It goes without saying that Austin-based photographer Buff Strickland has a unique name. She shares the name with both her mother and grandmother, the latter being the creator of the title,
The origin was a bit of a mystery as my grandmother didn’t like to talk about it too much. I didn’t find out till my early 20’s that she had changed her name to Buff because she disliked her old-timey southern name “Melba Ruth’. During World War II Buff was a very popular color (pale yellow-brown) and she simply liked the way it sounded. People often think I’m male before they meet me, in fact my mother received a draft notice during Vietnam!
Soon after joining Wonderful Machine, the uniquely-named Buff contacted me about our design services. She was looking for help coming up with new ways to promote her work. And I agreed that someone as interesting as her, and with such great photography, deserved equally unique promotional pieces.
So, Buff and I started off by using her existing logo and brand colors to put together some rough ideas. After the first round of concepts, Buff admitted to me that she wasn’t totally happy with her existing identity. It felt outdated, not modern enough for her style, plus it was hard to use fluidly across her various promotions. In particular, she felt the square logo graphic wasn’t working in relation to her wordmark and hoped I could remedy it. So I hit the proverbial drawing board and after a bit of feedback and inspirational imagery from Buff, I got working on ideas.
Since Buff expressed interest in keeping the same color scheme, I had to figure out how to incorporate that in some way still, but not in such a literal fashion as her old branding. After first nailing down a new wordmark with her, I focused on experimenting with the color palette as a grid of color. After dozens of possible combinations, Buff helped me narrow down and simplify the look. In the end, we came out with something really interesting—bright and fun. We opted to get rid of the brown in the layout since it was overpowering the imagery, and instead we incorporated that into her wordmark typography as an subtle accent. For the backside of the promo, we played with blocks of color as well.
The new design now feels more structured and gives off a modern vibe. When all was said and done, I had created three different print promo grid layouts for Buff–one that used one image, another that had two images, and the last, which could feature three. Most all of her work is shot in the same format, so she’s able to input new content easily. Her new branding can also be translated to her email and other promotions in the future.
In addition to the postcards designs, I also helped to design two rubber ink stamps that she could use on her new promo (and other promotional materials). The stamps give the promos a slightly more personal feeling. For the printing, she decided on Modern Postcard—but first it took a bit of research on my part to figure out what type of ink pad would work with the types of paper they offer. After a few emails back and forth with MP (and an ink pad company), I was able to offer a good recommendation. For her first promo, the main image features her three year old son, George, eating a bright red popsicle. I felt her image choice worked really well with the new brand, giving clients a friendly introduction to her latest work. Buff was thrilled with the outcome and already brought the promos out on her latest trip to New York City.
Check out all of Buff’s work on her website.
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