Spectrum Printing: A Study in Brand Differentiation

Spectrum logo and exploratory sketches


Defining the Problem

The print division of Premier Election Solutions was planning to spin off as an independent printer with a focus on variable data and mail automation. At the start of the project, the department handled ballot printing for the election systems sold by Premier, and had a strong presence in handling variable data within the small niche. The stakeholders named the new company Spectrum Printing, and I was approached to develop a logo, stationery system and basic logo usage guide. Spectrum is one of the most common names for a printing company which I discovered during the research phase. Changing the name wasn’t an option. Developing a logo and visual identity system that differentiated them from the spectrum of Spectrums became my focus.

Exploring the Solutions

Exploratory sketches for Spectrum logo

I began by sketching 100 logos, evaluating the rough ideas and honing in on a few concepts to develop tighter sketches and type studies.

Spectrum logo concepts to explore
Ideas to explore further
Spectrum logo tight pencils to explore
Tight pencil concepts to be cleaned up

Creating the Form

After several rounds of refining the sketches, I presented a first look at three concepts in black & white.

Spectrum black & white logo version 1Version 1 references a printed halftone pattern with a sleek, digital mark that doubles as a monogram for Spectrum. The connectivity of the individual dots and the hexagonal shape imply precision and science. The logo mark could become an icon used as a design element, pattern or even a photographic mask across the brand portfolio.

Spectrum black & white logo version 2Version 2 is a nod to the old world craftsmanship associated with offset and even letterpress printing. The crest shape mimics shop signs of years past while the custom type adds a modern, digital edge to the overall feel. A printer’s loop placed on a halftone pattern within the crest references the attention to detail of Spectrum Printing.

Spectrum black & white logo version 3Version 3 plays directly off the name Spectrum in that the shapes at the bottom merge to create the whole shape of the monogram. In addition, the monogram pays tribute to the rollers of traditional printing.

Mixing the Color Palette

Spectrum logo color studiesThe client zeroed in on the craftsmanship approach of version 2, and we took an opportunity to modify the crest shape to take on the appearance of an open envelope, allowing the logo to touch on both print and mail automation. The color studies focus on playing up the name Spectrum while grounding the color palette in the printing space. I presented a few options to push the palette outside of the expected cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Finalizing the Solution

Final Spectrum logo in full color

Ultimately, it was determined that keeping the CMYK reference outweighed the chance to own a unique palette in the space, though I was able to shift the colors slightly from the expected use, particularly with the yellow.

Applying the Identity

Spectrum stationery package

The stationery application brings the whole brand to life with the mark creating a nice patterned element, and business cards in four separate color schemes to keep the stationery fresh.

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