BigWing Brand: Taking Flight

Published: April 13, 2017  by 

new BigWing branding
Things look a little different around here – have you noticed? Luke Southern, our very own Graphic Designer Extraordinaire (not his official title … yet) refreshed our brand and we’ve got to say, we’re pumped.

Luke Southern
Luke Southern, our graphic designer

We’re still the same BigWing, just upgraded. We have a new look, a new logo, and a slightly new name. That’s right, we’re BigWing no more.

“We dropped the ‘Interactive’ from our branding to provide more flexibility as our service offerings continue to grow,” BigWing VP and General Manager Marilyn Hoeffner said.

Not only is our new look clean, modern and friendly, there’s a story behind it.

How our new look took flight

Luke started working on the new logo during his first week at BigWing, unbeknownst to anyone but him.

“When I was in between working on my first assignments at BigWing and needed a mental break, I’d think about what a different logo could look like and sketch it out,” Luke said. “I started my first drafts of it on a sticky note.”

BigWing logo sketches
Luke’s first logo sketches

Our new mark is based on one of Luke’s original sketches. But more on that later.

Why we decided we needed rebranding

There are two main reasons we decided to rebrand. One was practical. The other was emotional.

“My first months at BigWing, I listened,” Luke said. “I heard people talking about the brand and people would come to me, maybe because they knew I was a designer, with their opinions on the old logo. I was fortunate enough for people to come to me and say ‘I don’t like it or it’s not us.’ That’s what I would hear the most — ‘it’s not us’. The people that actually make up BigWing, the specialists who work hard for our clients every day, didn’t feel the logo on their shirts conveyed who they were. My goal was for everyone to be proud of the logo and want to wear it even when they’re off the clock.”

Our first logo was outsourced, which is common for growing companies. And at the time of BigWing’s creation, there were many stakeholders involved with branding, which made it so many different design elements found their way into the logo.

“The old logomark was fluid, light, and had a finesse to it,” Luke said. “But there was a stark contrast between the mark and the words and the words weren’t created with a typeface that we could use in other places.”

Previous BigWing logo
Our first logomark

The old design also included at least nine different colors and at least three gradients, at Luke’s count, which not only made the mark busy, it created complications in its practical use.

“We felt there were some limitations in the former BigWing mark, both in terms of its usability and versatility, and in terms of how the mark aligned with the rest of the BigWing brand,” BigWing Director of Creative Marketing, Grant Zellner said.

“Printing was complicated because of the design, and embroidery was near impossible,” Luke said. “Photographic use was rough, because no matter what color photo you used, at least one part of the logo would blend in somehow. It forced a lot of compromises to make it work and be useable.”

A design for the ages

So Luke created quite a challenge for himself. He wanted to build a brand that felt like BigWing. One that felt comfortable, professional, friendly, and knowledgeable, but was also modern and clean. He started by removing all the style from the logo.

“By removing all the nuances, like the gradient, it will look modern and clean in 10 years,” Luke said. “There’s always going to be a bounce between including more and less detail in design and branding. Right now less detail is in. More detail will show up again, but it will always come back to simple. We recognize the most classic logos, like McDonald’s and Motorola, are simple.”

In Luke’s first working designs, he incorporated a feather and split BigWing similarly to the existing logo.

bigwing logo iterations
A few of Luke’s design ideas

But, he said he realized that a feather wasn’t the right direction. So he went back to the drawing board. He came back to that sticky note on his desk, where one design stood out in particular.

“Essentially, I started from scratch,” Luke said. “It took a lot of trial and error. I came back and saw the drawing I did and thought I could play with that. The mark itself literally is what BigWing is — it’s a big wing. It’s also understated. It’s simple and iconic and fits us. Plus it fits with the letters in BigWing as well. It has a timelessness about it and can work at any size – remarkably large to impossibly small.”

Luke intended the mark to live on the left of the word “BigWing” so he took one of his sketches, flipped it and lined it up. Once he thought that worked, he searched for a typeface to compliment the mark.

“The font for the logo has the personality I thought BigWing conveyed – modern and approachable, professional but a fair amount of casual,” Luke said. “It was quirky.”

Luke chose the font not just for how ‘BigWing’ looked, but for other reasons, too. For example, a typical sans serif font ‘R’ has a straight tail, but this font doesn’t. Even though BigWing doesn’t have an ‘R’ in it, the ‘R’ will show up whenever anyone needs to use the font for anything that’s BigWing branded, like reports, case studies, and marketing materials.

“The little detail it has on the ‘R’ is memorable,” Luke said. “It has that little bit of fun and is an added bit of personality.”

Traditional sans serif R and Filson Soft R
(Left) Traditional sans serif (Right) Our new typeface: Filson Soft

After he made a typeface decision, he tweaked the mark so things like the weight and corners matched the typeface. The design was ready to be shared.

Although Luke started working on the logo in September, he didn’t share his final design with Grant until mid-November.

“I didn’t want to come across as the new guy who came in and had a criticism of the logo,” Luke said. “There was a certain level of respect to be had with something like branding and I didn’t want to assume anything about the company. I wanted to work and feel out the culture here first, so I sat on it for a month and came back to it. Branding shouldn’t be rushed.”

“In collaborating with the other teams, I had the opportunity to learn more about BigWing and the team and I started to feel confident that this was a better direction.”

Luke shared his work with Grant as a BigWing Brand Guide, as if Grant was a stakeholder. He presented one packaged deck, with information about the logo, the mark, the brand colors, and the way the brand should be used. Grant and Luke then shared it with Marilyn, BigWing managers, and OMC President, Chris Reen. Everyone was on board and ready to present it to the team.

While it may seem that he created this brand all on his own, that was not the case.

BigWing colors brand guide
One of the Color pages in our new Brand Guide

“Everyone was involved but nobody knew they were involved,” Luke said. “I asked people about how they would describe BigWing or if they had to convey BigWing to me with a single adjective or word, what would it be. If they asked me about it I just informed them it was ‘brand research’.”

Luke’s hard work paid off.

“It’s not just ‘there’,” Grant said about our new brand. “It’s genuinely likable. People seem to like the idea of wearing it, of showing it off a bit – not unlike the ways some people proudly wear their Nike workout gear or proudly stick the Apple logo on the back window of their car.”

“BigWing’s brand is reflective of our evolution as an organization,” Marilyn said. “We are excited about our new look and will be working over the next several months to complete the brand transition.”

In short, we’re just getting started.