Atrios A Process Case Study

We are so often focused on presenting the final product of our work, we often neglect the steps that got us to that end point. Very seldom do we as designers come up with the final answer on the first cut. It’s often the result of combining iterative solutions and making minor tweaks before a design is ready for prime time.

This is particularly true of brand marks. In almost every project engagement, we develop more than one visual solution. For brand marks, we generally insist on doing three. In order to capture the range of concepts and executions available, it’s a disservice to clients to develop any fewer. Typically, there is the safe solution, which is fairly close to what the client may be expecting. This is generally done to address specific directives for which the client has asked. The second treatment is a bit more expressive, a bit less “corporate”, while the third solution stretches the client’s comfort level a bit. All the designs should be wholly appropriate to the client and project brief, but each one taking a different approach to the solution, but conceptually and in terms of the graphic execution.

We recently developed a brand mark and website for an online resource for homeowner associations. The goal was to provide an open and inviting forum for condo association owners, board members and developers who needed a resource that provided relevant answers and solutions.

We came up with the name Portico, from the Italian word for a porch leads to the entrance of a building or structure. In an earlier post, I wrote about how we had to begin anew when the name we came up with ran into a potential conflict with an existing company name.

What began as a challenge turned into an opportunity, as we renamed the company Atrios, a spin on the Latin term atria, the plural of atrium. After clearing any trademark hurdles, we came up with the following visual treatments for the brand mark.

This is the “safe” treatment. It's handsome and inviting and the color palette is a bit unexpected. The shape of the O suggests an opening or entryway, one that is protected as well.
This second visual treatment is a bit more illustrative. The two columns connote the legal and financial underpinnings which provide the core content of the site. The negative shape of the house suggest the house of the user which is being secured by the site resources. Highly evocative, it also works well at a small size and has immediate visual recognition.
The third visual treatment pushed things a bit further, going so far as to think of your home as your “space” and renders the word in dimensional type to make that association. The color is bright, dynamic, and the type is custom-rendered, which makes the mark that much more ownable by the client.
We recommended and the client ultimately chose brand mark number two. It had the most recognizable visual connotation to homeowners and felt most appropriate in terms of the overall graphic sensibility. The first one, while handsome, did not have as much staying power. We all liked the third one, but finally thought better of it. The shapes are handsome and readable, but conjure up images of packaging or box production.
So there you have it, the final mark as well as the ones that got away. We will be launching the Atrios site shortly which will provide a much better sense of how it works in the context of imagery and user navigation.