Use this guide to learn how to unify pieces of a brand pattern into logos, icons, and more, then take them back apart to use across all your marketing materials.
When creating a campaign or series of pieces meant to go together to communicate a common message, we should create a visual language of symbols and elements meant to unite the message to the viewer.
An easy way to establish consistency of the collateral is to use familiar imagery and design elements. You can use pieces of a pattern, logo, or icon sets to achieve this. In addition to fonts, photography, and color schemes, the overall feel of a campaign is built with icon sets: shapes, patterns, and various rules and glyphs.
Like mascots, if you will. Little communicators and helpers.
Lets look at some ways we can achieve this using a hip Memphis Group style pattern and taking it apart.
Disassemble a Pattern
First, we need to disassemble a pattern, in order to use the pieces it’s built with as distinct design elements. Usually a pattern is made of small groups of elements repeated. This example includes several flat pieces we can pull out and use.
Image via Antikwar.
After downloading, I chose a pattern from this I thought would compliment my goal of separate pieces that would be good to pick apart and reassemble to my liking. I simply selected it, cut it from the group, Command + X, and pasted it into a new file, Command + N.
Next I changed the colors by double-clicking a shape to enter Isolation Mode. This will allow you to change the properties of a group of objects without disturbing their layer order or grouping. Then I selected each of the same shape by holding Shift and clicking the shapes, in order to change the color uniformly.
Create Icons From a Pattern
Let’s make another file so the pattern stays intact but we can play with the shapes freely. Double-click a shape to enter isolation mode, then hold Shift to select one of each individual shape. Copy those elements and paste them into a new Illustrator document.
Make a Logo From The Icons
Now we can use these bits to assemble a Memphis style/vapor wave/abstract logo. In this exercise, I just moved the pieces around to make a little composition, or logo, from the pieces we liberated from the pattern.
We end up with logo that one could feasibly call hip, but more importantly, uses the elements from the original pattern. Now, we simply need to use it, along with the icons, across a campaign so it will all magically tie together and communicate unity via repetition of individual bits.
Use the Pieces to Create a Campaign
Lets use this on a stationery set to show what I mean by this concept.
Mock-up image via Twin Design.
On the letterhead, in the header, we see the full logo and company name to set the tone of the brand communication. In the footer I used a couple elements from the logo to highlight some information fields, like website and address here, using the familiar colors and shapes of the brand.
For the business card, one side has the whole pattern, while the other side uses the elements in a single row by the individual’s info, and is designed in way that suggests the logo pieces are a language or code. (You can go nuts with that, and you should. Easter eggs like coded icons really stimulate interest and interaction in design. Here’s a post about a really cool code used in design from artist Peter Saville.)
On the cell phone, the simulated screen shows you can take that code concept and extrapolate it into icons which denote navigation. In that situation, you could establish that the shapes have their own meaning. A viewer or customer would know from interacting with the brand that each shape has a familiar meaning, and would navigate using that familiarity.
Take These Concepts Forward to Your Own Designs
Now that we see how elements of a brand can carry across to individual pieces, we can use that thinking on future projects and campaigns. This type of larger scale planning helps you think of the whole campaign, while seeing how the details contribute to communicating the larger message.
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