Monga’s identity for Ukrainian production company Control Freak is warm, retro and tactile

The studio connects to the desires of its client through a research period it calls the ‘visual thermometer’.

7 March 2024


Brazilian design studio Monga Design has created a visual identity for the Kyiv-based production company, Control Freak. Imbued with worn greys, rich textures and symbols evocative of filmmaking and storytelling at large, it has a handcrafted feel fuelled by its retro aesthetics, while also being applied to media that is meant to be held, touched and immersible. A newspaper in broadsheet format; a business card; a plethora of stamp-like symbols; and a site with motion graphics – it bursts with what the Monga team refer to as “simple objective fonts that enhance recognition and mirror the client’s desire for an easily remembered identity”. But not only does it reflect the company’s commitment to transforming others through storytelling, through the identity and its adaptability to a variety of media, it also reflects the hope and strength of a generation of Ukrainian creatives, in unprecedented times.

Monga first became acquainted with Control Freak after receiving a message from its executive producer, Lisa Mówoshyna, expressing her interest in the team taking on the visual identity for her new project. “From the first contact she showed a lot of enthusiasm and love for the process, which showed us that we could create something that both herself and we would love,” Michel D. Refatti, one half of the creative duo tells us. When starting the project, Lisa provided the team with a host of visual references, which sent the team down a rabbit hole of visual research – that they refer to as the ‘visual thermometer’ – and after a couple of weeks they presented it in a meeting for feedback. “The real difference in relation to traditional reference searches or stylescapes is that the objective of this meeting was not to define the exact path we were going to take, but to understand the visual parameters for the project, learning more about the client’s likes and dislikes,” he adds.

Monga Design: Control Freak identity, naming by Caldo G., motion by Clint Studio (Copyright © Monga Design, 2024)

After the meeting with the client, Monga entered the second phase of the so-called visual thermometer, where they set out concrete definitions before starting the visual identity. “We present the visual identity to the client four weeks after approval of the visual thermometer, and then we have another two weeks to finalise and deliver the files along with the identity guide,” Michel shares. However, in this case the team decided to call on Clint Studio to create some motion graphics, whereas in the past they would start the motion process after all is approved. “The process is simple, but it’s also quite rigid. We can test, experiment and do our best without worrying about unnecessary changes – in content or direction – and it helps us to get the best results in personality and aesthetics,” he adds.

Because of this, the team found little challenges during the process. “The budget was a little lower”, Michel says, “but that wasn’t a problem either, because we told Lisa that we would do it for a lower price, and in exchange we requested for it to be a project without any requests for changes to the visual identity,” in line with an approach they often take for lower budget projects. “We believe it’s a fair exchange, as many of the clients coming to us like our style and believe in our potential. All in all, the client saves a little money and we gain the certainty that the result of the project will be the best possible, because of the trust.”

Michel says that “Monga identifies a lot with Lisa in terms of loving what we do and working with enthusiasm”. The studio finds great joy in being a part of the project and helping to bring the project into the world, “even if just a little as we are fully aware that a name and visual identity are important, but that’s not all”. Being able to visually translate the company’s authenticity and emergence as a powerful home for Ukrainian artistry, storytelling and collaboration, is no easy feat, but Monga does it well.

GalleryMonga Design: Control Freak identity, naming by Caldo G., motion by Clint Studio (Copyright © Monga Design, 2024)

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Monga Design: Control Freak identity, naming by Caldo G., motion by Clint Studio (Copyright © Monga Design, 2024)

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About the Author

Yaya Azariah Clarke

Yaya (they/them) joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in June 2023 and became a staff writer in November of the same year. With a particular interest in Black visual culture, they have previously written for publications such as WePresent, alongside work as a researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.

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