Branding an international mobility campaign
When you're off to create something you've never built before
I've become part of the Mov'in Europe Team in early 2014. The project was just at its very beginning and everybody was expecting big things. The premise was simple—as a flagship project of Erasmus Student Network we were supposed to make mobility exchanges cool. What a ginormous task that was.
My original role in the project was the Graphic Designer/Art Director, responsible for the brand and the visuals. In one year we were supposed to introduce a completely new brand, establish an engaged audience, and show all the other projects how it's done.
Back in 2014, the ESN's visuals were far from unified and there was no "theme" going through the different efforts of the organisation—especially on the visual side of things. Have a look for yourself:
A perfect starting point to kick off something fresh and new. My goals for the brand visuals were pretty simple:
- Use just one of the 5 ESN colours to create a smooth look.
- Utilise a way to make any photo immediately recognisable as part of the brand
- Establish a dynamic logotype showing the ever-changing connections between mobile people.
Let's start with the logotype. The project name was a given, so it was only about exploring the connections to a Europe that is truly moving. To be honest, the research didn't take too long—the images of connected Europe at night and aeroplanes being the ultimate mode of transport started popping up to me very early in the process.
I constructed the symbol for the logotype by laying a stylised planar network graph of the capitals of Europe over the symbol of unity—a circle. Since the network graph can be overlaid in any possible position over the circle, virtually every logo can be unique in its own way, yet unified.
As the project is no Apple, the symbol has to be accompanied by the explanatory text to form a full recognisable logotype. Fun fact is that the explanatory text was originally designed in lowercase which was promptly changed to uppercase to enforce correct spelling of the project name (thanks, Robert!).
Then it was just a matter of creating a logotype generator document and the first part of the visuals was done!
Since the project had no budget, I had to use only copyright-free photos. Here comes Unsplash to the rescue. Their marvellous collection of CC-0 images has quickly become the core of the project's visuals, yet there was something missing.
The images have wildly varied in their tone and saturation and it was difficult to keep a unified look for the materials created. This is where I've decided that to turn the campaign visuals inside out. Instead of using the coloured elements, I've gone for a full-colour overlay of the images with white elements on top (you can read more about how to do the colour overlay properly here).
Suddenly, any photo could be quickly toned to fit the brand visuals. The outcome was phenomenal, wherever we posted about Mov'in Europe, it was immediately obvious that the cyan post is part of the brand. Everything from Facebook posts to t-shirts became cyan.
As the materials created for the project were to be used from Reykjavík to Yekaterinburg, a visual identity manual was created to lay out the basic rules of using the Mov'in Europe visual identity correctly by other designers.
The project is now entering its third year, and the visual identity still holds strong. The project was adopted by hundreds of sections of the Erasmus Student Network and there have been countless custom-built designs created by other designers, all following the unified theme.
Are you curious about Mov'in Europe? I've also built other parts of the brand, such as the tone and the digital campaign, more on that coming soon. Also, have a look at the project here.