Two by Fore Interactive Graphic Designer, Angela Buttjes, describes how she and our team rebranded Okanagan real estate agent, Alina Lovin.

Alina Lovin's former business card. Too many elements, not enough punch

Creating Her Brand Strategy

Like many real estate agents who come to us, Alina sought to elevate her brand to the next level. She’d already built a reputation as one of the leading real estate agents—first in Vancouver and then in Osoyoos—but her brand didn’t reflect the multi-faceted, commanding agent she had become.

My job was to breathe enormity into her brand, forging a direction that represented where she works, and how she buys and sells real estate. Our Brand Strategy process identified five brand attributes and three brand comparisons that drove the design process. I’m going to pull back the curtain as far as I can on that process (some of the specifics are not only confidential…they’re also our trade secrets reserved just for clients).

 

Designing the Look and Feel

Moodboard examples of classic geometric shapes and vivid colors
After Alina gave the Brand Strategy the green light, design development kicked into high gear. I built a visual library of images, typography and colours into a moodboard that created a look and feel for the five brand attributes. Images that were bold and clear, yet still vibrant and approachable. The visual direction would rely on structured grids, classic geometric shapes and vivid colours.

 

Developing the Logo Concepts

Assorted font styles, black and color on white background
Assorted font styles, white on a grey background
For the logo, the main focus needed to be on her name—which, after years of advertising, was well-established in a small market. At the same time, Alina didn’t want a play on Lovin (so the obvious puns were out). We needed a mark based on her name, while also holding strong for any application—from the tiniest favicon in a web browser to a massive billboard logo.

Building off the findings of our visual exploration, I began sketching possible angles for the logo’s shape, style and sizing. Like all client logo lockups, we had to consider how the logomark would marry with the wordmark. I decided to emphasize Alina in the wordmark by using varying weights of Alina and Lovin for emphasis.

As my sketches evolved, I narrowed the logos down to two main concepts:

Logo 1

Large stylized initials, A + L letters merged, over full name, first name above last
I based the first concept on classic modern design and some of the most iconic identities of the 20th century, those developed by Massimo Vignelli for 3M, American Airlines and Knoll. These logos rely heavily on beautifully set, simple typography that have stood the test of time—and for good reason.
3M, American Airlines and Knoll logos

Logo 2

Large stylized initials, A + L separate. First name beneath A, last beneath L.
The second concept, and the one Alina ultimately chose, brought both simplicity and boldness to her monogram. I distilled the characters from her first and last name, celebrating the geometric forms of the A and L. Then I explored combining and overlapping those forms to create a uniquely strong and balanced mark.

 

Building the Brand Elements

The logo was only the beginning of Alina’s brand story. To define the rest of her brand, we needed to finalize the colours, typography and visual treatment that would form a complete identity system.

Squares showing brand colors and text pairings.

Considering her target audience ranged from Millennials to retirees, we had a steep mountain to climb to design a brand that would resonate across age groups.We chose a saturated and diverse colour palette. While we’d typically select colours in singles, her brand demanded a more daring move. We recommended colour combinations that would really make her marketing materials pop. The flexibility of so many colours let her brand speak to a multitude of emotions and audience. Bright sky blues and warm greens inspired confidence, while red and orange hues created vibrance and energy—all in a multitude of tones that mimic the unique market and feel of Osoyoos.

Body text comparisons showing caps and lower case for five options.

When it came time to select the typography, we searched over 40 different fonts, weights, and spacing before landing on the Google font Muli. Inspired by the classics but with a modern flare, Muli is a minimalist font that is specially designed to be used digitally while remaining crafted enough for print materials. Whenever possible, we try and use Google Fonts for brands. Not only are they free, but they can be used consistently across both print and web materials.

Examples of pattered overlays in teal, navy and yellow.

With the foresight that images of Osoyoos would be an important part of Alina’s brand, especially as her typical buyer is looking from outside of the area, we decided to create a series of unique geometric patterns and shapes to be used as overlays. Given that nearly every other Osoyoos agent used local photos, this was a way to make the images uniquely Alina’s. I was thrilled that she embraced this part of the design. While unconventional, these patterns opened another level of visual touchpoints for her to draw upon. Bold and different, they add a distinctiveness to all her images and created a visual attribution to her brand.

The last step in Alina’s identity design was her Brand Standards Guide, which outlined all the potential uses for her logo, typography, colours, geometric patterns and association with the RE/MAX brand. While we had the opportunity to rollout Alina’s new brand across all her marketing materials (click here for the results), we always want to ensure that anyone working with our clients’ brands do so with consistency.

For more on the Brand Identity Process and how to rebrand yourself or your team, click here. And to see why Alina should be where you send all your Okanagan referrals, see her website here.

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