This post is a case study written by friend and client Daniel Heuman, founder of Intelligent Editing. Read his harrowing tale about how a group of dancers eventually found their way to branding their organisation.

In an ideal world, designers can create a brand from the beginning. They can help clarify the brand message, develop a logo that communicates it and then design marketing materials around that. But often designers don’t have that freedom. The marketing material is fixed and the challenge is to design a logo that not only communicates the core values, but fits the existing marketing material as well. Blues Revolution, a blues dancing organisation in London, United Kingdom, recently discovered how much of a challenge this can be.

Blues Revolution started with a sketch that they believed perfectly communicated their brand values. They wanted to show that their events were different, fun and funky. So they took a revolutionary image and gave it a bluesy touch.

Blues Revolution

But the famous picture of Che Guevara is a copyrighted image. Its use for commercial purpose is prohibited. It communicates the values, but not so irreplaceably well that it’s worth any potential lawsuit.

Not to be deterred, Blues Revolution developed a website without a logo. They enlisted the help of a designer and the website took shape, centred around a Sheppard Fairey-esque image of a saxophonist in an underground blues club. The brand values were all through the website, but the logo was missing.

Blues Revolution

To fix that, Blues Revolution turned to 99Designs. They found a helpful designer who went far beyond the strict terms of a 99Designs contract and produced a set of images that showed blues dancing and classic images of blues, together with a logo-type.

Blues Revolution Blues Revolution

The designs were creative. They showed music and dancing and developed a clearly recognisable mark. But retro-fitting is a different challenge. The logos can’t just be attractive, they need to communicate brand values and fit within the existing design. Each of these images could have been the basis of the brand, but they didn’t use the ‘revolution’ concept and didn’t fit with the saxophonist. Having already developed the site, the saxophonist had become central to the brand message. For the logo to fit with that, it had to be much simpler.

In the final design, the ‘revolution’ element of the brand is communicated in two ways. The first is the typeface. Blues Revolution considered lots of military-looking typefaces:

Blues Revolution Blues Revolution

The fact that the final typeface chosen bears a striking resemblance to the A-Team is entirely coincidental.

The second is a red star. Harking back to the original che design, but with ‘revolution’ communicated in a more subtle way, the final logo fits both the website and communicates the brand.