Chandra Hira is a NYWICI member and Acting Art Director, Integrated Marketing, for Interior Design magazine. Previously, she was the Promotions Art Director at M. Shanken Communications, where she worked on all of their titles, including Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado. Here, she shares her process for the NYWICI branding and logo redesign, which she created under the direction of a small task force of NYWICI board members.
When you heard that NYWICI was looking for a designer to work on the refresh of the brand, you immediately threw your hat into the ring.
What attracted you to this project?
I was first introduced to NYWICI when I was a grad student a few years ago. Knowing what a great organization NYWICI was and its importance within the communications industry, I jumped at the chance to be a part of the rebranding initiative. While my design career has given me the opportunity to work on all different types of print and digital media, designing logos is my passion. To be able to create the branding for an organization that I respected and could relate to was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up!
What are the first steps you take when you begin a rebranding initiative, from a design standpoint?
After meeting with the client to discuss their vision and to examine their current branding, I research what others in that arena are doing. Then I create a list of word associations, followed by an image search on those words. It provides me with a lot of visual material to work with. I usually work up ideas in my head — particularly while I'm sitting on the subway commuting — so that once I sit down in front of the computer, I have a pretty clear idea of what I want to create.
What challenges did you face while working on the NYWICI rebranding, and how did you find your way to the solution?
Designing for NYWICI was such a pleasurable experience. The members of the committee were all in sync about the branding vision, so that really made the process go smoothly. The only challenge I faced was addressing all of the sub-brands under NYWICI, like the Matrix Awards, WiCi Awards and the Foundation. I felt they needed to look different from each other to avoid repetitiveness, but they also needed to be recognizable as NYWICI entities. To solve this, I created a “family,” wherein logos for the Matrix and WiCi Awards, for example, have a similar visual identity to that of the “parent” logo of NYWICI. I utilized the rounded-edge square — or “squircle,” as I refer to it — from the NYWICI logo in different ways, so that each logo would be distinctive, yet work in unison. Also, the same color and type style were used throughout to maintain cohesiveness.
Describe the vibe of the new NYWICI branding and why you feel it captures the essence of the organization today.
It’s bold, fresh and modern — just like NYWICI members!
The new branding is meant to signal to current members and potential members alike that NYWICI is a modern, must-join organization that will help them "connect, create, communicate" in the ever-evolving communications industry. As a designer in this fast-paced field, how do you yourself keep up with the changing landscape of media? What inspires you creatively and visually?The field is certainly fast-paced, especially when it comes to technology and its impact on the media industry. I read as much I can to stay on top of new trends. I also have a lot of friends who are fine artists and graphic designers and are a great source of inspiration for me. Sharing ideas and projects we're working on helps us all to stay current as well. Connecting and communicating is instrumental in creation.
Bonus questions: What first inspired you to become a graphic designer and where did you go to school to get your design training?
I was born in Manhattan and grew up in Bay Ridge. As a kid, I was always drawing and crafting, but I think my inspiration to become a graphic designer came from my first job in high school at the Brooklyn Public Library. I had to re-shelve books and magazines, so I spent a lot of time looking through them. That exposure allowed me to see how art could be used to convey a message or idea in a commercial sense. I received my B.A. in Communications Design from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and then got my M.A. in Graphic Communications Management and Technology at NYU.