Fun, intelligent, charming and strong? What’s your character?
For years, we have been talking about branding in the sense of graphic designed marketing collateral and website developments. We forget to talk about what goes on behind the scenes to help enhance those pieces and bring companies to life. In the case of Spanish Schoolhouse, a Spanish immersion Preschool and Kindergarten school with 13 locations throughout Texas, they needed to bring themselves to life! When choosing a place to send your children, you want to connect with them. Your children are the most valuable gems you will ever possess in your lifetime. Yes, this is where I want to share a picture of my little Princess, but I’ll refrain from doing that, as this is a business blog. Such constraint! If you are a parent, you have or have had those exact feelings. Needless to say, Spanish Schoolhouse is the perfect example of where just pretty graphics aren’t going to work on selling to their clients. They needed something that would connect with their parents and students.
El Periquito Azul has been the mascot of SSH for years. He is a cute little guy that sits in the classrooms and the kids can take turns taking him home with them. Children LOVE stuffed animals and imaginary games, so this is absolutely perfect for them. Now, what do we do with turning that stuffed animal into the official mascot throughout their branding? I’m in favor of having this stuffed parrot photo bomb every photo we take and use of the children, but that might be overkill! Instead, we now have this fluffy guy vectorized into a character logo. But…is that enough? NOOOOO! El Periquito Azul needs to be brought to life!
As a child, I remember getting my first Barbie. She was this beautiful doll with one costume. To me, she was just Barbie. Then, all of a sudden, as a kid you start getting different outfits for Barbie and different hair styles, and soon, Barbie has a life of her own in your playroom, where she changes to go to the mall, changes to go to the beach, and so forth. This is the point, where Barbie came to life! She became my friend. No, I won’t admit to imaginary friends, but Barbie wasn’t imaginary. Barbie was special. She made me feel like I cared about her. I wanted her to be put away properly by sitting on a shelf, so she could watch what goes on. She would put on pajamas before bedtime. Now, picture doing that for your mascot or logo character of your company…did it just come to life in your mind?
For El Periquito Azul to come to life, we thought of the top few marketing pieces SSH uses. First, we always have summer camps! We need a fun loving summer parrot…how about tropical to imagine him on vacation! We definitely need a back to school parrot, so maybe a backpack and pile of books? For Christmas cards, I don’t know why El Periquito Azul can’t wear a Santa hat and wish everyone Felices Fiestas! There are many other places for our mascot friend to join us, but we’ll start here.
Vectoring a logo or character can take a lot of time, and as with websites, you don’t start the time consuming tasks until all designs are approved. That’s where our sketching comes in. Finding Stephen and getting him on our team was a dream come true, as not many people have the skillset he has to freehand sketch and to vectorize what he sketches. On the right, you’ll see some of the original sketches sent to Spanish Schoolhouse. Actually, this was after a round or two, and they are almost finalized here. The two right images are the back to school ones, showing the difference with a hat on him and with tennis shoes. Aren’t his shoes just adorable? What was decided was that we all liked the shoes, but not wearing a hat, so they got mixed together. Step one here is just about done, and we move into turning him into a real vector character that can be used anywhere in print or online media.
A vector file of your logo or character is the most valuable file you can possess in your business brand kit. Not only is it the branding of your company, but it is the raw file that can be turned into ANY file type somebody needs. A vector file is based on a series of points and lines instead of pixels. This makes your logo design very scalable and crisp. Vectorizing is a special skill that not everyone possesses. That’s not a bad thing, as we can’t all do everything. Stephen is our special tool that happens to be an amazing sketch artist and vectorizer. When creating logos, this is definitely a tool we need in our belt!
This can’t be a “how-to” blog, as we can’t simply teach you how to vector a character. Heck, half the the graphic designers out there can’t vector a character. Below, however, you’ll see how we turned El Periquito Azul into a living mascot for Spanish Schoolhouse. These are just a few of his new looks, but you never know where you’ll see him pop up! He might be on his way to school, and might be on vacation, but he’s definitely staying in the hearts of the SSH parents and students, where a simple mascot has gotten his wings!
After having lunch, I have food on my mind, so with that thought I would like to share about one of our personal clients that serves up some of the best pizza in town, Urban Crust! They are located in historic downtown Plano and offer a selection of gourmet wood-fired pizzas and specialty crafted drinks.
I always enjoy when they have new projects for us because that usually involves a meeting at the restaurant with a great lunch! Just thinking about it makes me hungry! (Shameless plug… you can get the Urban Lunch for only $8.90 and it includes a personal pizza or panini, cup of soup or Caesar salad, and a drink. GREAT DEAL!)
Evey month they have a new Pizza of the Month and Drink of the Month. This is definitely not your typical pizza place. Every specialty pizza is made up of the finest imported and local ingredients. Chef Salvatore has created some of the most delicious pizzas and entrees in town! One of my favorites is the Black & Blue pizza topped with basil pesto, sirloin, portobellos, caramelized onions, and bleu cheese.
Not only is the food great, but the location and atmosphere make for a great night out! The rooftop bar, 32 Degrees, is the perfect place to hang out with friends or enjoy a drink after work. Happy Hour specials are available through out the work week!
If you haven’t been, I encourage you to go check it out! Whether you’re looking for a good meal for the entire family, a special night out, work lunch, or just a place to chill, Urban Crust offers a ton of variety and food for all! To find out more, visit their website that we designed and built! You can find some of their specials and also see why we love working with them!