Celebrating 10 Years
Upon Linchpin’s 10th anniversary, the team collaboratively worked through a branding exercise to refresh the agency logo. The original logo had grown local recognition in the digital agency industry over the past 10 years, but was starting to feel dated. Our goal was to refine the typography and refresh the logo mark for a modernized look and feel that better reflected our focus in technology while also remaining reminiscent of the original branding.
1: a locking pin inserted crosswise (as through the end of an axle or shaft)
2: one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit
Source: Merriam Webster Dictionary
We’d be lying if we said rethinking the Linchpin brand wasn’t a challenge—after all, everyone seemed to really like our logo mark, including ourselves. Inspired by a linchpin itself, the concept behind the logo mark still stands true today; as a team, we make up a critical, yet often unseen, piece that holds together elements and bridges the gap between the client and their audience. We knew we wanted to maintain this concept in our rebrand exercise, and visually portray it through the logo mark. And so began our exploration…
After weeks of sketches and critique, we took a step back to examine our ideas and decide how to move forward. Do we make a drastic change in the visual mark and hope that it will resonate as well as our previous logo had for so many years? Or do we try to maintain the general look of the mark, and instead focus our efforts on the typography?
A Brand Evolution
We came to realize that the original mark portrays the meaning behind the brand really well, and veering too far from that just seemed out of place. Taking another look at the original mark, we saw an opportunity to refine the design ever so slightly in a way that would not only refresh the look, but would also maintain the integrity of the brand.
Refining the Mark
There were certain challenges with the original mark that we wanted to resolve this time around. It lost a good amount of detail at smaller sizes, forcing us to make visual tweaks or redraw the mark depending on implementation. We were constantly increasing it’s weight, while trying to add more negative space for better scalability.
Updating the Typography
After revising the logo mark, we began to explore options for the Linchpin typesetting. The original font was Knockout—a condensed, bold style with two weights, only truly legible when set in all uppercase at a large size. The limited versatility forced us to move away from using the font as body copy, reserving it strictly for headings.
We knew this time around we wanted to use a font that was legible at varied sizes, rendered well across browsers, and offered some additional styles or weights. We examined fonts and made our selection based on their compatibility with the logo mark, and readability qualities: a generous x-height, prominent ascenders and descenders, comfortable letter spacing, open apertures, etc. (learn more about choosing fonts for the web here). We even momentarily entertained some serif fonts, and the benefits of using a system font (more on that here), but came back around to a sans-serif font to best reflect the logo mark’s hard lines, and to incorporate a modern yet simple style that wouldn’t take away from the logo mark.
Many logo lockup sketches later, we landed on Montserrat—a font that fit all our needs, maintained legibility at a range of sizes, and provided a family of weights and styles to strategically implement. With such a versatile font, we didn’t feel the need to introduce a second body or heading font, keeping our styles minimal and consistent, and our website load time down.
Montserrat Google Fonts
We customized some elements of the logo typesetting for unique letterforms that were not only reminiscent of the original logo, but also reflected elements of the mark. The slices that were previously only included on the P were now on several letters, and are equal to the width of the negative space on the logo mark. This helped tie the type and mark together, making them feel more like they were two cohesive parts of a whole.
After years of living with a strict color palette (ie. black and white, with the occasional gray thrown in), we were excited to introduce some color to the branding. When selecting the color, we took into consideration how legible it would be as small text, when placed on a white or black background, and what it would look like in other mediums seen off the screen. Known as Linchpin Blue around the office, we had grown to like the bright, techy-shade of blue gently dispersed throughout our website; it plays a nice complement to our black and white palette, providing a pop of color we felt was needed.
Although Linchpin Blue is the only color currently used in the branding, we expanded our palette to include a range of colors that are strategically use throughout the website, marketing materials, and swag.
Setting Ourselves Up for Future Success
Prior to the brand evolution, we didn’t have any set guidelines or rules around how to implement the logo. Throughout this process, we made sure to define specifications along the way. We established when and how to use the full logo lockup, versus when it’s appropriate to just use the logo mark; we provided guides around the spacing, sizing, and scaling of the logo; we determined when and how color plays a role. While the brand guide acts as our reference point for any logo usage, it’s something we are continually building on and improving over time.