Designing a new identity for Woodland Action

As part of my initial site evaluation and proposal for the Woodland Community Service Center, I suggested the design of an organizational identity. Subsequently, the organization was re-named Woodland Action, and I got a burst of energy around the name. I worked through a design transformation based on the new name, and developed a full proposal. At the next meeting of the board, I came prepared to present my work. However, in the interim, the board had apparently tried to develop a new logo by committee, and I found out I had arrived just in the nick of time to save them from an absolutely abysmal logo. Friends don’t let friends design by committee. It was basically the most ugly and bland bank logo from the 50s.

I was able to present my competing proposal and to gather some feedback. I realized I would have to pull out all the stops at the next meeting. I re-presented not only my original proposal, but also I provided a primer and picture of the whole design process to give the board an idea of just what goes into the process. I also developed from the process a fully articulated narrative story, meaning, for the visual design.

Here’s my successful presentation to the board back in July 2014 which resulted in the board adopting my design for the organization.

 

Website and Social Media

Since the last meeting, I designed and implemented a website for the organization. I also created social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for Woodland Action, in accordance with the proposal’s Website and Social Media Strategy sections.

Due to a particular technical step necessary in signing up Woodland Action for Google Apps for Nonprofits, I was forced to prematurely switch the speculative website into production, so there are still some areas of the site which need to be more fully developed, such as text on the About and Services pages, for example.

However, the site is up and running. In addition to hours, location address and map, and other essential contact information, there is now a functioning PayPal donation button which can be used by members of the community to create one-time donations or subscription pledges in whatever amount they are comfortable.

The site can be found at http://woodlandaction.org and people who accidentally go to http://woodlandaction.com/ will be redirected to the canonical site.

Additional Logo Design Exploration

At the request of the board, I spend several additional hours engaged in further design exploration based on specific suggests, to give them a reasonable test. In case you were curious, here is a representative sample of rejects from my sketchbook to respond to the ideas of stretching “action” to fill the overhand space, which removes the ability to snuggly fit the arrow there.

Arrow Mustache / Too Displaced
Arrow Mustache / Too Displaced
WA much smaller / Too Much Whitespace
WA much smaller / Too Much Whitespace
WA Very Disproportioned / Too Action Comics / Woodland Offhand
WA Very Disproportioned / Too Action Comics / Woodland Offhand

A few example rejects which are responsive to adding text about specific services, and which then make the logo specific and inflexible for use with other services, including those to be introduced.

Government / Forest Service Seal
Government / Forest Service Seal
Wall of Text
Wall of Text

A few other representative examples of rejects which were from stepping back in the design process to see if I could derive a now option from some of the earlier sketches from which I had moved beyond.

Broken Arrow / Awkward
Broken Arrow / Awkward
Lightning Strike / Harry Potter
Lightning Strike / Harry Potter
Whale Head / Mr Yuck
Whale Head / Mr Yuck
Woodland Underwater / Wonder Woman
Woodland Underwater / Wonder Woman

The Story So Far

My initial design is described in the Organizational Identity Proposal from May 7th, which I include by reference, and here is the primary representation of that logo.

logo from May 7th

Shortly after the board meeting in June, I was asked to whip up an example with what immediate changes I could in order to have those for display at the Garage Sale and feedback from the community. The feedback I got from this design iteration was entirely positive, especially that some concerns about the arrow having unfortunate connotations were resolved.

Primary changes were to add drop shadows to text and internal design elements, improve the gradient based on a more solid colour palette, and to address the issues with the arrow by decreasing the vertical on the path (trail/road/river/landscape) and increasing the relative size of the arrow head (tree/mountain).

There is actually also a few pixels of space between the lines of text, but they were so conservative they don’t appear to exist.

logo for the garage sale

Current Design Recommendation

current proposalAt this point, the primary design example for the logo has developed significantly over the month from my initial proposal. I have included not only several suggestions from the board, other feedback, and some of my own additional design explorations, I propose the following logo for adoption.

I have increased the boldness of the design, through colour, color separation, and placement of new elements. There is obvious visual separation between the lines of text through both increased spacing and the use of two nearby hues. I have introduced a further refinement of the arrow, somewhat increasing the vertical spread on the path again, but have further decreased the horizontal area. I have also incorporated the idea for italics into the angle of the arrow head, instead of the text where it did not work well. I have also included a new horizon design element to further suggest that the arrow design is related to landscape, and also to justify the angle of the arrow head, which otherwise would be a tree in danger of falling, a dangerous mountain cliff, but, in any case, would break the narrative and symbolism of the logo. By including the horizon, the narrative and symbolism are not only preserved, but enhanced.

Further examples, related to the previous discussion of certain use case scenarios, can be seen in these organizational mastheads, which use the logo with and without the additional text which speaks to specific services offered and demonstrates the use of the icon design.

Full masthead

masthead food bank

masthead thrift shop

One specific issue that was previous addressed, but which I wish to reiterated here is that these are extremely scalable vector images which can be printed in many sizes, including large signs all the way through to letterhead and business cards. Further, the logo design is ideal for use on other collateral materials and tchotchkes such as lapel buttons, challenge coins, window clings and bumper stickers.

logo sized

logo sized

logo sized

logo sized

In one final example of how flexible this design is, and which was also previously discussed, can be seen in the way that alternate vector source images in high contrast can also be used against light and dark backgrounds as well as in cases where printing the logo in a single colour is desired, such as for extremely small sizes, silkscreening on shirts, or for inexpensive letterhead.

masthead bw

logo bw light

logo bw dark

logo colour flat

Narrative

The name Woodland Action is our concise and clear call to action in the local community, and encapsulates the mission of the organization to actively support people in need in Woodland, WA and surrounding areas. Our logo design is intended to reflect the mission of this organization and our connection to the region. The design was derived from the initials W. A. and through a design transformation the letters themselves suggested a shape that reflected the local landscape with river, valley, tree, and mountain.

The curved tail arrow is derived from the initials, but also suggests the two rivers, Lewis and Columbia, on which Woodland sits. It suggests the wonderful landscape of river, earth, trees, mountains, and sky. It suggests the professional and recreational paths and trails on maps of the region. But this arrow also suggests the path of life which can include times of need as well as times of success, and therefore the necessity for community support systems and mutual aid provided by caring neighbors for those in need. In summary, the arrow is a symbol of our mission of local philanthropic action, and the final upswing suggests the goal and triumph of hope and renewal.

Discovering the Occult Landscape

Over on my (even and ever still) experimental unbook site, I posted “Sigils of Imagination” where I explore my engagement with personal territory, my own landscapes. Inspired in part by the coursework I had at the time and my own outside reading of John Brinckerhoff Jackson, including Discovering the Vernacular Landscape, I developed a narrative of my personal travel and compared that with various representations of the landscape where that engagement occurred. Within that paper I suggest an addition of “imaginal landscape” to go with the set of “political landscape” and “vernacular landscape” developed in the work of Jackson.

In the essay “A pair of ideal landscapes,” Jackson, in addition to talking about odology, articulates a distinction between political and vernacular, or inhabited, landscapes. According to Jackson, the distinction must be made that the term landscape implies a place that has been changed by humans, a collection of “improved” lands. Once this distinction has been made, then the landscape can be further understood to be comprised of both those shared spaces that are political and those that are vernacular, or inhabited.

“… the political landscape is deliberately created in order to make it possible for men [sic] to live in a just society, the inhabited [vernacular] landscape merely evolves in the course opf our trying to live on harmonious terms with the natural world surrounding us.” (Jackson, 1984, p42)

I suggest further that there is also an imaginal landscape. Indeed Jackson appears to recognize not only the existence of the imaginal landscape but also the possible need for this landscape to inform and enrich a sustainable human relationship with the more than human. Jackson explains the way in which the imaginal informs the human relationship with the landscape:

“Any firmly held belief in the invisible, it seems to me, must somehow affect our attitude toward the visible world, and that might have been little more than a random plundering and destruction of the nearby wilderness became an exchange of benefits: those things which men took from the forest for their daily needs were repaid by our helping and protecting and loving the small, invisible creatures who lived there. They served as intermediaries, they reassured us that we were taking part in the natural order and were not entirely alien to it.” (Jackson, 1984, p53)

The political landscape is the realm of roads and sidewalks and crosswalks and monuments and historical markers. The vernacular landscape is the playground of worn grass paths, dérive, parkour and shortcuts. The imaginal landscape is the interaction the landscape has with us, territory with an agency of its own and place that is in relationship with us and our lives; places populated by a genius loci; offering liminality, twilight and borderlands. Certainly and likely these together could be the very model of a modern proper Popper fan.

 

Connecting with the link from the notion of an imaginal landscape to the dérive of Situationist International is Guy Debord’s Psychogeography which was to explore “precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals” [via, also].

The way that we engage the landscape is matched by the effect the landscape has on us. This relationship could also be subject to the method of engagement and our intentionality for the engagement. This relationship can also have synchronic and diachronic dimensions.

The method of engagement changes the nature of one’s engagement. A simple experiment around this is to travel the same route via different modes of transport, first via automobile, then via bicycle and finally by foot. Each reveals new and different features and obscures some previously seen, felt, heard and so on.

A way to view intentionality is as an answer to the question, “to what end?” The purpose, and the strength of that purpose, for which one is engaged in a particular landscape will likely and sometimes radically determine what one is able to plan for before, signify during and remember after.

Take for example the work Widdershins by Hermetic Library anthology artist The Psychogeographical Commission, which is a particular method of engagement for a particular purpose: “This recording documents the inner circle of the Glasgow Subway system which travels in an anticlockwise direction (widdershins), a constant banishing ritual performed daily upon the whole of the west side of Glasgow.” [via]

Connecting the past with the present and the future is to explore the diachronic dimensions of our explorations. For example, there are numerous projects which attempt to share images from the past of a place compared to the present of a place, such as Esoterica London which attempts “to draw connections between London now and London then, illuminating the correspondences between the city’s past and present.” On the other hand, objects like walls of clocks with times across multiple timezones and wistful thinking about what friends and family are doing, including connecting with them through now nearly instantaneous communication creates strong synchronic relationships that seem to span and shrink distance between places.

 

Recently, Rik Garrett, a frequent contributor to the Hermetic Library visual pool, who also created a blog specifically about Occult Chicago, started Occult Guide, “an interactive mapping website dedicated to locations of occult interest around the world”, and an attempt to develop a community around those activities.

Other projects that come to mind related to cataloging and creating community around wondrous, strange and occult places along our various landscapes are Altas Obscura, and the annual Altas Obscura Day; Julian Cope’s The Modern Antiquarian [HT catvincent]; and perhaps more imaginatively The Museum of Lost Wonder; to name a few.

 

There are numerous examples of personal pilgrimages and travel plans based on a desire to engage landscapes that participate in the wondrous, strange and occult; the sacred and religious, and transgressions of these same. Of course, there’s pilgrimages to holy sites, such as well-known and logistically boggling huge migrations to Mecca and such as small and lesser known places like the Well of the White Cow at Tara in Ireland. There’s also the profane and dark pilgrimages to places of iniquity like Las Vegas and those places in the world visited by the seedy sexploitation tourists. There’s also pilgrimages of personal liberation and inspiration, such as the flight of asylum seekers and those hopefuls who travel toward the bright lights of Broadway and Hollywood.

Specifically people choose how to engage various landscapes, and sometimes seek out the wondrous, strange and occult places where they can create for themselves personal narratives about themselves and those places. For example, Rodney Orpheus has a photo gallery of “Monday April 13 – the occult tour of London” in which is recorded for personal history some ephemeral moments along a group’s path of travel with notes narrating these now static stations. Consider also the personal narrative at “Occult Tour of London” that came from following the plan given in “An Esoteric guide to visiting London“. (Note that the personal narrative of that last tour points out a number of difficulties following the plan offered by the esoteric guide [also], which, I suppose, is quite a good reason to have such things in a community maintained dynamic guide instead of an individually maintained static one.)

 

Personally I’ve been flirting with the notion of trying to engage myself in writing about “travel, pilgrimage and magical retirement to far-distant countries, in exterior, interior and liminal landscapes” as part of what I hope to develop as a group blog, a collective of personal narratives, at Pilgrimage to Far-Distant Countries. (If only saying made it so, but the idea is still one I have in mind; one of a number of projects that require me to develop different and serious writing habits which may turn out to just not be in my nature.)

 

Do you know of any examples or have personal narratives of these things I’ve mentioned?