At the time, Marlin Reese needed help uncovering the potential in his business. We extended our hand and carefully went through his goals and vision, unlocking what more was possible that eventually lead us to Reeform Fitness.
The challenge in itself wasn’t designing the identity. When we started the business didn’t have a name. It was a dream that needed help becoming a reality. The bigger challenge was making sure every step was the right step. Failure was real and a big fear of my client. And one wrong turn could have been detrimental to the success of his new business.
Every client is different, but we offer a specific service here—brand identity. I tailor the approach based on where a client is at in their business and promise a fully usable and engaging brand identity at the end of the project. In the case of ReeForm, a large part of the approach was simply listening and paying attention. I asked a lot of questions to get to the bottom of a solution that would not only give my client confidence moving forward, but pride in telling the world who and what his business was.
Research & Discovery
Sizing Up the Competition
Undoubtedly the most important part of my design process is Research & Discovery. I’m never blindly designing or going off assumption. The project goals and expectations have been set; the target audience is known; and all of that needs to collectively hit the nail on the head.
Since I’ve never designed for this industry, knowing the trends, aesthetics and observing the competitor brands and their brand identities needed surveying. In doing so there was a through line I picked up on: the use of movement, line, and texture conveying different degrees of strength, grit, and intensity. The color red was also popular and as the research continued I grew curious on what the professional brands were doing.
The Shaun T Brand
This brand was a great area of study within itself. His identity was largely adaptable—used across several mediums (marketing collateral, photos, videos, different lock-up combinations.) It was clean in its form and functioning to tell the world who he was and what he did. It was something lacking in the competition’s brands that begged to be implemented.
This research brought me back to my client. I had to ask what his larger goals and visions were and where he saw himself going before executing on this level—if there wasn’t a need for something this expansive I would have ended up designing for something entirely different. The project came to a turning point when I asked if the client saw himself offering additional training programs than his original scope. That question opened the floodgates to possibilities beyond the initial project proposal. When it came down to it we determined an adaptable brand identity was needed. And rather explaining what ‘adaptable brand identity’ means I’ll show you momentarily.
Brainstorming & Sketching
The first few days spent brainstorming and sketching are pretty important. Whether an idea is good or bad is subjective at this point—I’m really just trying to dig my way past the tip of the iceberg and get to the larger part of it. Doing that brought me into a deeper look inside the client’s name: Reese. It was Welsh meaning ardent or fiery. That was his approach to fitness and transforming their lives. This lead down a path of combining the “R” letter-form with a flame.
I loved this and my client did too. But after I got out of my Honeymoon Phase I noticed a huge problem: I didn’t design with the target audience in mind. The function of the logo was to narrate both the client’s story and attract clients. The logo didn’t communicate ‘fitness’ or ‘gym’ on its own without the wordmark ‘ReeForm Personal Training’ following it. And this also didn’t lend itself to being an adaptable brand identity (I promise you’ll see what this means in a few seconds!)
So I went back to the drawing board not defeated, but encouraged. That solution didn’t work. I found out why and learned something. And little did I know a blessing lay there in my initial sketches that would become the starting point in finding the final solution.
Refinement and the Final Identity
As a superhero enthusiast (hence the ‘geeky’ part of Geeky Dreamer) the iconic logo of Superman has always been a symbol of strength. Its form modeled after a diamond—the hardest material in the world. That shape became the perfect foundation to build on. The “R” and “F” letterforms were taken and based around this using the outer lines to pull you into the center where the silhouette would be.
In those initial sketches the flexed arm inside the ‘R’ letterform only gave so much wiggle room. It didn’t allow much flexibility. If positioned or designed just slightly off the ‘R’ form would have broke. Going the route of using the client’s competition photo for the silhouette between the ‘R’ and ‘F’ baked my client and his story into the logo.