NATworking is the first interregional network of spaces in Italy dedicated to work and study in nature. The group, looking for a coherent visual identification, announced a graphic competition aimed especially at young artists. Participants had one month to design colors, typography, logos, promotional materials and a website. I must admit that the competition was a challenge for me. Because it was one of the first attempts to independently use the previously acquired knowledge. I used the Design Thinking method in the initial phase of the project, looking for the right style for the brand. My project was appreciated by the jury and took 3rd place among 46 contestants.
Design Thinking Process
The Design Thinking method was used by me to better understand the needs of the NATworking group and make the first design decisions. In this part, I focused mainly on the colors and logo design, which served as a basis for the visual identification. The first step was to get to know the needs and character of the brand (empathize) and define the goal (define). This information helped in searching for ideas (ideate), designing solutions (prototype). Thanks to the method, I was able to see how the future users perceive the solutions I proposed (test) and choose the best design.
1. Empathize – get to know the brand closer
They are the first inter-regional group (Liguria, Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta) of space dedicated to work and study in nature. An active network of social promotion and local development that encourages soft tourism and the enjoyment of unexplored heritage. They are a team with complementary and transversal skills among other cultural presentation, creation of social networks.
The most important aspects of the activity:
- Living and working close to nature.
- Promoting local heritage.
- Supporting development of the local entrepreneurs.
- Sustainable development.
- Building a youth community of freelancers, smart workers and digital nomads.
- Promoting work-life balance.
- Helping to reduce the level of stress.
Photo of Shane Rounce from Unsplash
2. Define the goal
How can I help NATworking to create a visual identification and communication that corresponds with the idea of NAT-, NOT- and NETworking?
3. Ideate – mind map of ideas
In the process of creating ideas, I used a mind map that helped me discover non-obvious connections and choose the most interesting solutions.
4. Prototypes and a test of the first ideas
The first simple prototypes of the logo are in black and white. I asked a group of young workers to test the idea. I briefly presented the brand. However, I didn’t explain where the ideas used in the logo came from. In this way I was able to get an objective opinion on the legibility of the logo message. The feedback is presented next to the pictures.
Light Dandelion Net
- Personally, I like it the most. I associate it with work and cooperation.
- Excellent – as if it brings a little freshness and lightness.
- Perhaps it could refer to the agglomeration rather than the network.
- It is interesting to combine the net with a dandelion.
Geometric Tree House
- Simple with clear text.
- My associations: kindergarten or school, so it’s completely out for me.
- Very nice and funny.
- I like it but the sloth needs to be more clearly connected with the letter W.
Geometric Forms of Nature
- The shapes of mountains, clouds are fantastic, simple and understandable.
- It will look good on the rest of the identification / stamps because it is rectangular.
Geometric Forms of Nature
- Simple logo with clear text.
- Perhaps the inscription should enter the circle?
- I like the fonts but it is a less particular design.
5. Improve prototypes and a test ideas
I went back to the prototype phase to pick out the best ideas and make the appropriate design changes. Among the previous proposals, I decided to continue with numbers 1, 3 and 4. These ideas met with great interest from the recipients. They evoked appropriate emotions and associations. (1) Light Dandelion Net – delicacy, peace and community. (3) Working Sloth – youth, fun and sense of humor. (4) Geometric Forms of Nature – a combination of nature and modernity. I also proposed color palettes based on shades of green, blue and yellow. Then, I again asked other potential recipients of the brand for feedback.
Improved Idea 1
Light Dandelion Net
- A dandelion that gives lightness and immediately associates with nature. It evokes in me personally some positive associations, joy, sunshine.
- Definitely not, the dandelion is not associated with work.
- At first glance, from a miniature I would not associate with such an organization, rather something related to chemistry, molecules and these things.
- Too delicate colors.
Improved Idea 3
- This sloth is divine.
- If I had to choose just one, I would choose this one because it immediately caught my attention and stole my heart.
- Due to the fact that they are young, they can be with humor and this sloth can be an excellent idea,
Improved Idea 4
Geometric Forms of Nature
- It is the most modern and has a simple shape and refers to nature.
- It is so peaceful and relaxing.
- Probably the most universal, unifying the philosophy of the brand. Very accurate and aesthetic.
- Modernity and slightly sharper features.
- The graphics on the letters also make it easy to associate with nature.
Summary of the Design Thinking Process
Thanks to this method, I was able to test and quickly choose my ideas. Asking about the opinions of potential NATworking users, I learned what associations the logo evokes. For the rest of the visual identification project, I chose logo number 4 because:
- It is modern, graphic and simple.
- Unequivocally refers to nature.
- Its meaning was obvious to the audience.
- It has a form that can be easily adjusted depending on the needs.
Design of Visual Identification
The logo selected in the Design Thinking process became the basis for the rest of the project. When creating visual identification, I was guided by the main features of the brand: modern, aimed at young people, close to nature.
The Flegrei font is a geometric expression with Italian origins. Constructed from ruler and compass.
Use: logo – NAT, main slogans NAT, NOT, NET.
Le Havre is a geometric font inspired by the golden age of ships for passengers, when traveling to your destination was a pleasure in and of itself.
Use: titles and buttons on the web page.
The Arbotek characters represent an adventurous and serious approach, witty and well conceived.
Use: logo – WORKING, texts, event poster, website menu.
- New growth.
- Symbol of tranquility, health, relaxation, healing.
- It catches the attention.
- Increase cheerfulness and warmth.
- Symbol of optimism, youth, personal power.
- Create a sense of security and trust.
- Used in cooperative enterprises.
- Increase productivity.
- Symbol of peace, calm, serenity.
Graphic & Photography
- The predominance of blue and green with yellow accents.
- Simple, geometric shapes and patches of color.
- Illustrations complemented by a white line detail – floral motifs.
- Portrait photo in a natural setting.
- Photos that complement the website grid: abstract close-ups of nature elements: sky, water, vegetation.
Logo & Slogans
Modern, expressive and connected with nature. The new logo design has all of these features. For the upper part of the NAT logo and NAT, NOT, NET slogans, I chose a large and geometric font of Italian origin: Flegrei. The letters are integrated with simple and symbolic patterns relating to nature: vegetation, mountains, water. Natural colors give the logo lightness and sympathy. The lower part of the WORKING is written using Arbotek font. It is also geometric, but much lighter and more rounded. Something between work and play. The dark color makes it a kind of scaffolding on which the rest of the name rests. A bit like a treehouse. The simple, rectangular shape of the logo is very practical – it will work well in portrait or landscape orientation.
The website design resembles a geometric mosaic. The layout is based on three columns. Such a division makes it easy to supplement the page with new sections. The colors of the selected palette add dynamism and introduce an element of fun. The linear graphics of botanical elements are complemented by photos with similar motifs.
Site Map Scheme
NAT, NET & NOT activities
At the beginning, I placed sections related to the individual activities of the group, focused around the NAT, NET and NOT slogans. Each section contains a carousel with the most important information in a given field, a logo with a short explanation of the slogan and links to pages. For example, the NAT slogan is related to work in the environment of nature and local development. That is why in this section I have placed links to websites: reservations, search for events and tourist attractions.
About & Contacts
In this part, the user gets to know the group itself and the people associated with it. I have included here the most important information about NATworking, its mission and the timeline with the most important stages of its creation. There is also a gallery with portraits of group members and a place for the partners’ logos. The last part includes contact information and the possibility to join NATworking as a participant or collaborator.