July 15, 2019

Making Tuft Love

Cowlick Appeal icon

The Backstory

On May 10th while I was at SDSU’s Senior Portfolio Review talking to graduating Graphic Designers about their portfolio and future aspirations, Virginia Slacked me asking…

“@jrae what should we call our newsletter?”

You see, we had been fiddling around with this new idea of a newsletter for a few days. We remembered that we had made a MailChimp account about two years before, but it eventually got shut down by the platform because of our inactivity! Oops!

We started to ask ourselves:

  • Why were we sitting on MailChimp, a valuable and FREE tool?
  • Why were we not using it to its full potential to generate leads and create connections?
  • Why weren’t we following the same advice we were giving our clients? We encouraged them to use free tools and create opportunities all the time— and here we were, forgetting to use them for our own marketing purposes. 🤦🏾‍♀️
  • And most of all, WHY WERE WE BEING SO DUMB?

We decided right then and there to stop the dumbness — and agreed we were going to put ourselves out there and quit being a secret! We were going to launch a monthly newsletter!

Maybe it was because I was talking to a bunch of bright-eyed art students for three hours, but when Virginia asked me the question about the newsletter, I immediately had an idea for a name and knew where the look and feel had to go.

The Name

The name had to be associated with the word “Cowlick,” and because it was Virginia and me, it needed to be punny! My mind immediately started racing down a list of words related to our name — You could say I was doing a quick refresher on Cowlick’s brand characteristics.

Here is how it went in my head:

  • Sticking up
  • Sticking out
  • Hair
  • A tuft of hair
  • Tuft
  • We are doing what we love
  • Tough love
  • Tuft...Love...

All of these thoughts happened within one minute. In fact, here is how our actual conversation on Slack went:

The Design

You see, design isn’t just about putting pretty elements together for the sake of looking pretty. You don’t design something because YOU like it — Design is purposeful. Design has meaning, and design decisions, like color typography, style, and imagery, are all based on a concept, and most importantly, your audience.

So therefore, the Tuft Love logo needed to look a little rough - it had to look hand rendered and edgy because our newsletter wasn’t coming from some automated computer, it was coming from two real women who wanted to share real thoughts and valuable information. Whether it was a business owner or creative individual who was going to read this newsletter- Tuft Love was meant to speak to everyone.

So how did I start?  I began laying out every single thing we had designed for The Cowlick Appeal: our style guide, our old mood boards, printed material, our website, business cards - EVERYTHING!

I created a new mood board for us; that way, I could visually understand where we started, what we had already done, and where our visuals could go.

My biggest obstacle was figuring out how was I going to tie in all these elements together to make sure this new logo looked cohesive.

I saw the visual evolution of five years right then and there. We had started The Cowlick Appeal very minimal and clean — almost timid, and later it transformed into something that evoked happiness, movement, embraced imperfections and stood out with a big personality!

The mood board gave me a sense of direction, and I knew I had to create a graphic that went with our primary logo, our tagline, and “Stand Out” graphic.

But how could I design something that kept the spirit of the original logo, matched our current look, and still fulfill the objectives I created for Tuft Love?

Easy, by incorporating our main icon with movement by using a hand-rendered font.

Of course, not all fonts are perfect - that’s why you go in and customize it yourself. ;) Scroll through the Instagram carousel below to watch a time lapse of the design process.

Did it work well with the primary logo? Yes.
Did it look cohesive with the Stand Out graphic? It sure did.
Did Tuft Love look like it was tangible and came from a place of love and authenticity? ABSOLUTELY!

With my research and experience, I was able to name and design our newsletter logo in just two days. How was I able to do that, you ask?

By utilizing some of our brand strategy tips, we teach our clients.  

To recap, I went down our list of brand characteristics, which helped with the name and look/feel of the design. Created a mood board, which gave me a clear direction of where I needed to go, and I wasted no time executing my thoughts as I started to design.

Virginia and I have always had a clear understanding and vision of what and where The Cowlick Appeal was going— and because I utilized our own brand strategy processes I was able to create a custom logo for our newsletter quickly.

Figuring out the name and completing the Tuft Love logo only made us more excited and motivated to get the newsletter out and into the inbox of our subscribers.

As I look back and reflect on this project, I realize how much I’ve learned in 5 years. Working with a variety of clients and brands helped, not only the Cowlick Appeal's brand evolve, but myself included.

I hope this blog post gives you a little insight into our design process, which I’m excited to share more of in each upcoming newsletter to help your brand also “Stand Out.”