Brand Identity Redesign Case Study (Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh)
Determining Value

Struggles with issues such as lack of awareness, loyalty, a recessive market position, or visual messaging that's confusing to users and/or culture, could benefit significantly by developing a comprehensive identity system. But It's not always the case that a premium brand identity design (or redesign) is materially valuable to a brand. Before partnering with a business, I help them to determine whether it's likely or not to be a valuable investment rather than an unnecessary expense.

Phase I: Discovery

We began with the brand discovery workshop which distills any vague notions about who the business is down to a very concise understanding of the brand. With that we establish a clear positioning statement.

Instead of asking a series of questions that can be difficult to answer (as many agencies do), we workshopped extensive lists of descriptors that are initially answered unselfconsciously rather than overthinking. How a business presents itself to potential users will elicit a gut reaction from them first, before they get to know the brand through its touchpoints. The lists are then narrowed to the most accurate adjectives and compiled into the formation of a positioning statement that expresses who they are and serves as the foundation for the brand identity and its messaging.

The discovery workshop brought to light the necessity of Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh to be experienced as a compassionate part of the community, but also a trusted and authoritative organization that is the legacy of the two historic rescue organizations it emerged from. One established in 1909, and the other in 1874.

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Brand Positioning Statement
Brand Attributes Workshop Document
Phase II: Strategy Visualized 

After the discovery phase, market research and look board compilations began.


I created a visual matrix to walk the client through where they fall amongst their competition in regards to two of the most important categories relating to their product/services as determined by the discovery workshop doc. In this case, the two categories were "Friendly/Loving/Social" and "Authoritative". By setting up a matrix with these two categories in mind, we were able to visualize where they are currently, and where their competition is (logo-wise). Then we establish where their goal should be.

This insight informs concept and aesthetic inspiration, which are presented as themed look boards.

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Competition/Logo Comparison Matrix
Look/Inspiration Boards
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Phase III: Concepting

Using the most appropriate looks for the identity (based on the strategy information), logo concepts are presented. Prior to finalizing initial concepts, I ask these three questions:

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They were presented with two aesthetic concepts and three intellectual concepts. They include:


  1. Simple, playful graphic symbols representing their three departments (adoption, veterinary and wildlife).

  2. A painted lady nestled with a cat (painted to feel like urban community wall murals). 

  3. A shield which represents all three departments, plus a hypocycloid shape which represents both Pittsburgh and a North Star.

They were presented three typographic styles that were:

  1. Friendly and playful

  2. Friendly, but a bit more serious

  3. Distinctive

At this phase, I like to show examples of what a logo might look like "in the field"

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The color palette I presented was a very unique color combination that when used together feel fresh, modern, and distinctive.

Phase IV: Finalizing

After several rounds of revisions, the logo, color palette, and type styles are finalized and photography styles and style guide are also finalized. 

Collateral includes cat boxes, signs, murals, vehicle wraps, business cards, t-shirts, redesign announcements, etc. 


The final  logo is a combination of the simple symbols, the shield and the painted "mural" style. All of these concepts and styles combined convey the sense of community through the mural affect, a sense of warmth, playfulness and happiness through the rendering of the symbols, and the inclusion of the shield helps the logo to feel symbolic of trust, legacy, protection and authority.


The logo files delivered included black and white versions, social profile logo and their tagline made into its own logo. 

The photography style focuses on the interaction of the animals with volunteers, employees, donors and others in the community. The animals should always look very happy, sweet, and when humans are present, the interaction is fun, organic and genuine. I wanted to steer clear of hugs and kisses because they're so overused in pet photography.

Our photos were shot in-house using real members of the HARP community.

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The Style Guide is a 28 page interactive guide that describes usage rules and contains links to all assets in the identity including photography, all logos, brush strokes for use in layouts, icons, examples of designed layouts, etc.

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