Whitewash Studio Logo



In the middle of July, 2016, Marc Sawyer approached me for a new logo for his architecture business, Whitewash Studio. He has been in the business for a handful of years and it was time for him to establish a solid and cohesive visual identity as he moved out to more social media channels and wanted to produce more content to gain the attention of potential business.
It makes complete sense, being a graphic designer, for a business to maintain a cohesive visual presence. It’s the best way to be memorable and thus recognizable out in the world. The more people see the same thing, the more people are going to remember it and recognize it later.
Marc was looking for a visual identity that would be clean and modern while establishing a professional appearance. On top of that, he wanted his business to be known as a high quality option for architecture. He wasn’t cheap, and it was reasonable to have that incorporated in the design.

About Whitewash Studio


The unique, memorable name Marc had come up with for Whitewash Studio was something he had thought up back in high school. See, his first name is Thomas, and as you can probably guess, the story of Tom Sawyer easily came to mind. This is a fun fact about the brand that was intriguing and ended up being used in the design of this logo.


Other than wanting to just appear professional and modern, Whitewash Studio is in the business of meaningful architecture design. Marc has a very authentic approach when it comes to designing his architecture.
Instead of designing the things potential clients approach him with (that they found online or a magazine), Marc takes the clients through a discovery process to figure out what would be best for his clients. Through his consulting, he and his clients figure out what about the current home doesn’t work for the family and works on solving that problem.
Perhaps it’s redesigning the kitchen and dining area to encourage the family to congregate there more often, or maybe it’s designing a family room that accommodates the whole family to enjoy entertainment together.
No matter what the challenge is, it’s the goal for Whitewash Studio to discover the true problem the family is having and solve it by designing or finding a home that is more accommodating to the family’s lifestyle.
It’s this authentic approach that really places Whitewash Studio a level above the rest. With this attention to the family’s needs instead of their wants, the entire project becomes much more than improving the look of the home, but the entire functionality to make the home adaptive to the family’s lives.

Target Audience

The people who are looking for this sort of professionalism know they have an issue with their home and are looking to either renovate it or find a new home that will be more accommodating to their lives.
These are typically families with both working parents who have saved up some money to make a serious update to their home.
This is by no means a cheap solution. Marc’s clients are looking to spend as much on their renovations as what others might spend on a new home.
These sort of people truly value their home and want it to be a place where their young children love to be, hang out, and bring friends over while the parents enjoy having a place to call their own and are proud of every little detail that has gone into making it customized for their family.

The Future of Whitewash Studio

The final thing I needed to consider wasn’t just the past and the current situation of Whitewash Studio, but Marc’s goals for the company for the future.
Currently being a one-man operation, Whitewash Studio only has one way to go: up. There’s a lot of potential to grow from focusing mostly on residential homes and renovations to become an architecture firm with multiple employees.
With some growth, Whitewash Studio can easily spread it’s abilities to designing for commercial businesses whether renovations or entire buildings.
Another area we discussed during our discovery phase of this project was the interest of hiring his own contractors. Independent contractors and sub-contractors can be a bit difficult to work with as they may change details in the plans without telling anybody. The goal for Whitewash Studio would be to have their own contractors who would be much easier to work with and understand the goal of the project, and thus, won’t change things without consulting with the architect.
Although this may sound like a small detail, this is one that I came to recall later in the project which ended up swinging the entire direction to the final version.

The Project


Just like all of my logo design projects, once I understood Whitewash Studio, the target audience, and the project goals, I started off by organizing my thoughts and drawing out thumbnails sketches. Boy, did I sketch. I sketched and sketched!

I spent several days filling almost four pages worth of thumbnail sketches. Some sketches that are there now came later on in the project, but most were drawn during this first week.

Hitting a Roadblock

After a week, it was time for me to move onto the next stage of my logo design process. This is the time when I figure out the direction the logo is going to take but even after all of the options I had drawn out, I wasn’t really finding that “right” direction. I still needed to move on.
To maintain momentum, I ended up picking out a monogram style combining a serif W and a sans serif S. I drew out the two separately, then using tracing paper, combined them to create the monogram. It wasn’t right and I spent a little time picking it apart to figure out why.

I realized that Whitewash Studio is the architecture business. It’s what it has been and what it is right now. But what about in the future? If Marc employs contractors, “Whitewash Studio” doesn’t really convey the message of what the contractors do. They don’t sit in an office and draw, they’re construction workers. So there’s potential that instead of Whitewash Studio, this branch could be named Whitewash Construction (or another variation).


This helped me realize that “Whitewash” is the unique part about this name and I should focus on that for the logo mark. So, still considering the monogram style, I dropped the S and focused on the W.
I drew out a few ideas. One was a serif W with a woodgrain texture (considering what you whitewash). The texture was too much. It would probably have been better if the texture was a bit larger, but it still wouldn’t have worked. It didn’t have the modern appearance.
Next, I drew out a sans serif W (a style that can have a more modern look if done right) and surrounded it with a circle. But instead of leaving it like that, I left out a vertical line at the bottom of the W to create the appearance of a picket fence (a obvious reference to Tom Sawyer). It wasn’t right yet, but the direction was becoming clearer.
Finally, the last iteration I drew out had the most likeness to the final design. It was slightly similar to the version before it, but I drew out two W’s for the two in “Whitewash,” added two vertical lines that connected the bottom points of the letters, and again framed the design with a circle. This was enough for me to go with and move on to the computer.


One step that got omitted from my process this time was scanning my hand-drawn logo and tracing it on the computer to create the first vector version. Typically this step allows me to create a unique almost hand-done feel. It can add a more natural character to the design unless I end up redoing it on the computer using calculations and the like to create a clean version.
I skipped the tracing step for that very reason. The goal was to create a clean, modern style. That meant it needed to be precise, and as you probably can guess, the computer is pretty good at doing that anyway.
I started by “roughing” out the general design that I had drawn by hand – the two W’s, the vertical lines, and the circle. It was ok, but I needed to clean it up and I wanted to make sure the W’s I used were based on the same font that I choose to use in the visual identity.


I experimented with several different fonts, looking for something that would have the clean, modern look I was looking for. After some time, I ended up choosing Futura Medium for “WHITEWASH.”
Futura is a time-test geometric sans serif typeface – strategically chosen because it is just that. I took into consideration that Whitewash Studio is an architecture business and since architects use math and geometry in their designs, the choice of Futura is a nod to this.
In addition to its style, the Futura typeface has many weights making it versatile and easily applicable to any application whether print or digital.


Once I picked out Futura Medium, I took the skeleton of the W and applied it to the design of the logo mark. With some light tweaking and a little work with the golden ratio, I eventually ended up with a solid structure for the logo.


The before finishing up the lockup, I realized that the design could be framed by either a circle or a square. Both were fairly appropriate shapes, but one needed to be chosen.
The square is a man-made shape that has a strong presence. The solid man-made characteristic definitely fitted the architect field, but made the design of the mark too masculine. If it was to attract both male and female clientele, it needed balance.
Thus, I chose the circle, which provides a feminine balance to the straight lines and sharp points already in the design. The circle provides an attractive balance and unique character to the design. It instills safety and has a more natural feel just like the goal of the projects of Whitewash Studio – to renovate the home to work naturally for the family.


Now that I had the logo mark, I needed to put together the entire lockup of the logo (mark and name together). Again, I used the golden ratio to build up the logo to create an even, attractive balance.

Now that I had the symbol and the name together, I was obviously missing “Studio” to finish the lockup.


To compliment the sans serif typeface Futura, I knew I could create the professional look by pairing it with a serif typeface. Again, like I did to pick out Futura, I picked out several fonts. I then created mocks of the lockup using each one. With a little research and some experimentation, I came to the conclusion that Adobe Caslon Pro Regular would work best.
Futura and Caslon are a time-tested duo that work very well together. Sharing similar structures, but enough difference in character to add interest, the two work in harmony to establish a clean, modern appearance that’s very professional.
Finally, I added “STUDIO” in Adobe Caslon Pro Regular to complete the logo lockup.


Despite understanding that the visual identity needed to have a clean, modern, and professional look, color proved to be another good challenge.
I started by trying many different colors without prejudice (although knowing some would most likely not work) – red, blue, gold, gray, black, green, brown, and orange. I compared the colors on both black and white with the goal to find a color that would work no matter if it was on a light or dark background.
What was interesting is just with the name “Whitewash” some colors didn’t match up with the logo at all – bright blue, dark maroon, etc. – they ended up creating an undesirable friction with the logotype and had to be weeded out.
The most appropriate colors ended up being the more neutral colors – gray, tan, gold. As much as I liked the gold color, it couldn’t be the primary color. It established too much of a luxurious look, but could be used as a complimentary secondary color.
For the primary color, I chose Pantone Warm Gray 5 C. It’s a neutral color that works on almost any background light or dark.
While there will be times a different color is needed, I picked gold (Pantone 871 C) and cool black (Pantone Black 6 C) as secondary colors.
Each of these colors work together to establish the desired clean, modern, and professional appearance, while also creating a high level of comfortable sophistication that’s almost luxurious to match the Whitewash Studio’s target clientele.
Whitewash Studio Logo


After this four week journey, the new Whitewash Studio Logo is complete. It has the desired modern appearance by utilizing white space and use of clean lines.
The precise placement of the shapes and words in the lockup establishes an attractive balance.
Aside from the clean logo mark, the use of time-tested fonts help establish a sense of professionalism that can be used across the entire visual identity.
This logo has been designed to tell a story about how Whitewash Studio got its name as well be flexible for the expansion of the company in the future.
Whether seen in full color or black and white, the new Whitewash Studio logo clearly communicates that the company is a professional brand who truly cares about its clientele and takes its authentic approach to its field seriously.

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