• Logotype_and_youcannowlockup

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

Graphic Design

Graphic Design: Matt Willey oversees impressive new YCN identity

Posted by Rob Alderson,

We’re great believers in the going the whole hog here at It’s Nice That. Incremental change is all well and good, but sometimes it’s great to embrace a brave new world which is what our friends over at YCN have done. Originally launched in 2001 as the Young Creative Network, YCN has evolved into something quite different in the subsequent 13 years, although based on the same principles around supporting creative endeavour. To mark a change to YCN standing for “You Can Now,” they have worked with the peerless Matt Willey on a new logotype and graphic language based around the Founders Grotesk typeface.

We caught up with YCN founder Nick Defty to talk us through the changes which launched yesterday…

Why was this the right time to redesign the identity?

This was absolutely the right time because we want people to know how YCN has grown and to get familiar with the expression “You Can Now.”

This is how we now articulate what YCN stands for, which is helping creative people do new things. It’s like we’ve changed what YCN stands for, but we’ve not changed what we stand for. We’ve always been about helping creative people do new things, but through our membership we are now doing this for a much greater breadth of creative people, and in many more ways. We wanted to positively signal change.

It also coincides with a re-design of our membership offer. We’ve spent the last year talking to existing members (some in the early stages of their careers, many others further along the way) and friends of YCN about how we can best help them in their daily creative endeavours.

Having done all that we felt it was the right time to address our appearance; and to create an eye-catching flag on the top of the iceberg (to paraphrase Michael Johnson).

  • Membershipcard_anthonygerace

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

  • Membershipcard_carolsachs

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

  • Membershipcard_ryantodd

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

  • Membershipcard_saskiapomeroy

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

  • Membershipcard_valerodoval

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

What was the initial the initial brief?

It was discussed how important it was that any logotype would have to work in small spots and big ones too. Our website is often people’s first touchpoint with YCN, and a place that members engage with frequently so an important context for the identity to come to life in.

What did Matt bring to the process?

Matt was brilliant to work with as always. We’d only recently worked with him on the re-design of the YCN Members magazine; which was the first run out of the expression “You Can Now” on its masthead.

We have our own internal design team at YCN, but having enjoyed Matt’s perspective on the magazine so much, we decided to ask if he’d work on the identity brief too; and luckily for us he said yes. 

Matt and I discussed the idea of a cursor being a good metaphor for the whole You Can Now idea, the cursor represents all the different things that YCN can help you do as a creative person and that in digital contexts this could be a great, animated demonstration of all the things we can help you do. 

Hover Studio have brought this to life brilliantly as well (see below).

I am really glad that we got the chance to brief Matt because we trust his vision as a designer. If you respect the designer you’re working with and believe that they understand what your organisation is trying to do then it makes decision-making easy as you only really need to say yes, and thank you.

What do you think are the key strengths of the new look and feel?

The logotype communicates the idea “You Can Now” not just in words but through design. It suggests action, doing, being creative. These are ideas that sit at the very heart of what YCN membership means. The logotype feels like a fitting part of all of that. It can also work in tiny form as a Twitter icon, and then go nice and big as an animated event backdrop. 

The overall visual style (and use of our new typeface Founders) has a smartly fresh feel which helps us communicate that YCN has grown with its audience without losing that fresh, youthful and bright energy.

What were the biggest challenges you faced?

Getting everything done in a timely fashion when it’s something that you care so much about will always be a challenge. But Matt hit on the visual concept first time, and because we have the internal YCN Studio team supporting we managed to run things relatively smoothly and work as a very tight team.

  • Ycnbuildingsign

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

  • Www_home

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

  • Pricetag

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

  • Membershipcardstogether

    Matt Willey/YCN Studio: New YCN identity

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. List-motherdesign_sundancefilmfestival_2

    “It’s been funny seeing ‘Robert Redford to sign off’ on our work plans in recent months," Mark Aver, Mother Design New York design director tells us, revealing the new identity for the 2015 edition of the Sundance Film Festival. The independent film festival, which started in 1978 in Utah, is chaired by Redford, who from the sounds of it, takes quite a hands-on approach.

  2. _llisr-meteor

    French design duo My Name is Wendy caught our eye earlier this year with the innovative D/I/M/E/N/S/I/O/N typographic poster series. The studio recently launched a new site showcasing some great new projects that suggest the pair’s Bauhaus-esque graphic approach is going from strength to strength. Two projects particularly intrigued us – the first being a poster series which acts as a part of a wider project in which the studio creates the fictional land of Meteor.

  3. List-tumblr_ncojdd7pid1tap5jeo1_1280

    Taiwan-born graphic designer Wang Zhi-Hong claims the place that most stimulates his imagination most is one with “no one but me”. In a somewhat reluctant-sounding chat with French magazine Post IM, he paints a careful picture of himself as a man of solitude and precision. Whether or not this makes for a happy life, it certainly makes for some superb graphic design work. From his impressive portfolio we were most drawn to his book design, which takes this idea of a simple, uncluttered existence and turns it into beautiful pared back, precise creations. We were particularly seduced by the monochrome Yohji Yamamoto book designs, with the glorious curved forms of Japanese kanji characters given space to breathe against this restrained aesthetic.

  4. List-dhub_brochures_inside

    Pitching for a design museum identity that will act as the platform for some of the most celebrated designers the world over can’t be an easy task. How to merge tradition and modernity? To create something beautiful, that doesn’t detract from the work itself? So when Mallorcan agency Atlas put forward their proposals for the new Barcelona Design Museum’s identity, it’s perhaps little surprise they worried their ideas were “too modern and risky.”

  5. List00_mitml_posters

    Pentagram partner Michael Bierut and designer Aron Fay have designed a new identity for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, creating this striking, labyrinth-like look that brilliantly communicates the faculty’s “anti-disciplinary” approach.

  6. List-2

    When it comes to psychedelic album artwork, it sometimes feels like the very best might already be behind us – Wes Wilson, Mouse & Kelly and Rick Griffin already having worked through the golden era. There’s something reassuring about the knowledge that graphic designers are still looking for ways to incorporate psychedelic elements into their designs though, and French graphic artist Lucas Donaud is foremost amongst them.

  7. Stationary

    Hotel branding can so often be a dowdy affair, as if the design nods to the temporary nature of the building’s inhabitants – something to move on from, rather than to dwell on. So it’s wonderful to see a brave, opulent new identity for the Connaught in London’s Mayfair, designed by The Partners around a stunning new artwork by Kristjana S Williams which now hangs in the hotel.

  8. List

    I was surprised to learn that Amsterdam’s HOAX studio don’t seem to have been on the site before, and faced with their wide-ranging portfolio it was a challenge to focus in on a narrative that made sense. Founders Bram Buijs, Sven Gerhardt and Steven van der Kaaij joined forces based on their “shared love for typography, material and experimentation” and this passion for fresh creative thinking runs throughout their work.

  9. List

    Creating a cohesive identity for a design conference might not seem like such a tall order, but the reality of producing flyers, bags, programmes and that all-important logo mark for an international event isn’t as simple as you might think. For starters there’s an abundance of conferences out there, each with it’s own unique look and feel, so creating visuals that present a point of difference will always pose a challenge; secondly how on earth do you make a talks timetable look exciting?

  10. List

    Boasting PVC-clad bottoms, surreal jazz photography and beautifully-rendered risograph prints of basketball hoops, Shabazz Projects’ homepage certainly offers a well-curated and striking experience. The LA-based publishing platform was founded by Hassan Rahim and Brian Okarski, releasing art, photography and design-focused books and objects, all with a run of 200 or fewer editions. Stand-out pieces include the Various Basketball Hoops risographs, which put a whimsical spin on these often weary-looking monoliths; and Eric Wrenn and Antje Peters’ Jazz photographs, which place instruments against a dramatic plume of smoke. Hassan and Brian say their aim is to “provoke and surprise,” and from the images on their site alone, they’re certainly not letting themselves down.

  11. Hellotalja_kit-list-image

    Many a blue-sky-thinker and envelope-pusher has been extolling the virtues of meditation and mindfulness to pseudo-spiritually swell their business jargon lately. So it’s refreshing when a beautifully branded, creatively-minded product emerges that promises to offer that lucrative “pause from modern life.”

  12. List

    If all the magazines and small publications that used the internet as their subject matter were dumped on your head it’d be curtains for you – there’s bloody loads of them. Some, like Offscreen, deal with the people that make digital culture happen and try to bring these unsung heroes out from behind their screens into the RGB limelight, others, like French publication Nichons – Nous Dans l’Internet (Tits – We In The Internet) are more conceptually-minded, analysing and assessing the social and cultural phenomena brought about by the ubiquity of technology.

  13. Main

    Setting up a design studio and changing your name to a cool pseudonym is a good two-fingers-up to life on the quiet side. Parisian designer Julien Ducourthial decided to make this leap, and now overseas The Jazzist, offering bold, fluoro design work “serving in fields of graphic design, illustration and art direction in digital & printed media.” When Julien emailed us he told us he was inspired by 8-bit imagery and cartoons, which gave us an immediate inkling that we were going to like his work. Anyone looking to commission a great French designer any time soon? Julien is your man.