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What do you get when you mix a little American ingenuity with German engineering? No, not a VW, but something just as cute. A new logo? Perhaps. Here at openbox9 we recently wrapped up a new logo for American Institute of Contemporary German Studies (AICGS), and would like to share with you our process of creating their new identity.

AICGS works to strengthen relationships between the US and Germany in an ever-changing economic and political landscape. They analyze developments and trends in Germany, Europe and the US, providing networks and promoting dialogue among business, political, and academic communities. The new AICGS logo needed to convey partnership between US and Germany while remaining neutral, as well as hinting at the global nature of AICGS’ research and analysis.

In this case study I’ll be focusing on the process of creation for the final logo. We presented 6 concepts initially, after sketching pages upon pages of ideas. Below is a progression of a few initial sketches– from one of the earlier ideas on the top left corner to the one we chose to work with on the bottom right. The concept for the logo was motion and interaction between two points of the globe, taking visual cues from bridges and transatlantic flight routes.

aicgs sketches

After working with the idea on the computer, this was the rough black and white concept we presented to AICGS:

aicgs logo round 1

Some merits of this idea were that it portrayed the idea of partnership and that the icon and name were contained in one mark, but it needed to be pushed to show more motion and dimension. So we worked on refining the shapes while also starting to work with color.

aicgs sketches

During refinement, we explored several options to beef up the curves and create more depth to the logo. A large part of the refinement involved getting the curves drawn correctly, with consistent widths and ending points to fit the typeface.

aicgs logo round 3
aicgs logo round 4

After rounds of revisions and refinements, we arrived at the final mark. We explored many options for color but decided it was best to stay within the color scheme of the previous logo, to help carry over some recognition between the two identities. Adding additional blues to the logo helped create depth to the mark as well. Once the mark was approved we developed the lock-up with the mark and full name. I could probably write another post just on the process of refinement of the typography, but I won’t bore you with those details.

The final logo reinforces AICGS as an organization that is focused on building a strong partnership between the U.S. and Germany. Like the partnership they aim to achieve, the overlapping lines signify motion and interaction between America and Germany, forming a circular shape that conveys a global network.

It’s been great to help move the visual identity of AICGS forward in a fresh direction, and a great experience working with them on this project. Looking forward to collaborating on many more!

View the accompanying stationary, new website and other AICGS projects »

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Nathan is passionate about using design and creativity to bring about meaningful experiences, and believes design should communicate, inspire, and motivate change.