You’ve probably watched the TED talk by Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. According to his philosophy, people don’t admire a brand for how you create a product, or even how great your product may be, but the vision and “why” behind an organization. In theory, people are emotional beings that desire to feel inspired, and products aren’t very inspiring. But why you exist and the future you believe in is what forges inspiration in people, and through this inspiration, brands can build an engaging and loyal audience. Defining your why has now become a cornerstone to much of the business world.
For us here at DC, we are for the ambitious. This statement has been our lifeblood for quite some time now, and it is the foundation for everything we do. While part of this is manifested through our Dream Big program, it remains true through all of our client relationships. We love working with leaders who shake up the world and dream of a better place for us all.
In early 2016, the pioneering and ambitious brand, One Stone, approached us with a challenging and exciting new opportunity. They needed to bring their “why” to life. They were ready for a rebrand.
The One Stone Story
A Boise nonprofit, One Stone has been shaking things up since 2008 and recently took an even bigger step towards change. In 2016 they created a new, student-first, educational environment for Idaho youth. Their program empowers high school students to learn and practice 21st-century skills through experiential service, innovative initiatives, social entrepreneurship, and the radical reinvention of learning. Their work is rooted in design thinking, where they uncover new ideas that pave the path to disrupt the world for good— improving the status quo for lasting change. Through this, students learn and practice critical skills: empathy, collaboration, communication, leadership, innovation, critical thinking, adaptability, and creativity.
They operate through four different platforms: Project Good, Two Birds, Solution Lab, and One Stone School. Through these platforms, students, business leaders, and educators collaboratively work together to create innovative, modern solutions for today’s toughest challenges. In fact, we had the pleasure of working both with One Stone leaders and students alike during the entire process. They firmly believe in the education and training of students through real-world activities and we were able to bring that philosophy to life with their own students. They helped us with brainstorming and concepting, giving feedback, and much more throughout the project.
So, how did we move forward with the new look for such an incredible organization? Well, as usual, it all started with the brief.
This particular brief was clear and to the point. As an established brand, we already knew the audience, vision, mission, and personality of One Stone. We sought out to create a fresh identity that would resonate with teens and parents (consumer audience), and local decision makers and leaders (stakeholder audience). The brand needed to be fun and inclusive. When people came to the website, unaware of One Stone, we wanted them to feel refreshed and pleasantly surprised that this is happening in Idaho.
The work would include a new logo system, creative guidelines, miscellaneous design elements, and early, rapid prototypes of a new website to come in the near future.
As with most of our projects, the work was kicked off with a brainstorm and sketch session, getting out as many ideas as possible, and asking even more questions. We dove deep into the heart of the brand. What makes them who they are? How do their mission and vision make us feel? What feelings or emotions do we want to convey? Who are they reaching? Among the dozens of questions that emerged, we got to the more insightful and actionable moments of our process.
We knew, at our very core, we would avoid all cliché solutions to a name like One Stone. We wanted to move away from the traditional ripple logo and bring life to this organization. After all, innovation, creativity, and passion are such core components to One Stone’s brand, their style should be the same.
Initial sketches were brought to life. The hundreds were whittled down to the dozens, and dozens to the few.
Here is some of the early process work.
Early on, we knew a key element of the brand would be the logo diversity and ability to morph into any of their four different platforms while retaining an attractive consistency. Utilizing heavy patterns, clean lines, bright colors, and bold typography, we quickly developed a consistent language we would use throughout the process. One Stone is a devout advocate for design thinking, so process, imagination, and solution became strong descriptors of the work. We had found the new look we were searching for.
Beyond the logo, numerous graphical elements were created to represent their core beliefs. This mostly included items that would stand out on the primary navigation, be alongside pictures, and be used in print material. The congruency of the brand on all elements was critical to the success of the new look. We developed a series of what some of us like to describe as a sort of “Mario Bros. tube puzzle” look. Using blocks, arrows, and other icons the design represented movement, finding solutions, and creativity.
Many creatives will often tell you their work is never done, but when we all sat down together and unveiled the final designs, it just clicked. It was a beautiful extension of everything the brand represented in a fun, contemporary, and distinctive fashion.
Welcome to the new One Stone.
What Makes Great Work?
We love where this project has gone. In the often gray world of education, the brand stands out as a shining beacon of ideas.
One of the most paramount pieces to the success of any project is the relationship between the client and partners. What we love about One Stone is their leadership is pioneering and they are willing to take risks. It is so easy to play safe and make baby steps to your goals. But every once in awhile, an organization is ready to take a leap of faith. A complete rebrand is scary, and we get that. There is so much at stake and a lot of challenges to overcome. But their willingness to give feedback and work quickly and efficiently brought the work to life. Furthermore, we made transparency and honesty a core component of our meetings. We were not afraid to say no and give clear feedback to each other. Together, we scrapped a lot of great ideas and worked through tough challenges to get to where the brand is today.
We will continue to work with One Stone as they continue to breathe life into the world of education. If you or somebody you know has a high school student who would like new challenges in education, we would encourage you to visit their website and apply to be a part of their program.
For us, this project will go down as a reminder that we are for the ambitious. We do a range of work for many different organizations around the nation, and if you feel that yours is ready for a rebrand, we would be happy to explore ideas with you.