Last year, we took on an exciting new project: designing the new service vehicles for W.E. Brown. When 2018 rolled around, we were so excited to see the culmination of our hard work hit the road. In today’s world, we are surrounded by multiple branded items at any given moment. It is a difficult task for brands to stand out among the noise, but our design team was definitely up to the challenge. Luckily, the personal investment of W.E Brown created an ideal collaboration of both strategic decision making and creativity. To understand more about the ups and downs of the process, I asked Diana Boven (our designer extraordinaire), to share her experience with this project.
What was the assignment?
Our assignment was to apply the updated W. E. Brown logo, brand palette, and retro-hip tone to their new Nissan vans.
How did you approach the design process?
Being a service company, their vans are constantly on the road, criss-crossing the Charlottesville area. This gave us the opportunity to treat them as billboards. Through research online and observing service vehicles on the road in our area, I concluded that less is more. I didn’t want to overload the vans with too many messages or visuals.
What was your biggest inspiration for this design?
The refreshed logo we designed was inspiring, with it’s circular form and interest of Mr. Brown’s illustrated face. In order for the face to be seen on the road, I realized it needed to be fairly large. Because the logo is intricate, I didn’t want too much competition from the other graphics on the vehicle. Knowing that mostly guys would be driving the vans, I wanted them to feel pride and a bit of fun – not old fashioned or boring. This led me to think about racing cars; why couldn’t a service van be a little sporty? That’s when the idea for the stripes surfaced.
What were your challenges?
Bringing enough personality to the van using the new circular logo and icons without looking too busy. Keeping a clean look but having it interesting. I believe the stripes helped solve this, as well as the creation of a pattern of icons along the bottom sides of the van.
How was the client involved in the process?
Very much. We went through several rounds, and their feedback was crucial. When they casually mentioned they were going to put the driver’s names on the vans, I realized that I was heading in the right direction with the stripes. When we first presented a design with stripes, I was not aware of the famous Mustang Shelby racing stripes. It was actually the client who made that connection. With that new information, I researched the Shelby stripes and studied their proportions and then adapted that look to the van design.
The client was also key in discussing how much contact info we need on the van. The consensus was that today most people don’t write down a phone number, they just want website address. And fortunately W.E. Brown’s URL is intuitive and easy to remember: webrown.com! This allowed for a much cleaner, sophisticated look on the van.
How did you solicit feedback internally from other members of the Nectar team?
Each round of designs was displayed in our creative room, and we dissected the elements until I had enough feedback and suggestions to go back to the drawing board. One key piece of info shared was that the van doors slide open, and when the door is open we wanted to be sure their logo was visible.
The highlight was when they loved the idea of the stripes! I felt this graphic would set them apart from their competition in the area. Many companies have white service vehicles, so we needed an element that would make W.E. Brown’s vans catch the eye.
Project low point?
After many, many rounds of presentations, the client was still not confident we had hit on the right design. It was a bit deflating at the time, however, being encouraged to keep exploring was exactly what the project needed and deserved.
Do you have any advice for someone that is about to undertake a big design project?
Think outside of the box. Research the competition. Take risks. Listen to the client. Don’t give up too soon- dig deeper into your creative spirit. Look everywhere for inspiration. Ask for feedback-another perspective is always useful and can jumpstart a new idea!
I am fortunate to have learned so many things from the thoughts and experiences of our team here at Nectar. After seeing this project come to completion, I strongly believe that if you invest enough of your time, passion, and creativity, the everyday things we take for granted (like a service vehicle) can become a work of art.