January 2, 2017

Featured Project: Ghafari

Creating a brand blueprint

Ghafari is an architecture and engineering firm that takes a personal approach to highly technical projects. After decades of success, they needed to reach new regions and grow their team but were facing tougher competition and a dwindling work force. Ghafari worked with One Design to tackle these business goals and work towards broader company initiatives. Over the course of several months, we developed a brand strategy, created a new visual identity, and built a website - all rooted in the company’s history, culture, and vision.

Brand strategy

We led workshops with Ghafari’s leadership team, interviewed their clients and team members, and delved into competitive research. Based on this research, we created a brand positioning framework centered on Ghafari’s ability to truly understand their clients through and through. It balances the company’s empathy and energy - it’s drive to support and advance clients through high performing spaces. After solidifying this strategic direction, we made the brand actionable by creating a messaging architecture, tagline, and communication guidebook.

A new tagline captures the essence of the brand, while an elegant and robust visual language takes formal cues from the nuances of the Ghafari wordmark.
The visual language has been applied to a broad suite of material, including digital, print, and environmental applications.

Visual identity system

The new visual identity brings the strategy to life. It distinguishes evokes the the strength and grace of Ghafari's work while distinguishing them from the competitive set. For the logo and color palette, we took inspiration from Ghafari’s graphic heritage but added a vibrancy and warmth. Throughout the design system, we use the G letterform from the logo as a grid, which led to dynamic page layouts in across the printed matter. The site marries each of the core identity elements into an engaging experience that clarifies Ghafari’s expertise, point of view, and accomplishments.

Comprehensive visual and editorial guidelines as well as with a robust series of flexible templates allow Ghafari’s internal team to confidently utilize the brand system moving forward.

December 16, 2016

The best articles that never made the One Weekly

Ever wonder how we compile the One Weekly? Throughout the week, the super smart, super connected ODC team submits articles to the Weekly editor for consideration.

Sometimes, for one reason or another, really great ideas just don’t make the cut. So we decided to search the archives and pick some of our favorite Weekly submissions that never made it in. But don't worry, we had very real, very valid excuses for why they were left out.

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December 1, 2016

One Of Us: Stacey Shintani, Senior Project Manager

Go beyond the LinkedIn bio to get to know One of Us.

Name: Stacey Shintani

Job Title: Senior Project Manager

What do you tell people you do? I manage timelines, budgets, and scope for web, identity, and strategy projects—but that's really all just a clever ruse to write neatly on whiteboards and keep things organized with Google spreadsheets.

How long have you been with ODC? I started on May 9, 2016.

What did you do before you arrived? I spent a mostly glorious 15 years at the University of Chicago's in-house web agency, Web Services.

What do you bring to ODC beyond your PM skills? Aside from the neat handwriting and a jack-of-all-trades web design background, I'm a beekeeper and was raised as a Buddhist, so I'm pretty solid on the calm, meditative front.

Settle the debate. What’s the best flavor of La Croix? Pamplemousse ALL THE WAY.

What music do you gravitate towards when you have to be extra productive? I actually have a hard time listening to music without getting distracted. So it's either got to be something gentle and familiar, like R.E.M or M. Ward, or else this 24-hour loop of the ambient engine noise of the USS Enterprise (a.k.a. the best white noise machine ever).

Name the moment when you realized you were part of the ODC family I happened to start work just before our 2016 ODC retreat, so I finished out my first week on the job by sharing a loft adjacent to a distillery with all my new co-workers. James brought along his guitar and sang Purple Rain while we were all still in heavy mourning for Prince. There may have been some tears.

Favorite Chicago neighborhood? My own: Bowmanville. Our neighbors are amazing. On a typical summer evening we might see the mom from two doors down teaching her daughter to pogo stick in the street, a couple from the next block bike by on a tandem wearing a suit and a dirndl to go serve beer at a German Festival, and the little girl next door come over for a free hug. All while we're hanging on the porch waiting for our friends to come over and pick up our dog (and us) for a beer at the dog-friendly taproom around the corner.

November 18, 2016

Featured Project: Modo Fuels

Smarter Fuels for a Changing World

Modo is an innovative company that transforms waste into fuel that powers today's modern fleet of jets, trucks, cars, trains, and ships.

When this forward-thinking client approached One Design, they had a brainy company name, a visual identity that blended in with their competitors, and a dense website geared towards industry insiders. To reach their visionary goal of solving sustainable transportation, they needed to reassess their brand and truly define their story. They turned to One Design to develop a unique brand strategy, a memorable and meaningful company name, a thoughtful visual identity, and a more engaging website.

BRAND POSITIONING We leveraged the Vision-Culture-Image Model to evaluate the opportunities, strengths, and limitations of Modo’s existing brand. Our goal with every project is to bring these three areas into alignment to support and strengthen each other.

One Design assessed Modo’s industry and competition to identify trends and opportunities for differentiation. We evaluated these findings alongside analyses of their business goals, organizational culture, audience psychographics, and broader cultural trends—particularly related to cutting-edge technology and sustainable transportation.

One Design renamed Joule in tandem with our brand strategy work. During the naming process, we identified four key themes and developed dozens of possible names for each. The final name, Modo, is Italian for “way” and conveys a method of getting from point A to point B. It evokes day-to-day travel as well as the broader, collective journey towards sustainable transportation.

During the brand strategy phase, we explored different ways of concisely capturing Modo’s vision. The expression “Smarter Fuels for a Changing World” resonated with the client so much that they adopted it as their tagline. Today, the phrase is used across the board as a way to quickly connect and inspire.

November 18, 2016

One Of Us: Brad Nowak, Project Manager

Go beyond the LinkedIn bio to get to know One of Us.

Name: Brad Nowak

Job Title: Project Manager

What do you tell people you do?
I manage scope, schedule and budget on web, application print and other design projects. But more that that I’m responsible for making sure that our team is empowered to do great work, which includes ensuring that we have open lines of communication and a good working relationship with our clients. I also manage to interject myself into the project in other ways in areas like strategy, user experience and others, where I feel I can make a positive impact given my background and experience.

How long have you been with ODC?
A little over a year

What do you bring to ODC beyond your sweet skills?
A love of family, a sense of humor, a taste for good beer, and a lifelong love of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs!

Favorite ODC moment so far?
ODC’s participation in the annual Cross-Park Challenge where we went head-to-head against other design firms in feats of athletic - and not so athletic - competition. I’ve been fortunate to work on a number of cool projects for interesting clients in my first year at ODC, but spending the day having fun with everyone at the company outside in the sun, being active, and indulging my competitive streak is definitely a highlight.


First CD/Album you ever purchased?
The first album I ever bought on my own with my own money was By All Means necessary by Boogie Down Productions (on cassette).

Would you rather be able to teleport or travel through time?
That’s tough, but I’ll say teleport. Loving to travel, traveling for work, living in the city, and generally being impatient, I’ll opt to reduce my time spent in transit. You can enjoy the journey, but if I could trade in my time spent in packed rush hour commutes on the CTA and security lines at the airport...

Favorite Chicago neighborhood?
Despite the gravity that Wrigley Field has, I’m going to say my neighborhood, Logan Square. I lived there for a few years almost fifteen years ago, and returned in 2009. It’s been home ever since. I love the diversity of the people who live there, the ever-expanding options for dinner and drinks and just the overall feel of the neighborhood. It’s a great place to live - and visit.

November 9, 2016

reCaptcha: No Bots Allowed

Recently, one of our client’s sites has been dealing with a large number of malicious bots signing up for its email newsletter. There are a few common strategies for dealing with bot traffic:

  • Honey Pot: Hide form inputs from users, but keep them visible to bots, so if they are filled in we will know it is being accessed by a bot
  • Confirmation Emails: Users are sent an email and are emailed a link to confirm that the email was valid
  • Captcha: Some sort of puzzle/question that a bot will have trouble answering

Due to the sophistication and volume of bots, we decided that the most elegant solution for this site was to use a captcha system. But what captcha system? A captcha typically involves showing the user an image of a word and the user must type out the word. Usually the image is warped in a way that a computer will have a tough time recognizing it.

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