Given the Branding Studio’s recent work naming and creating visual identities for the St. Regis Monarch Beach’s 5 dining outlets, it’s a timely moment to explore the process behind crafting impactful, timeless brands. We spoke with graphic designer Evan Beltran to learn more about what drives his creativity, his approach to hospitality projects, and more.
It’s been a few months since you’ve joined Puccini Group, how are things going?
Awesome! Everyone has been very welcoming and work has been really varied and enjoyable. I haven’t been bored a day since I’ve started. I love it here.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty. What considerations do you take when creating identities for hospitality brands?
A lot of the projects I’ve been working on already have some sort of design implemented, which gives me a strong sense of direction for where the brand identity should go. Essentially you’re buying into an existing brand, which provides a basic framework to work from. It’s an important part, if not the most important aspect, to build a bridge between the design of a space and the brand identity to create a cohesive experience.
You mentioned there needs to be a connection between the design of a space and the branding. Can you expand on that a bit more?
It depends on which is completed first: the logo or the design of the space. Since Puccini Group is primarily an interior design firm, the design of the space is typically finished before we begin our branding work. If the logo design and the rest of the branding collateral don’t respond to the established design, the total brand will feel disjointed and unsatisfying. When designing a logo and collateral, I take the colors, textures, materials, and the underlying intention behind the interior design choices into account. By doing this, the brand as a whole (architecture, interior design, logo, and collateral) will be much more cohesive, and will clearly communicate to the customer what the space is about.
Can you walk us through your design process when developing logos?
My process starts off with initial research on the brand itself, competitors, and differentiators to help define what the logo should incorporate. I then move into my inspiration phase, which consists of discovering aspirations to further develop my research. I then begin my sketching phase: this is when I begin to ground my ideas and distinguish what’s working and what isn’t. Once I have some sketches I’m happy with, I transfer them into vector format (vectoring means creating a digital version) and iterate the design until I have distilled it to something I’m happy with. From there, we’re ready to have a first initial presentation with the client to receive feedback. At this point, it becomes a back and forth revision process with the client.
Where do you draw creative inspirations from?
Mostly from online resources. I look frequently to illustrators (rather than other logo designers) for inspiration, as they have a different artistic perspective. Illustrators are much more focused on storytelling and creating an emotional connection, while logo designers often strive for a quick visual hit and memorability, which I think helps establish a stronger connection between the customer and the brand. I also find architecture to be a big influence on my creative process. Looking at architecture helps me think more abstractly about visual design.
What do you consider the principles of effective logo design?
For me, the top 3 most important principles are legibility, clarity of message, and awareness of audience.
To break it down, legibility is vital because a logo needs the versatility to adapt to different formats (various sizes, different backgrounds, print, digital, etc.). Clarity of message is key in representing a brand and what it stands for—the logo is a brand’s shorthand representation. And lastly, awareness of audience means that when designing for a brand, we need to meet loyal customers’ standards for the brand so as not to let them down or make them uncomfortable, while still setting new expectations with unique elements. If we can get these three elements just right, we stand a great chance of creating a really positive experience for customers.