August 14, 2019

Design Process: The Bonobo Revolution

Cowlick Appeal icon

The Bonobo Revolution

Our client, TEEM Innovation Group, came to us to redesign The Bonobo Revolution. They were ready to push it out into the world through a marketing campaign that involved a brand new logo and updated apparel. 

Created by Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker back in October 2018, The Bonobo Revolution was inspired by our distant genetic relatives the female bonobos and  is “nature’s answer to #timesup!”

Did you know female bonobos, “...Use their collective power to control food and dominate male bonobos”? (Source). And when a male steps out of line any two female bonobos will work together to stop them from dominating.

Krista Nordstrom of the Bonobo Revolution says it is, “...A collective sisterhood movement that puts the spotlight on women who help other women in radical ways, for the rest of the world to witness."

Can we say that’s badass? Totally.

And as the Creative Director of the Cowlick Appeal, I was ready to make one badass campaign.

The Initial Research

I consumed myself with all things bonobo. I read articles, watched videos, took notes, and stared at photos. I immediately had this massive appreciation for them, and soon, they became my spirit animal. It was official, I was going to live my life as a bonobo - A strong female, who dominated a room, and who was not going to take no for an answer. 

The Mood Boards

To evaluate what was working, what wasn’t, and what was missing from The Bonobo Revolution, I put together a mood board of their existing designs. 

The Bonobo Revolution's existing apparel

I loved how militant they were with their rough textures, determined demeanor, and humorous personality. It was apparent the original t-shirt designs were strongly influenced by “Guerrillero Heroico.” 

It was fantastic to see the bonobos holding up their raised fists in support for their fellow females. But it was apparent the artwork needed to be fixed to make it look more realistic. 

Dr. Tamsin wearing aviators, a beret, and bandolier was so inspiring, I knew I had to use it somewhere within the campaign. Where did she even get the bandolier from?

As I evaluated everything, I realized there was no need to reinvent the wheel because a lot of what was already there was working. All I had to do was elevate The Bonobo Revolution to the next level. Here’s how.

Visual Research 

Visual Moodboard

From the beginning of this project, I knew that whatever graphic I was going to create had to be silkscreened onto a t-shirt. The artwork needed to be flat, and that’s why I looked to Shepard Fairey’s work for inspiration. Fairey’s work is political, yet still human. It is soft, yet hard, and this type of juxtaposition would really work to The Bonobo Revolution’s favor. 

I noticed a logo was missing from the current design, so it was important we incorporated typography to the artwork. I researched hand-rendered fonts because let’s be real, revolutions don’t typically call for clean san serifs! 

And since we were going for the militant theme, I had one question. Why didn’t the Bonobo Revolution have badges?! They HAD to have them. It only made sense.

The Designs

My primary source of inspiration came from Dr. Tamsin’s revolutionary look. 

Concept 1: The Caricature  

It was funny, but it was too cute and too kid-like. It didn’t scream “revolution” or had the tone of a social movement. There was a disconnect between the artwork and the logo, and don’t get me wrong, the logo had potential, but the art was falling flat for us.  

Concept 1: The Caricature

Concept 2: The Badass Babe

This idea, on the other hand, had something going on! It was tangible, authentic, cohesive, and most importantly, it had a fun personality! It upheld the ethos of the original designs, and it made a statement and took a stand for something.  

Concept 2: The Badass Babe

To be honest, my favorite part of Concept 2 was what I endearingly called “The 3 Ladies”. I loved how all three had their own personality. They represented women from all walks of life having their own uniqueness, but were still united and supported by one another through a social cause. You had the serious one, the cool one, and of course, the crazy one. You can only imagine how hard I was laughing while designing them. I loved them so much. 

The 3 Ladies

And you know what? The client loved them too. 

Bonobo Revolution logo and color palette
Badge and Sticker Options
T-Shirt Designs - Front and Back
T-Shirt Color Options

Here is a quick time-lapse of how I created several of the badges.

The Take-Aways

Every project is a learning opportunity, so here are a few things to take away from The Bonobo Revolution: 

You shouldn’t limit your self to researching only on Behance or Dribbble. You should read articles and watch videos to have a better understanding of the subject. This will help ignite inspiration and help create stronger concepts and themes.

Remember, a design is excellent, but a concept paired with a design can move mountains and take you to the moon and back. 

And if you get stuck and can’t figure out an idea or design, go back to the beginning and review the project goals and vision.

Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to
Re-evaluate what you currently have and see what’s working and what isn’t. This will save you time, and also be a good starting point in tandem with your research.

Figure out what’s missing from the equation
While you may not need to reinvent the wheel, there is always-ALWAYS room for improvement. Assess what is missing, ask questions, and figure out how it can be elevated to the next level. 

Keep all your designs, even if they are not well-executed. 
I’m guilty of this. I delete a concept thinking it isn’t strong enough, but sadly end up wanting to use it for another idea. While one design may not work for one concept, it can probably work for another. 

The most significant thing I took away from The Bonobo Revolution was learning what a strong female looked like.

She is a rough and tough supporter of others, who can still hang with the boys, and always be her unique self. All while looking fabulous with red lipstick and standing up for a cause.

People tend to ask us, “What ideal industry do you ladies like to work in?” And to be quite honest, we don’t have one. We like all industries. 

Every client we have worked with has been an enormous learning opportunity. An opportunity to discover and learn new things that have actually bettered us as creatives, business owners, and even citizens of the world.