One of our pro-bono clients, Shoes and Clothes for Kids (SC4K for short) is a remarkable organization with a unique mission: raising funds to purchase brand new clothing, Payless ShoeSource gift cards and school supplies for Northeast Ohio children living in poverty. SC4K is so effective, in fact, that it can take a $40 donation and turn it into nearly $900 worth of clothing for those who need it most.
Often, however, SC4K gets confused with other worthwhile charitable organizations like Coats for Kids. What makes SC4K so special is its commitment to providing kids with something new. Why new items, when there are thrift stores, clothing drives and other inexpensive ways to outfit children? Because there’s nothing like the feeling of wearing a new outfit for the first time or the excitement of picking out new shoes. Unfortunately, so many children in Greater Cleveland have never experienced that pride or excitement – something that SC4K is working tirelessly to change.
Our challenge was to create a new tagline and logo that captured that emotion while also visually communicating what makes their mission so very unique. Two things you should know about me: One, I have a soft spot in my heart when it comes to working with charities and other non-profits. Two, logos are my favorite things to design. So when the call came to take a new look at the SC4K logo, I literally couldn’t wait to start concepting. SPOILER ALERT: the idea that evolved into the final product was bouncing around my head while we were still in the project’s introductory meeting.
The work, though, had actually begun weeks earlier, when Stephanie and Patrick presented four heartfelt, impactful taglines as part of the brand refreshment. The chosen one – “More than new outfits. New outlooks.” – really struck a chord by both distilling the organization’s important mission and giving Nicole and I the perfect push to get our design minds working. From there, the visual concepting began, with ideas ranging from shopping bags to boxes to tags. We both sought solutions that communicated newness, felt shopping-related and also expressed the sense of pride and confidence children receive from these new items.
After presenting several options to the gang at SC4K, everyone enthusiastically decided to move forward with the mark you see above. With that in mind, I’d like to spend a little bit of time discussing the thought process that went into the final product. In the new mark, I started with the idea of a shopping tag, both familiar visually and something that would remain recognizable – and this is important – from a great distance. From there, I added the “heart-as-holepunch” as a subtle flourish, placing it within a circle in the same color (though lighter) as the SC4K deep blue.
Furthermore, I sought to provide a sense of action through typography placement and emphasize all parts of the SC4K name. Below the tag, in the familiar SC4K green, I set the tagline in such a way that it seemed linked to the tag yet distinctive in its own right. Sensing the importance of the “new outlooks”, I thought it would be interesting to place the entire mark at an angle, which forces viewers to have their own new outlook when shown the logo. In the end, I think that choice made a huge difference, because it lends a real sense of freshness and excitement to the final product. And isn’t that what the SC4K mission is all about?
It was a challenge, at first, to find ways to express confidence through the logo, so I made the decision early on to do so through choice of typeface. I went with Trade Gothic, one of my all-time favorites – especially in its bolder, more condensed faces. And in this application it works quite well, evoking a contemporary-ness and strength that help support the aims of the new tagline. I’m really proud of how it turned out; seeing it applied in print, outdoor and television outlets has only solidified that feeling. It was a real pleasure to be able to tackle such a project for such a worthy organization – one that everyone at Melamed Riley wholeheartedly believes in. Anything we can do to help further SC4K’s mission not only helps them, but it also helps thousands of children around the region. And what could be more meaningful than that?