August 2011

newsletter #2 institute 3 Mitchell

A think tank is not a new weapon

I and I and I make 3
Mitchell wanted a logo for his think tank, institute3. It centers on creating sustainability solutions, but it needed to be businesslike. So, nothing with a third-world feel. I wasn’t allowed to make the logo from sticks and mud.

“Sustainability” and “think tank” are pretty abstract things. If it were “institute3 Pony Ranch and Compost Factory” there would be tangible objects to work with, but Mitchell’s not much of a cowboy, so one of the avenues to follow involved the characters, “i” and “3.”

Some of the earlier ideas involved interlocking letters looking businesslike, dynamic and interesting. That would have been adequate but not perfect. Another used the characters to make an abstract butterfly. It made sense, in that the viewer sees the insect, representing creativity and delicate balance—appropriate for i3—then the i and 3. It gives the right feel and is a one-two punch that sinks the hook, like when you fall in love with the car in the showroom, but then the salesman offers a year’s worth of free grapes. You’re sold. But the showroom had a better car on the lot, one with seat warmers.

It was no coincidence that I was wearing my toga when I noticed that the Roman numeral for 3 is three i’s. It’s like Mitchell named the company specifically to make my job crazy easy! (He didn’t; I take all credit.)

Three capital, Roman I’s looked almost right, but kind of flat. But putting a dot on the first one is like putting a mole on Marilyn Monroe’s cheek: it upsets the balance, drawing attention and says, “Hey! I’m an I! I’m different from the other I’s and I’m proud!” I liked that a lot and thought I was done. But the I was lonely, so I put circles over the others. That made them people. The two were joining the one, which is what a think tank is all about—people coming together to create solutions.

So: businesslike, name of company told in a different way, visual hooks for interest, and depicting “think tank,” all in one very simple design. Bingo!

Good things happen when I wear the toga.

Make the colors all work together

If a photo with striking colors will be the star in your ad, use colors from the photo within the document to tie everything together. For example, you’re creating an ad for Igor’s Dude Ranch, and have a glorious sunset photo of a hunchback cowboy herding Frankencattle that all bear the head of Karl Rove. In Photoshop, use your eyedropper tool and sample the deep crimson of the sunset and the bloodshot cow eyes that are imploring “Kill me.” Note the CMYK mix, add it to your page layout program, and use it for the headline. Maybe there’s a peach tone in the closer clouds that can be used to color the box that holds your call to action.

Make sure that you’re not doing this job for trade.