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Ed. note: This case study is a selection from the
2011 “Making the Case”
competition, in which an esteemed jury
identified submissions that demonstrate the value of design in a clear,
compelling and accessible way. It serves as an example of how to explain design
thinking to clients, students, peers and the public in general, based on
Figment, an annual art and cultural festival in New York City, needed to establish a new brand identity that would capture the creative spirit of the event. Working together with Figment’s Advisory Committee, MSLK devised a clever and flexible solution to Figment’s brand identity, carrying the concepts to online and printed materials designed to promote the event.
MSLK worked with the Figment Advisory Committee to distill the essence of what the new identity should communicate. After a brief strategic analysis, it was decided that the Figment brand was best defined by three main messages: the event takes place on Governors Island, is participatory and is whimsical in nature.
Every year, Figment reinvented their promotions and brand identity in order to accommodate the various themes and styles of artist submissions. The challenge was to create a new image for Figment that not only was consistent and recognizable but also continued to foster Figment’s dedication to unbridled creativity.
The purpose of the new brand identity was to give Figment a chance to introduce the festival to New Yorkers outside the existing community, so it was important that it effectively communicated what to expect from the festival as a celebration of art, music, performance, sports and socializing.
Also, as an organization run largely in part by volunteers, Figment needed a solution that could be accomplished on a shoestring budget.
MSLK reminded Figment’s board executives that a year was a long time to expect the public to remember a brand. As a result, our strategy was to create a consistent and iconic vessel that was recognizable in form but flexible enough to accommodate the annual theme. This solution would then be extended across all media and uniquely promote the event year after year.
The Figment name and participatory nature of the festival made the visual of a thought bubble a natural fit. Paired with the tag line “What are you bringing?” the new brand identity encouraged participants to use their imagination and tap into their creative spirit. The thought bubble would become the structured vessel, allowing the content within to change annually as a solution to Figment’s tradition of different themes each year. In order to sidestep the challenge of which of the many Figment activities to feature in the promotional materials, we developed a series of illustrations that were whimsical in nature. This year’s theme was defined as being a “bright spot, fun and free of charge.” To incorporate all these elements, the location, Governors Island, became the center focus and bright spots were graphically interpreted with varying color gradients to showcase the variety within the festival.
MSLK suggested skinning the existing Figment website in order to keep costs low and to expedite the launch of the site. The header and footer of the website mimic the thought bubble visual creating an overarching element of fun, yet the actual content followed a systematic grid, which could expand and contract as necessary.
MSLK expanded the new Figment brand concept by creating promotional material for their City of Dreams event, a mini golf course with an artistic spin. The flexible nature of the new identity allowed MSLK to keep the shape of the thought bubble, replacing the illustration with a mini golf course. The trail of thought bubbles then transformed into an illustration of a golf ball bouncing to the green. In addition, the golf ball's position happily coincided with the “T” (tee) in the Figment logo.
MSLK was able to successfully unite the 22-person Advisory Committee and countless volunteers to create an identity that provided structure and room for creative expression. Our design solutions were well received by the client and eventually extended into additional promotional materials such as T-shirts, postcards and signage. The additional promotional efforts were successful in raising awareness for the event as art submissions and event promoters alike increased 200 percent from the previous year. Attendance for the event was up 30 percent. The City of Dreams attracted more participants than in any previous year and prompted the expansion of the golf course to go from the proposed 9 holes to 18.
AIGA’s “Making the Case” competition awarded
honors to design case studies that demonstrated the value of design in a clear,
compelling and accessible way.
Section: Events and Competitions -
Each year a discerning group of jurors meets to review entries for “Making the Case,” identifying submissions that will serve as an effective tool to explain design thinking to clients, students, peers and the public in general.
This year's judging for the AIGA national design competitions had its share of nail-biting moments, as jurors assessed aesthetics as well as proof of effectiveness.
Section: Inspiration -
Competition, metrics of effectiveness
Jonah Lehrer wows the audience with this presentation on
what science can learn by studying human creativity, and intrigues with
comments such as, “We’re all sacs of water and protein, anyhow.” Using
discoveries in modern cooking and music as examples he explains how what
may initially be shocking gets assimilated into the mainstream as the
mind finds patterns over time. Therefore, the best creations walk the
line between breaking new ground and channeling the familiar.
Section: Why Design -
Conference , business
Because in-house designers regularly collaborate with different departments, they can develop a well-rounded view of needs and opportunities within their organization. By applying their unique design thinking skills to non-design problems, in-house designers have the ability to effect positive change from within.
Section: Tools and Resources
In this collaborative project, a series of visual prototypes was designed to communicate essential information about malaria treatment and prevention—as well as safe sanitation habits—to the residents of Kibera, Kenya.
Section: Why Design -
communication design, ethnography, nonprofit, Design for Good, posters, cross-cultural design, health
In order to successfully brand a new gourmet Vietnamese-inspired sandwich shop in one of San
Francisco’s most expensive retail neighborhoods, the design team sought to merge Vietnamese street culture
the chic sophistication of an upscale retail experience.
Section: Why Design -
branding, experience design, identity design, service design, Competition, business strategy, identity system, packaging, signage, business
Handle with care
External Resources (cont.)
The L!brary Initiative
Thinking outside the chair
Alt Group Limited