Branding for Virtual Reality company using atomic design principles.
Deep Dimension is a Virtual Reality company started here in Austin TX and they are creating a next generation Project Scheduler application allow project managers to display, research, and interact with project data in new and innovative ways.
The Initial Design
I was originally approached to work as a UX designer prototyping the application in Unity. The project was intended to be a hybrid application using both web and native application, and therefore I suggested that we improve the branding and web presence so as to start the UX design out on the right foot (by establishing from the beginning an atomic design system that could easily be expanded over time) and hopefully recruit a more heavy duty architect to deal with the networking and online aspects of the service.
The initial brand design was…. lacking. This was the business card being used at the time. But that was easy for me to fix!
I’ve done my fair share of logos and illustrations and doodles over the years but after having dipped my toes into Systemic Design Components with Lodestone Social and afterwards reading Atomic Design Systems by Brad Frost , I wanted to approach my visual design in as systematic and organized a way as I had my UI design. This meant creating not just a logo, but a brand identity. Brand identity is a modular system which can be adapted to any number of possible contexts and allows for consistent presentation of a brand that appropriately relays semantic information about the brand.
I see visual design and in particular brand identity not as separate “aesthetic” decorations to UX and interaction design, but as a pillar in its development. Users see the product’s branding before they use it, and the system that underlies the branding will also underlie the visual presentation of the interaction design system. I wanted to push my visual design further through well documented and consistent execution of deliverables to the client, and I wanted those visuals design to be integrated together in an overarching visual brand system, that would then lay the groundwork for our atomic systems design components.
In order to systematize my deliverables for the client, I set up a series of milestones.
I met with the client and took extensive notes on what kinds of influences, styles, etc that they wanted to evoke with their brand. It was a pretty fun conversation and interview, with a focus on building as many reference points aesthetically as possible. I generated a word cloud and mind map based on my notes in order to visualize for myself what I saw as aesthetic and semantic connections.
I set up a moodboard to catalogue a broad set of ideas about the brand and its aesthetic. I showed these to the client and we talked about how these thematic ideas could be presented in the final brand identity.
Rather than go with the first idea that came to mind, I chose to force myself to evolve ideas through an agile sketching method, focusing on rapidly experimenting with ideas.
I then took these ideas and surveyed a wide variety of expert/non-expert opinion. I had friends, family, anonymous users on the internet, fellow designers, and people working in the target industry look at the sketches and pick out their favorites. I tallied up the results, narrowed my preferences down, and discussed the results with my client.
Once I had taken in feedback from people and decided which I liked best I started iterating higher fidelity versions of the final contenders. This point of iteration was also interesting for me because I had just begun learning 3D modeling and used my knowledge to mock up the brandmarks in 3D. From there I could procedurally generate a lot of different versions of the logos by adjusting the camera angle, location, and lens length (which shifts the size of the field of distortion in a camera’s viewport)
Finalizing the B/W and W/B logo and brandmark:
I discussed the iterations with my client and after some discussion he decided on 2 final designs which I then translated into final B/W flat vector logos. I also made a W/B version due to the way that white objects appears differently over dark backgrounds.
Color and Type Palettes:
Now that the black and white logos had be determined I set up a color and type palette to inform the rest of the brand identity. Colors were chosen based on their cohesion and balance and their relationship with the general color palette that had evolved from the earlier research.
Final color illustration of the logos:
I now needed to integrate the colors and type palettes with the brandmark into a single color logo. I went with a highly illustrative rendition of the Monuments logo for the business cards, and a simpler color logo for the company’s general use.
Brand identity package:
As part of the package for the logo, I designed branded stationery letterhead and envelopes for company use.
While I enjoyed my time working in the world of VR, it’s still a really up and down sort of place, so I’m afraid to say that I had to leave the company before their project was able to come to market. I took a job at Department of Labor on a very different sort of project, but one that nevertheless allowed me to continue and expand on my process towards systemic design in interaction and visual design.