At LOCAL, we know firsthand that real transformation comes from within. With each client that has trusted us with guiding them through change, we’ve seen over and over again how vital it is for a brand to both visually and verbally represent the vision of the company not just externally with customers, but also — and more importantly — internally with employees. So when it came to our rebrand, that’s where we started.
Over the last 5 years, we’ve gained a better understanding of who we are and how we best serve our clients with a unified purpose. Through a ton of meetings, whiteboard sessions, and emails, we knocked our brand down to the studs. After gaining insight collectively from seasoned and new employees alike, we sharpened the story we tell the world about our work. And then we worked with the geniuses at Proper to bring it all to life.
The result is a brand that properly (sorry) tells the story of where we’re headed: a team of seasoned creatives who make change stick. Filled with playful nods to our people and our passions, our new look is collaborative, spirited, and vital.
Here’s a Q&A with the founders & creatives of Proper – Jason Orme and Jonathan Lawrence – about inspiration, approach, & process.
LOCAL: Tell us a little bit about Proper & your individual roles.
Proper: Proper is our brand design studio. We focus on creating brand identities alongside people we enjoy, helping them with brand strategy, naming, design, messaging and all the various touchpoints. And our spin on all of that is to hopefully make it feel highly relational and effortless even though it takes a great deal of expertise, hard work, and intuition.
I (Jason) run the strategy side of the business with a bent towards design, and Jonathan runs the design side of the shop with a bent towards smart, intentional strategy. We find that we compliment each other well in that way.
L: What are some of your core guiding principles as designers that make your work uniquely yours?
P: I’m not sure these are guiding principles as much as how we are wired. We have these unique sensitivities that I think a lot of designers have.
One would be that we start with the problem. Our side projects have more of a self-expressive tendency where we are able to share our own view of the world. But when it comes to client work, we care to be a bit more objective than that. We need to diagnose what’s wrong before we set about making something better.
A second thing would be that we consider the whole. We can’t help but think about the bigger picture and the interdependent implications of the individual parts of the work.
The last thing that comes to mind is the idea of making it real. A lot of really great branding work can end up in a presentation deck on someone’s computer rather than being out in the world accomplishing its purpose. We want to make sure more of our efforts are going to make real artifacts and touchpoints that people interact with.
L: How would you describe your approach to design?
P: Apart from what’s been mentioned, this question probably gets at the heart of our iterative, collaborative process. We narrow from broad exploration to the final solution in everything we make. We get feedback from our clients along the way at what we have found to be helpful intervals and milestones. That way we are still leading, but never too far out ahead of where we need to be.
L: How do you walk the line between making sure the work is something that has the Proper zeal, but also is completely representative of the client?
P: Part of our job is to define who will care about the work we are creating. Actually, who needs to care about it? So it is a mark of our good work for a name or a design or a brand to not really reflect anything about us, or necessarily about our client, but to resonate with their intended audience. It’s a lot easier when we fit the design persona of their target, but a lot of fun to get in the mindset of another persona when we don’t exactly match up.
L: What attracted you to this project?
P: So much of why we set up Proper was to be able to get to work with people we like, respect, and want to help. Brooke and all of the LOCAL people are definitely in at least two out of three of those buckets. Just kidding. All three of them for sure.
L: What did you want to salvage from the previous brand & amplify in the rebrand?
P: Sure we kept the color palette, but that was a mixture of what the team liked and what was competitively smart to try and own. And we kept the idea of a simple wordmark for the logo, because it worked on a lot of levels. But overall, what we most wanted to bring to the surface was the core of your practice. That commitment to the idea of working with what you already have - working with and for the people that will make the difference in any program you create for your clients.
L: Do you have a favorite asset that you created for LOCAL within the context of this rebrand?
P: Jonathan is a purist at heart. He really loves the “L” logo symbol, and I can’t blame him. It’s so solid and confident. The proportions are great. Personally, I really liked salvaging the “Be Nice” asset and artifact.
L: Your website leads me to believe you all are jazz lovers. What’s the crossover between jazz & design?
P: As I mentioned at the beginning, we hope that working with us gives people a feeling. Just like jazz, we want people to enjoy the intuition, improvisation, expertise, and timelessness and for them to truly have a perception that it was somehow all effortless in a sense.
L: What’s your favorite jazz song?
P: Tough one. Jonathan would say Moanin’ by Art Blakely. I’d go with Stormy Weather by Red Garland Trio.
L: What’s your favorite LOCAL Atlanta spot?
P: Jason: I’d have to call it a tie between the High Museum of Art and Bell Street Burritos. Art exhibits and cheese dip, what can I say? Jonathan’s is Oakland Cemetery.
Jason Orme (left) and Jonathan Lawrence (right)