Design for a Design Association

In 2017 I was brought in to the IIDA, International Interior Design Association, to elevate their brand. With 15,000+ members, and 1,000+ local, regional, and international industry events per year, IIDA is the largest network of interior professionals.

Phase one of brand development started with a deep dive into what was the current look and feel, and to get a clear understanding of the market, as well as the various methods of communication that were being used. One of the largest hurdles I saw was the use of a logo that was hard to read and reproduce on digital platforms. Three years prior to my coming on board a san-serif typeface identity was created but not approved by the Board for use.

Phase 2 was two fold: I came up with a few different directions that the brand could take. This required presenting them first within marketing, than getting our CEO to approve the direction, followed by presenting and sign off to The Board.

I did this by showing The Board what our instagram looked like, with Headquarters and 35 chapters using the logo in various iterations that could not be identifiable. I had come up with a solution that would allow us to unify all the logos, chapters, campus centers and city centers with a new identity system using the logo not in use as the starting point that was a clean evolution to where we needed to be.

We created a short animation that showed the evolution of the old logo, and how we were maintaining some of the essence of it, as well as some of the line work, but moving the lines in a way that indicated growth, change, and flexibility. This was a way to show our design thinking as to where we were going with the new look.

The next part of the process including a new visual look and feel and was presented by showing them a cohesive series of applied applications that allowed them to visualize the brand as a whole. Knowing that one piece alone does not make a system, the concepts were developed to show a large amount of programing that include print and digital applications as well as packaging, wayfinding, premiums and experiential work.

The approved brand I created was developed as a flexible system that was designed specifically for the creatives that will be using it. With an understand that a brand is always evolving, we wanted to create one that would adapt. This system allows for flexibility and give those who use it to the opportunity to keep ideas fresh, different, and always changing while still maintaining key elements that denote the brand. We understand that design is not “one size fits all” and as technology, people, and the way we communicate and connect evolves, so does the brand.

The foundation of the brand is based on a system that consists of some of the foundational shapes you find in design. They contain lines, squares and triangles. How these shapes are used is up to the creatives that use hem. I think of them like bricks that you can take apart, blow them up, or use as containers for color, texture, and photography.

With so much incredible interior design photography to work with, it felt that having a color palette as part of our brand detracted from the work we were showing, the story we were telling, and how we wanted to create a symbiotic relationship between the organization, our members, and the people we work with. We did this buy keeping our logo to only black and white, which allows it to sit nicely against any photography, illustration, color or texture that it is against. We also allow the color palette of the pieces we create to be guided by what it is we are trying to communicate. This means that we can embrace as much or as little color as we want.

The system developed embraces a new paradigm; How to create something unique and yet familiar. How do we move forward and yet still create a strong visual narrative that is distinctly IIDA? The design thinking behind the new visual voice does that while also giving parameters to stay within so that there is some consistency between the thousands of marketing materials that are created each year by Headquarters, chapters, campus centers and outside vendors.

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