A few months ago, I launched a project very near and dear to my heart (and soul?). I designed a brand-new visual identity for my church: First Hamilton Christian Reformed Church. I wanted to take on this project almost immediately after becoming a member 3 years ago. The logo and materials the Church relied on weren’t bad, but they didn’t reflect the energy and liveliness of the congregation using them.
Eventually, I started bugging everyone I knew on Church council. “…Can I do the logo? Please? Pretty Please? With a psalter hymnal on top?”. My request didn’t fall on deaf ears, but it did fall on ears that already had many other requests to listen to. See, around the same time I started pleading, my church was already undergoing a very significant makeover: a major renovation to the church building. So, I waited. Eventually, the pieces of reno project lined up, and the church formed a Communications Committee. With this committee established, and renovation progressing steadily, we were finally ready to talk seriously about what this rebrand would look like. First things first, I met with Pastor Chris and Brian, the chair of the Communications Committee, in late August. I shared with them my vision for a new look and my concerns about the old one, and they did the very same. We all wanted the very same thing – visuals that reflected the heart of this church. So, I went to work, and crafted a proposal to be reviewed by the Communications Committee in the fall.
Admittedly, I had been playing around with ideas for sometime, so I was more than ready to meet their deadline. The initial proposal went amazingly well! We were all on the same page, and possessed a very similar vision for our church. After a few founds of edits, we made the final proposal to the Council, and it was enthusiastically approved. Here are a few insights into my design process on the logo. The logo is comprised of two parts (icon + wordmark) and I’ve organized my thoughts around those two terms. If you scroll right down to the bottom, you’ll see a few examples of the brand at work.
ICON: The church icon is the primary feature of the First Hamilton logo. It serves as the central element, establishing the style and colours that could define the First Hamilton visual identity. I chose to feature a silhouette of our church building for several reasons. Firstly, it nods to the old logo design, and establishes a level of continuity. Secondly, First Hamilton is a church that is what it is because of where it is: our location is central to our mission and vision as a church. Thirdly, there is a sense of familiarity, comfort, pride, and community associated with the building that has housed so many of our congregation’s defining moments. It has been our place of laughter and lament; meeting and grieving.
While the silhouette bears some resemblance to the old logo, I’ve updated it with quite a few changes. For one, the church doors in this silhouette are much more obviously open. Our church is intended to be a welcoming environment, with doors wide open to the city around us. The open doors also allude to our the integral “missional” aspect of our church: we welcome those around us, but we also “send out” our members to spread the Word.
I’ve also used a stained glass motif to draw out the icon. This motif not only adds visual interest, it serves as a perfect metaphor for what a church body should be: Many different parts, coming together to create something beautiful. It’s rendered in many colours to reflect our intention to be a diverse community of believers. It’s framed by a warm yellow sun, representative of God’s light over all we do together.
WORD MARK: The word mark as shown in the logo is the suggested way our name should appear both with the logo, and on it’s own when there may not be room for the full logo. The proportions of the logo are as such because our colloquial name is often “First Hamilton”.
The word mark is set in a typeface called “Neutraface”. Neutraface is a typeface inspired by the architect Richard Neutra. Neutra, while mostly celebrated for his residential buildings, was also a commercial architect. He would craft large industrial buildings with functionality and beauty. This typeface provides a subtle wink to our city, Hamilton, by recognizing Hamilton’s industrial history, along with it’s ever-emerging beauty. It also uses much of the same clean geometry found in the icon design, and pairs with it nicely. Note that while I could have set the word mark in one of the icon colours – green, teal, yellow, or purple – I intentionally set it in gray. This gives the idea that the church icon is sitting on a stone foundation. We come from a rich tradition and history, and it’s on that foundation we build our church.
The next step in the roll-out of this look is working with the Communications Committee to draft all the additional supporting materials. With so many vivid line and colours, the letterhead, business cards, banners, and signage will all look refreshed, inviting, and joyful!