For many years, OSTraining has taught people how to build websites with Joomla, WordPress and Drupal.
After hundreds of classes, thousands of videos and many thousands of users, OSTraining decided that it was time to refresh their brand. They've asked me to design their new logo and give them an identity that is clear, consistent and, at the same time, keeps them at the forefront of their industry.
My name is Chiara Aliotta. I'm an Italian designer with many years of experience in art direction, graphics, illustration and web design. I've worked with Vodafone, Nivea and many others.
With OSTraining we went through a normal rebranding process. What's different is that the OSTraining team asked me to share that process with you. I'll explain my thoughts on company values, colors, typography, logos and more.
I will share with you what we have achieved so far, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. So keep reading!
The First Meeting
At our first meeting, it was clear that the OSTraining team were not attached to their current logo. They wanted something new and young, but at the same time, something that would be able to communicate their extensive experience in the field.
Before the meeting, I prepared myself by reviewing their site and writing down some questions that I wanted them to answer for me during this open talk.
The team talked widely about their services, how they think people/users perceive their brand and what they would like to change about their current identity.
They promptly shared with me all the graphic materials that they use, online and offline, to communicate their products and represent the company.
It was an extremely constructive meeting and, by the end, I had already jotted down many keywords and values that would later help me build a values map and position their brand.
However, I asked the team to get together once again (without me) and collect three to five keywords that describe their brand. This is what they came up with:
- Trustworthy, Supportive, Helpful, Responsive
- Innovative, Geeky, Informative
- Engaging, Enthusiastic, Fun
Things they said in more detail included a couple of comments about mixing these genres:
- "It is possible to be both trustworthy and enthusiastic, like Freshbooks"
- "You can be both fun and geeky, like MailChimp"
The Values Map
As a designer, when I design a logo, I have the responsibility of forming the foundation of the brand. Building a brand is often erroneously seen as just a matter of bringing together colors, fonts, marks and a slogan. In reality, the process is more complicated than this.
Corporate images not only help companies communicate themselves consistently, through the use of the same colors, typefaces and marks throughout their materials, but they also reflect the values and aims towards which the company is oriented.
A brand like OSTraining, so widely known, already comes with a “suitcase” full of values and expectations that are shaped by the perceptions of their audience.
So in this case, it was really important to “extract” this vision and turn it into actionable points for my design. Along with the keywords and adjectives that I gathered during our meeting, I built this map of values and started designing inside these borders.
As you can see, the chart shows the values divided into two groups: brand and service. In fact, some adjectives strictly refer to the product/service the company sells and others are related more to the company itself, as an institution.
The map also shows where these two groups overlap and which values they have in common.
The Color Palette
The previous step is really important and serves as the basis for the next one: defining a color scheme. I usually work with color schemes along with some logo sketches to be sure that these colors work well together and correctly convey the values I have previously listed. So usually colors are chosen based mostly on the values map and are later fine-tuned in the final logo, when the direction the company wants to take is clearer.
I didn’t want to drastically change the current color scheme. I expanded the hues of blues to express values such as professionalism, clarity, and experience. I also kept blue and light blue because they are the common colors of the most important CMS's that OSTraining is teaching: Joomla, WordPress and Drupal. So it was important to visually keep OSTraining and these 3 brands connected.
Finally, I warmed them up, adding some hues of orange and yellow, to communicate traits such as personable and enthusiastic.
In fact, I personally think that the current OSTraining image is a bit cold and impersonal, while their way of teaching is extremely supportive and helpful.
From the wheel, you can already appreciate that the scheme is sophisticated and trendy (even with limited color hues) but also friendly and intense.
This is a really important stage of designing a logo. Choosing the right typeface is not a simple task. I personally think (and you will find that many other great graphic designers agree) that typefaces have personality and that their “character” can be perceived by everybody, even if you’re not an expert in the subject. So when you choose a typeface you should make sure it does not communicate the wrong message.
I have written different articles about how and why you should carefully choose a typeface and I do believe that this is the most delicate and demanding task a designer faces when he/she designs a logo or simply works with a font.
For OSTraining, I personally preferred to get rid of the “informal” Slab Serif font they are currently using in their logo, in favor of a cleaner, bolder, but still contemporary, Serif. My choice went to Nexa, a formal, geometric and highly legible font designed by Font Fabric.
Nexa comes in different weights and styles, making it extremely versatile and convenient for the wide variety of graphic materials that the company uses, both online and offline. I chose Nexa because, aside from its rigid and geometric construction (that reminds me of the most well-known typeface, Futura, designed by Paul Renner), it has something friendly and charming in its smooth terminals and in the “g” loop.
I have also removed the bold emphasis on the letters “OS”, preferring a more clean and balanced look of the company’s name.
Before we start talking about how we will choose the logo, it is important to explain what a logo stands for.
A logo has the purpose of identifying the company. It is the company’s signature and, for this reason, it should be unique, authentic and remarkable. A logo should not be a “description” of the business. It does not explain what kind of business the company does (otherwise, Apple would be a grocery store rather than the most famous company in the digital market!). It is a symbol that identifies the company, communicating its values in a way that is memorable and recognizable.
The actual mark that OSTraining has been using all these years, even if it has already been well received by its audience, is far from including all these characteristics.
Analyzing what OSTraining’s main services are, we can easily sum them up with the following substantives: teaching, learning, explaining and, of course as the name says, training.
I imagine OSTraining as a valuable online, modern university where you can learn, in a professional and cost-effective way, how to build websites for yourself and your clients.
The OSTraining team has reviewed different marks and proposals in the past few days. We have now come to the final round, and this is where we need your opinion.
The two logos we are now asking you to evaluate and consider, both represent a shield.
It is common to see crests used by prestigious universities as symbols of nobility, descent, and also for their elite students and high recognition in society.
However, having a simple shield would give OSTraining’s audience a completely wrong impression of its brand; for sure trustworthy and reliable, but also negative attributes, such as cold, expensive and inaccessible.
So, I thought of building the crest out of a book and creating a friendlier and warmer shield. A book is the most traditional, common way to visualize concepts like “learning and teaching”, but turning it into a shield can properly communicate values such as professionalism and experience, the core values of the company.
Logo 01, presented here, shows the book open and the sheets (the orange part) and the cover (the blue external line) folded to form the shield. The prevalence of orange and yellow tones down the edgy lines of the book, which , in this proposal, are easy to identify and combine really well with the OSTraining slogan words: “explained” and “simple”.
Logo 02, presented here, is based on the same concept of a book that it is turned into a shield. However, the open book here is seen from a more unusual perspective (its open silhouette). In this logo, the shield shape is cut into 3 sections to represent OSTraining’s main services: online training, live training and books. In this way, the book is not immediately recognizable (innovative) but the shield shape reminds you of the company’s values: professionalism, trustworthiness and structure.
Summary and your thoughts
This was a long and challenging process and I do hope you have enjoyed reading of this journey.
Now the OSTraining team is asking you to participate in an open discussion to help them decide on the logo that will be used to communicate OSTraining’s new identity!
So please let us know your thoughts!