26 Aug

New brand and website discussion with Calgary designer Micheal McKay

Tuesday, August, 26, 2014

We’re so thrilled with our new brand and website we felt this new direction for DJD needed some explanation. And who better to tell us a bit more about these bold designs than the person who designed them – Calgary designer Micheal McKay from Broken Box Studios. Here is a quick discussion we had with Micheal:


1. What was the main inspiration for this new design?

There were a couple things that inspired this direction. One was a quote from Kim Cooper, the Artistic Director, she said ‘Jazz is a chameleon, a wily trickster. Jazz morphs and reinvents itself.” This idea really rang true for us and we wanted to develop a mark for DJD that could truly reflect this. DJD constantly aims to reinvent the jazz art form and we wanted to give them an identity system that could be reinvented alongside them. Jazz is at the heart of the company—it’s at the centre of everything they do—so by simply taking the ‘J’ that represents ‘Jazz’ and turning it on it’s side to create the ‘D’s, it embeds the idea of jazz at the heart of it all, right in the identity.

2. Moving from “Decidedly Jazz Danceworks” to a focus on just DJD is quite a move. What do you see this achieving for the brand?

DJD has been the colloquial terminology for years, this was just a way to formalize it from an organizational perspective. It’s essentially the company meeting their audience where they already are. I think it’s also somewhat symbolic of the evolution that is happening within the organization with Kimberley Cooper taking over the role of Artistic Director.

3. How many logo types were presented before you settled on this version?

In the design process itself, there were several scribbles, sketches and versions that were explored, but we ultimately presented two to the DJD team. We were excited, and pleasantly surprised, that they chose this direction. It is a huge departure from where they were, but it signified that the team was ready to take the brand to the next level.

4. Tell us about the font type and why these were chosen for the new brand.

The marketing team worked closely with the DJD team over a series of workshops to really articulate the brand character and we landed on these characteristics:

  • Passionate/Sensual/Stylish
  • engaged/participative
  • Unexpected/Layered

The font family is a Avant Garde Gothic, a strong sans-serif, with subtle styling. The bold version expresses a lot of those characteristics, and the font family has lighter options for use down the road if desired. We wanted a font that made a statement; something that wasn’t timid; something that demanded attention without being insanely loud.


5. What do you love most about working with DJD?

Art is embedded in their organization. There is a lot of room for expression and creativity just by the nature of what they do which you’re not going to find working with an oil and gas company, for example. I would also say there’s a healthy amount push and pull between the teams. Obviously this is a huge step for DJD, and they’ve surprised us at times on how daring they’re willing to go, but have also done a good job working with us to find the bridges between the old and the new. They’ve been a great team to work with.

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