Designing a bank deposit campaign

If you work for a bank or credit union creative team, you know exactly how I have feel when the word "Deposits" comes up.  It's like getting an automatic writer's block, in this case a designer's block.  Creating marketing for a product as bland and boring as a "Deposit" is perhaps the biggest challenge for visual designers because of the lack of visual queues we can connect to the word "Deposit", especially if we are trying to go for the unconventional.  Producing a unique design and successful creative while communicating the strategic needs of our brand is even more difficult.  Most banks usually highlight the rates in big numbers.  I am sure you have seen those everywhere.  We've also done that, to be exact it was last year, but we went a little more unique by creating the numbers out of US coins.  It took quite a while to create the graphics but the result was very successful.

2015 Deposit Campaign Example

2015 Deposit Campaign Example

For this year's campaign we wanted to do something different and more unconventional.  We did a brainstorm session where our fantastic writer and I started to play with words that we could connect to the effort, such as "Power Up", "Charge Up", "Electrified" came up.  From those words I quickly came up with two ideas to pitch.  For the first idea, I wanted to utilize the wealth of creativity that our company has to offer, and in particular the film Monsters, Inc. came to mind.  My idea was to show the scream canisters but here used as canisters where people keep their money.  For the second idea, I pitched the visual of a battery charger (such as a jumper cable) where the money is getting charged.  After the meeting, I began creating concepts for both pitches since I had a little time to work on this project.  The canister idea was interesting but when I went to design concepts for it, I quickly realized that it was going to be difficult to explain what the canister had to do with the idea of charging the money.  For the second idea, I was able to find a perfect image on iStockphoto of jumper cables charging dollar bills.  The image is exactly what I was looking for but it was not going to be enough to be convincing and engaging.  I quickly looked for other images or sparks and electrical charges and was able to find some good choices that would work well for the project.  Finally, I decided to use an image of metal texture for the background that closely matched our brand style.  For typefaces, I decided to use a newly released modern clean font, something that no one has seen before in order to focus on a more fresh and new experience.  I found a good font called Sullivan that came in three different versions: Regular, fill and bevel.  I went to work once I had all my assets.

Fall Savings Project.png

My design process is very internal.  I am able to get ideas in the brainstorming process and layout the elements in my head.  I remember when I started to work as a designer, I sketched everything.  Mostly they were blocks in a page to help me place the main elements of the composition.  This helped me better visualize to the point that today it is a completely mental process.  I can see visuals in my mind, and slowly create a full picture of what the design will look like before it is fully completed, often before the end of the creative session.  I know when I do not fully understand a project because I usually have a hard time visualizing it in my head, and that is when I ask a lot of questions.

Once I had all my graphic elements for this project, I started in Photoshop to color manage the image of the money with the jumper cables because the money didn't appear as colorful or as lively as I originally wanted.  I proceeded to mask the image from the white space.  Next, I pulled elements from the vector image that would work well in the space.  For visual clarity, I was conscious to keep the money clear from the sparks and electrical charge effects while still showing the effect across both positive and negative sides.  I actually ended up rounding some of the effects in order to better frame the electrical charges around the money.  Finally, I added the sparks right where the metal connected to the money.  Since the raster image of the spark was dark enough, I was able to apply a screen effect to the layer to remove the black space from the photo.  I added the spark on each connector. 

Completed Print Full Page Ad.

Completed Print Full Page Ad.

After the effects, I added the background and played around with drop shadows to give the design more depth.  Once the design was completed in Photoshop, I moved on to InDesign to lay out the copy.  Normally, I will do a preliminary headline in the same Photoshop art file for several reasons. First, I can align where the headline will go in the InDesign workspace, and secondly, it may give me more opportunities to be creative by adding effects to the headlines, something that is not possible in InDesign.  For this particular project, I ended up including the headline in the Photoshop file in order to give the design even more depth.  The body copy, call to action, logo, tag line and disclosures were placed in InDesign and the composition was complete.

In-Branch Horizontal Digital Slide

In-Branch Horizontal Digital Slide

For this project, We created elements for the web and for our in-branch digital posters.  We had motion graphics created that took full advantage of the sparks and electrical charge effects on the money. 

Refreshing The Bassmaster Tournament Brands

In 2009, while working at ESPN Outdoors/B.A.S.S. I had an awesome opportunity of being part of a brand refresh.  B.A.S.S. created various tournaments including a grassroots program called the Federation Nation Championships, Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Bassmaster Women's Tour, and the highest professional tour, the Bassmaster Classic.  All these tournament brands were designed by different people at different times using different styles.  In 2009, we reached a point where we needed to consolidate the brands into one cohesive look to support that these came from the same house.  Not only were the logos different from one another, but they all utilized different nomenclature, and they all felt individual instead of part of a whole.  

When the company decided to look at options for a new portfolio of tournament brands, it hired an external design firm to mock up with some options for us.  One day my supervisor stopped by my desk and showed me the designs that the firm had been working on.  My face said it all, I was in shock.  Not because I liked what I saw, but the complete opposite.  The comps we received did not show any creativity, depth of design, or understanding of the history of the brand.  They did not express what the brand was about and more importantly, the marks didn't push the brand forward into the future, while respecting it's formidable past.  The brand needed to be pushed forward to a contemporary audience exposed to digital media and social networks.  The marks actually looked like someone had taken the simplest version in the old portfolio and only updated the color and fonts.  I asked my supervisor if our leaders would let me come up with a couple of options and after confirming it with the VP of Marketing, I got the go ahead to work on the project independently from the external design firm.

The samples below show you the variety of design aesthetics used on all the individual tournaments. They all said something different. 

Bassmaster Tournament marks prior to brand refresh.

Bassmaster Tournament marks prior to brand refresh.

CLEAR BRAND NEEDS
From looking at the brand marks we owned at the time, it was clear the logos needed to look more connected.  I also considered where the logos would be used (in uniforms, print ads, billboards, television brand ID, promotional products, brochures, way-finding signs, etc).  I looked back at what we had and started to draw some concepts based on the more favorable designs.  The Elite Series logo was perhaps the most contemporary and engaging of all the marks in the old portfolio.  It was the most different and it aided as the starting point to step from.  After analyzing what I had to work with, I quickly realized that there needed to be a specific hierarchy to settle before finalizing the overall design.  The Bassmaster brand was utilized across all tournaments, therefore it needed to be an important element of the design.  We also needed to showcase the primary brand that started it all, the B.A.S.S. brand, but this presented some challenges.  For the main brand, Bassmaster was the repeated factor on each of the old tour names.  But they all called the Bassmaster brand in different ways.  I took the brand Bassmaster as the primary brand, but connected it to the B.A.S.S. shield through the overall design. The order became clear and worked well across all tours: 1. Bassmaster; 2. Name of Tour; 3. B.A.S.S. shield.  All marks would carry the B.A.S.S. shield as the umbrella brand that held all these tournaments together.

Bassmaster Tournament marks after brand refresh.

Bassmaster Tournament marks after brand refresh.

THE DESIGN PROCESS
At first, I started by creating a couple of shape versions for the overall design of the mark.  The first shape was very similar to the old Elite Series logo, oval in shape without the olive branches.  The second was the shape of a bass fishing boat viewed from the front, with some overlapping graphic elements.  I then proceeded to create shape concepts in Illustrator in order to call out the main shapes that would hold the letter forms of the brand names.  Once the main shapes were identified, I worked in Photoshop to add visual effects and prepared them for presentation.  The second shape ended up winning when I presented the designs to the senior leadership team.  This was the most dynamic and fresh of designs from the two options.

The next step was how to separate these tournaments, beside their naming convention.  We could have simply created one version in one color with the different naming conventions.  There is actually a step process similar to the medal options in an Olympic competition.  In order to qualify to compete in the super bowl of bass fishing competitions, the Bassmaster Classic, an angler has to make it through the Bassmaster Opens and the Bassmaster Elite Series.  Following the metal comparison used for Olympic medals (gold, silver, bronze), I used a bronze color/metal effects to denominate the Bassmaster Opens Tournaments, a silver color/metal effects to denominate the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament, and a gold color/metal effects to denominate the Bassmaster Classic.  At the time, there was an active Women's Tour, and for this mark, we used a red color/metal effect. Finally, I utilized a blue color scheme representing water to denominate the Federation Nation, which is the originating club where most professional anglers come from eventually.  The design concept was complete.  

The creation of the logos was not as easy as it sounds.  This took hours of work in Illustrator to get the exact shapes needed, then work in Photoshop testing different type of metal effects, colors, special effects, lighting effects, etc.  I especially took care in building lighting effects from different directions so that the marks would look more lively and engaging.  These logos needed to be large enough to be used in billboards or small enough to fit in newspaper or magazine print ad.  Finally, all the logos needed to have excellent visual clarity for use in television broadcasts and digital channels.

In the tournament library, only the professional tournaments carried the full color three-dimensional design, helping to separate them from the rest.  For each individual logo, I created a vector option of the raster logo design in order to guarantee the quality of the logo if it was blown up for large scale banners or other large output.

Once the brand marks were approved, the brand style guide was created to incorporate every version needed, such as black and white versions, reversed, and flat versions of each tournament brand.  The style guide included the usual: color styles, do's and don'ts, and specs.

The response from these logos have been very positive.  I will never forget the day when our tournament event director viewed the logos for the first time and said that he would be proud to wear his baseball cap with the new tournament logos on it. 

Tournament Brands in Action  From top to bottom: 2016 Bassmaster Classic large scale digital signage, Bassmaster Opens signage and trophy, Bassmaster Elite Series angler collectible cards,  The Bassmasters  Television Programming.

Tournament Brands in Action
From top to bottom: 2016 Bassmaster Classic large scale digital signage, Bassmaster Opens signage and trophy, Bassmaster Elite Series angler collectible cards, The Bassmasters Television Programming.