces were, they weren’t true to who Nu is.
We wanted a brand that was timeless, a word that was really inspiring to me. I felt that timelessness, as applied to Nu, was an appreciation and acknowledgment of the past while simultaneously striving for constant growth in preparation for the future. This conclusion steered many of the design choices for the logo and brand assets.
I was really inspired by our team’s sketches but wanted to create purpose and tell Nu’s story with the mark. That’s when I started almost working backward with the brand elements, like typeface and color palette, to begin developing the concept behind the rebrand. The intertwined “n” and “u” was a perfect vessel to communicate the complex duality of Nu’s print shop history with our ‘sky’s the limit’ mentality when facing the future.
Do you have any examples of the initial logo ideas we could share? Could you choose 2-3 and explain how they eventually led to the one we now have?
Our team began this process by brainstorming and sketching ideas, and we immediately connected with the relationship between the “N” and “U” of the company name. When spelling out “nu,” we realized the forms mirrored each other and were able to be intertwined for a unified and more abstract mark.
How were colors selected and how are they important to branding?
Because I wanted every design choice to have intention behind it, I really stuck close to the characteristics that Nu as a company embodies. When starting with the overall goal of creating a timeless mark and seeing so many opposites when brainstorming characteristics of Nu as a business, one stuck out that directly correlated with our theme of timelessness: “historical and innovative.”
Nu originated as a print business and in the following years experienced tremendous growth and change, eventually finding their identity in Inbound Marketing. The ‘before’ logo we were starting with at the beginning of this project directly referenced that history by displaying the colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (K being black!). The key or K in CMYK stands for “key plate,” which is used to print detail in an image.
I felt that instead of selecting a brand new color palette for the rebrand and attempting to tie it in with these revelations, why not simply refurbish and update the current CMYK color palette?!
Research revealed that the CMY of CMYK can also be known as ‘process blue,’ ‘process red,’ and ‘process yellow.’ By selecting blue, red and yellow for a color palette, we could present a vastly different look while subtly referencing the origin of Nu as a company!
Do you ever hit any creative roadblocks? If so, how do you get around/power through them? What’s your process?
Oh, they’re inevitable! A lot can be said of stepping away from the project for a while and returning with fresh eyes. When you return, solutions and improvements can often be more much more apparent.
Team collaboration is also super helpful when hitting a creative roadblock. It can be helpful to show your design to team members who have different levels of exposure to the project, then you can get a really well-rounded review of the piece.
How do you think the new branding better reflects Nu and where we are now?
I really wanted Nu to have a brand that could be striking and memorable while remaining true to self. I also wanted to create a brand that would best serve the company by having variety, being organizational, and ultimately being scalable to grow and change with time.
Any tips for other designers, unique tricks, or quirky habits you have in your own design process that you’d like to share?
I’ve always felt that branding tells the story of a company, so gaining a deeper understanding of that company can make getting started with the design so much easier. Having a foundation to build your design choices off of allows you as the designer to feel more confident when creating but also speaking to those designs whether to your boss or the client.
Not only are clients receptive to seeing their unique story represented visually but a purposeful brand that embodies a company’s identity is so much more memorable for audiences. For me, the design process is all about creating connections and presenting opportunities to relate to one another.
As you can see, our rebranding process took thoughtful, dedicated, and visionary team members like Laura to see it through to the end. For more on rebranding your business, check out: What’s in a Name? Why We Changed the Name of Our Company.
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