my designer brain
story: haille norris

When we started looking at refreshing the ust brand, changing the logo was first on my mind. Not just because creating a logo is an exciting endeavor, but also because I like to think people connect with brands that have a thoughtful/well-designed logo (or maybe that's just my designer brain).

After a few months of really honing in on our new brand identity, it was time to start bringing that true ust persona to life. We sat down and created a page-long list of words that best described the new ust. This list is what I would ultimately use as inspiration for my sketches. The design process really started by looking at logos of our competitors and companies that I thought had great logos (both within and beyond our industry). Taking a broad look at the logos in our industry, it was apparent that there were a lot that were pretty typical "outdoor company" logos (mountains, trees, etc.). This is totally understandable because these are things that say "outdoors" to consumers. ust being an outdoor brand that has a variety of products for all your outdoor adventures, I had the same challenge ahead of me. In our case, however, we had just spent months developing a new identity that screamed "fun", "enthusiastic", "unique", so I wasn't about to let myself design a logo that was anything other than that.

out popped our icon
With this new "inspo word" list, I created a vision/mood board to help inspire my sketches. This mood board is what I referenced every time I started drawing to make sure that the vibes of the brand were reflected in my sketches. And let me tell ya, looking back at my initial sketches, I laugh to myself at a few and say "what in the world was I thinking there?!". But sketching isn't about getting it right the first time, or the second time, or the third time (thank goodness). It's about getting thoughts out on the page so that you can eventually stumble upon something that might actually be awesome.

Graphic design is like going on a trip, having all of your gear laid out, and trying to figure out how to perfectly pack all your bags. You have to move things around, take things out, sometimes take everything out and start from scratch, in order to get the best pack for the adventure. So, after taking all of the ust elements and throwing ideas around with John (brand manager), I eventually decided that I needed to think about it in an abstract way. A way that gave you all the vibes of all aspects of the outdoors, without being super literal. And just like that, out popped our icon!

But it wasn't over once we had a direction for the icon. The other aspects of the logo still had to be thought about. If you've ever seen a designer trying to pick a font, you know it's a ridiculous task. We see things that other people would never think about when looking at a font. "That font has too much personality", "this font is too techy", "that one is close but it's not the one". It needed to be playful, bold and modern to match the icon style. I tried hundreds of fonts looking for the one that went well with the icon but also made sense for our new identity. Then altering and tweaking it to make it uniquely ours. ust is intentionally lowercase to give it a more inviting feel. One of our new values is being inclusive, so using lowercase letters is an ode to making it less intense or off-putting.

Last but absolutely not least, our new colors! The old colors were an orange and grey that did not make sense with our new fresh, playful vibe. But we did want to keep a piece of our old self, so we updated the orange (now our secondary color) to be a little funkier, a little more modern. Our new orange radiates sunshine, happiness, creativity, encouragement and fascination. But the biggest change is the switch to our new primary color, ust blue. This blue represents the sky, water, sustainability, confidence, trust and wisdom. We are very excited about our new colors and what they mean for our new brand direction. The new blue and orange won't be the only colors you see out in the ust universe! We also have an array of supporting colors that enhance our funky fresh vibe that I'm excited to get creative with.

heart & soul
I've designed logos in the past, but never have I poured so much heart and soul into crafting a logo to be the embodiment of a brand. Spending all those nights sketching after work (because I was so excited) really paid off. And finally, it's out there for everybody to see, so slap a ust sticker on your water bottle already! See you out there.