All right, I'll walk you through the entire process. Let's start with some sketches:
Some of the first sketches here. Nabovarsel has a pretty complex theoretical and filosophical backbone to everything they do, so translating all this into a logo and so on can be, put mildly, daunting.
Nabovarsel is a collective of people working within electronic music and art in Bergen, Norway. The first brief I had with them centered around the want to mirror the true side of the city, contrary to the image the munipiciality would like to show, as well as convey the non-conformity, counter-culture, Do-it-yourself-mentality and electronic music and art values of the brand. A typical case of wanting to say a whole lot with very few words.
Anyways, my first sketches ended up in this idea about merging the people, symbolised by the houses, and the city, symbolised by the mountains. Anyways, it didn't end up any good, and looked like a really bad corporate logo from the 90's.
So I got this idea for a pretty far out N symbol, with a little support by Erik Stokkmo. The N can split up, and become both the N and the V for the logotype. Begging to be animated!
So this is my conceptual backbone for these forms. The more primitive the base forms are, the more timeless the design will be, I have been taught.
But, as it turned out, that didn't work out at all either. I got stuck with this version a long time, working with impossible kerning issues, and various stroke widths, trying to make it work. No go.
Then I had an epiphany while sketching in the good company of Knut Harald Longva, taking the previous N symbol and working it into a circle, which is good for a number of conceptual reasons.
What I'm trying to say is, this idea had something going for it. This could work.
...resulting in the variations seen here. I settled on the most balanced one in the end.
For the colors, I wanted to keep things as minimal as possible. Using simple black and white as a base, with the blue to accentuate and an off-white as a base where applicable worked out really well. This way, we can print in only two colors, which also saves on costs.
And here is the finished version.
The color choice is based on starting with a bank-like "safety blue", and nudging it just the right amount towards a crazy purple. It's bright and energetic, but still means business.
Business cards, silk screened by hand.
And here it is in motion, too!
After a full year of use, I revisited the identity system, and made an analysis of what worked, and more importantly, what didn't.
This resulted in a new iteration, with these major steps:
consolidate the "full circle" version and the simple "N" version into a more unified form, usable in any size and media
Solidify the form to be more robust, as the hearline of the current version is to frail
Enable a more unified typography, with only one typeface used across the entire system, and a more settled logotype.
First off then, fix the frailty and make the symbol a real heavyweight
With this version, the N and the circle share the same width, making it sturdy as a rock.
Then on to find a unified typographic style. The first version used Code bold in the logotype and Archer in additional text, neither of which really brought home the bacon.
So I figured out Neutra text would be awesome, a classy typeface that strikes just the right balance between strict and sassy. It also works beautifully in all sizes, in Demi for display heights, and Book for full paragraphs.
Neutra also employs some really nifty ink traps, which come in handy when printing posters.
As you can see, I have altered the N and V to adher to the 37° cut and unify it with the emblem.
Here's a look at what some proper paragraphs of text looks like:
In stamps and watermarks in really small sizes and such, it's still OK to just use the emblem:
And there it is! This version is rock solid, conveys the brand through, as well as, if I may say so, looks smashing. Hope you like it as much as I do.
Now for some corny implementation shots. In printed matter, we need to keep the amount of inks down due to printing costs. So it'll be fun to use our main identity color, the disco blue if you will, as the base of some Duotone shots, using the blue instead of black. Like so:
Had to try a 3D implementation, too.
A whole new website, a story on its own.
It's a record label after all, it would be a sin not to include a record cover:
When I work with other artists and designers that will be using the system, I encourage playfulness and experimentation, within a framework of course.
The color palette in my design manual for example, is quite open for personal interpretation since the base forms are so recognizable.