TRÜF and the Unicorn (Client): An Identity Design Case Study

The following is a case study from past Logo Design Awards winner TRÜF (winner in the identity applications category). Check out other great logo design from past winners, and be sure to enter your work by this year’s early-bird deadline, Oct. 2!

Unicorn clients don’t come around all that often, according to TRÜF cofounder and creative director Adam Goldberg. As such, the studio was thrilled to work with Echo Capital Group, a new investment firm with a “millennial edge,” founded and run by millennial entrepreneurs. Echo had a lot of faith in TRÜF, Goldberg says, which allowed the studio to make this project a true embodiment of their philosophy—that “great design is about what you don’t do.”

The process of filtering out what not to do started, of course, with the design brief. Echo wanted to be seen as mavericks in the financial industry, so the goal was to develop a modern, edgy-yet-professional brand that would attract young, cutting-edge consumer packaged goods companies into their portfolio.

“We go through a fairly typical creative process where each step builds on the other until we get to a final design,” says cofounder and design director Monika Kehrer. During the discovery phase, TRÜF attempts to pull as much information as possible from the clients’ brains using a detailed questionnaire. Then, a series of meetings and conversations take place, after which the creatives do a lengthy concept exploratory that starts in a sketchbook and ends in Illustrator. They also make use of Google Apps for business (to organize and share documents with clients), HotGloo (for wireframing/UX) and (for remote presentations).

“We produce anywhere from 10–50 concepts and then painfully cull them down to 34 concepts to present as mood boards,” Kehrer says. “We feel it’s important to show the logo ‘in action’ by using color palettes, photography and initial design applications, so clients can get a sense of context and the visual system.”

The final logo design sprang from the concept of the repetition and duplication in an echo. “The designs are based on geometric principles which reflect the root of their business numbers and math,” Goldberg says, adding that they created the logotype out of handmade, modernist letterforms that echo one another through repeating squares and circles. “We wanted to retain the gravitas that a financial firm should carry but also have some room to add energy and playfulness when needed,” he continues. “That energy really comes to life on the business cards and some other select touch points.”

The award-winning results:



But of course, it didn’t come without a challenge. An “echo” is a pretty common word/name, so there were a lot of design clichés to work through. “Pretty much everything that we thought of first, second and third ended up in the trash bin,” Kehrer says. In addition, the identity needed to convey style, sexiness, modernity and seriousness all at once—and in the simplest way possible. “It was a tough nut to crack for sure,” Goldberg says. “But we like cracking nuts.”

Hitting that sweet spot between stylist and serious, modern and classic took time and energy—and that’s what TRÜF is most proud of. “We’re really happy that effort paid off,” Goldberg says. “More importantly, the client was thrilled and their business objective was met. Phew!”

They’re also proud of the wisdom they’ve gained from past projects, which they continue to put into practice. “Never use the whole box of Crayons!” Kehrer says. “Using a very limited and constrictive toolset can be totally liberating and can produce unexpected results. In a profession with endless fonts, techniques, colors, inspirations and styles, it’s so refreshing to step back and throw nearly all of it out the window and only rely on your raw instincts as a designer. What could we do with just a square, a circle and a few colors? The possibilities are endless, but it really challenges and defines who you are as a designer.”

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