Brand Evolution: Menlo Hardwoods

by | Sep 24, 2016 | Case Study

Menlo Hardwoods Case Study

The Kickoff

The engagement always starts with a series of interviews. Usually, I will have a one to two preliminary meetings with a perspective client. Once I fully understand the client’s needs, I will draft a scope of work and said deliverables. This is very important in that it keeps the lines of communication very open and ensures that both parties are on the same page. This is the client’s chance to look over the scope of work, without any type of commitment, and determine all the specifics of their wish list. Once they agree upon the scope, I can create an official estimate and contract. Then the real work begins.

Creative Strategy

Art Direction


Brand Development

Brand Guidelines

The Process

My next step here is to create an official questionnaire, a document with a series of questions which will help further define the needs and goal of the project. This is really helpful for the client because it engages them into the thought process. It’s one thing to tell me what you want to see, but it’s another thing to think intelligently about your project and articulate with words what it is exactly that you want.

From there, I will review the answers and we will have one more conversation to make sure we both understand what is needed to complete this project to the client’s satisfaction. I usually follow this up with a Goal and Strategy Document which outlines the project Goal and a Brand Definition. I want to define the brand and it’s significance is. This way the client can agree or disagree with the direction I want to move in. Once approved I can move on to research and the creation of my mood board.

The Mood Board

When I perform research, I tend to look at all different types of resources. I will reference books, other designers, competitors in the space, influences, etc. All the research is a process which helps nurture and foster the incubation of ideas and thoughts. These are all components which will eventually create the blueprint and foundation for the creative direction and theme for the project. I then translate my research and findings into a Mood Board. It is with the Mood Board that I incorporate preliminary colors, key words and phrases and design elements which pertain to the direction of the solution I want to move in. I am providing an example of Quest Groups’ Mood Board here.

The Design

Once the client approves the Mood Board and is happy with the direction of the project, I then start my sketching and visual development for the logo. The goal of any successful mark is that it MUST work in black and white first. Colors, visual treatments, shading, etc., these are all secondary. This is the reason why I always work in black and white in the beginning stages of design. I also like to work “rough” which means no ideas are ever labored or perfected, particularly in the early stages of development. I want the client see the work and idea, but also feel like they have the input in the design. This way, the design is more collaborative and the client feels their needs and ideas are being incorporated.

Design Presentation: Round 1

Given the subject material, we were presented with a really great opportunity to explore the marriage of natural and modern design elements. My goal was to present a marriage of these elements in a very graphic nature. My philosophy is that simple is better. So, in this first round, I wanted to present a simple black and white graphic element in conjunction with sophisticated typography. All of the organic shapes were directly associated with the products raw materials.

Menlo Hardwoods Design Round 1

Design Presentation: Round 2

Because of the research and planning I do in addition to the series of client interviews, I am typically able to nail down a client’s vision for their project within the first to second round of design. I attribute this entirely to the process of asking the right questions and listening very closely to what the client wants.

In the case of Menlo Hardwoods, they were very happy with the first round of designs I presented to them. It wasn’t long before they decided on a specific direction for their new logo mark. Here you can see they wanted to move in the direction of using a logo in the shape of one of their gorgeous live edge wood tables. This allowed me to design several variations of the logo shape while incorporating the same typographic lock up. I also felt we were ready to present color at this point, which also directly referred back to the original mood board presentation.

Menlo Hardwoods Design Round 2

Design Presentation: Round 3

At this stage, the client has chosen a definitive direction for the logo. After presenting the different options and variations, they chose a logo shape and color direction. So in this round, I was able to not only produce a final mark, but I made some final tweaks to streamline the typography as well as present variations of the mark itself for different applications.

Menlo Hardwoods Design Round 3

The Final Product

Menlo Hardwoods Logo, Case Study

“We wanted our brand and logo to be able to translate our product into a persons mind without a word being said. Marwan was instrumental in providing us with a professional image that was more than we could of imagined. Marwan’s creativity and vision helped us create a brand identity with our business values together in a very authentic and bold LOGO that truly represents what we are. This is a partnership we have, and I would have no other than Marwan in my corner.”

George Bazlamit

Proprietor, Menlo Hardwoods