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Rebranding a Company From the Inside Out

After 28 years, we’re excited to announce the rebrand of the classic Stokes Sign Company logo. In considering each creative decision, we strived to modernize the brand while drawing inspiration from the thought and process behind the original logo.

The Stokes Sign Company logo was designed by Nancy Stokes, founder and owner, along with her right hand artist Brian Jepsen, in the late 90’s. Asking Nancy how they got the design down on paper, she said, “I knew I wanted a round logo with the most predominant element to be the word ‘sign.’ I chose the font as it was a nod to the traditional sign makers that came before me.” Red was selected as the primary color to direct the viewer’s eyes to the most important part—the selling point—of the business. Similarly, the signmaker’s paintbrush underlines the importance of art in every sign created. From there, Nancy and Brian scanned the artwork into their system and converted the design into a digital format. This is when the logo colors [red, white, and blue] were selected to illustrate Nancy’s belief in the American dream: Nancy started in a singular production bay as the only employee. Now, 28 years later, we’ve moved into an entire warehouse with 18 exceptional employees.

Due to the limitations of sign-making technology, if not painting, flat colors were the only way the logo could be rendered with the available materials. To make a sign, you would overlay solid colored vinyls and piece together the layers to configure your layout. To put into perspective, we can manufacture about 10,000 signs a day with our digital printers and cutters. Starting out, the team was getting around 10 signs completed per day.

From the logo’s original conception until now, it was only modified once to add gradients and textures. This idea came about when Nancy was hand-painting a sandblasted sign for her office and wanted to give the logo more dimension. By using mixed paints, she added shadows and gradients to the paintbrush illustration and the word “sign” to give them more dimension.

When asked what sparked the need for a rebrand, Nancy said,

“When I started the company I wanted to take the sign industry to the next level and to achieve that dream I had to have a noticeable logo. The reason we are taking on a rebrand now is following through with that promise.”

Today, we turn a new page in the Stokes history book—Felipe Mendoza Zintzun, Art Director, was tasked with overseeing the rebrand project to create our new identity. Reflecting on the original logo, the elements we wanted to carry over into our new logo consisted of the “sign” in a sign painter font, the paint brush, and the circular frame.

The rebrand audit and concept design was primarily spearheaded by graphic designer, Hannah Wells. Starting with the colors; black, blue, red, and yellow were eye-dropped from the original artwork and selected for our palette. To extend our marketing reach and allow for a more cohesive range in our color palette, we moved from a textured multicolored logo towards a minimalist aesthetic that works across several media types including print and digital.

Next, we move on to the handwritten-style font for “sign.” The designers kept the placement and the signmaker font but went in a more contemporary direction. Giving the brush a more utilitarian task, the tail of the “g” was then fused together with the paint brush. The result expresses a fluid and easy to read logo allowing for increased audience recognition of our product. The last step to finalizing the logo, was encompassing Stokes and Company around the newly paired “sign” and underlining brush. When talking to Wells, she said

“selecting a circular design was crucial when creating the new logo. Modernizing your logo to a more versatile form allows it to be used on a wide variety of digital platforms.”

Looking at web and social media, some logos do not translate well if they are in a rectangular format. Nowadays, when uploading profile pictures, the format is either a square or circle. Changing our original logo to a 1:1 ratio has opened the door for a cleaner and more recognizable look across our digital interfaces.

Overall, the Art Department’s journey to a redesigned logo involved a dialed-in look to who we are, what the sign industry has become, and how we want to represent ourselves. This was and is a pivotal moment for our entire company—one that allows us to reflect on where we started and how we’re growing as a business. The rebrand was directed to embrace digital change in an evolving market and to establish a modernized look in a tech influenced sign industry. With digital, nationwide reach and the ability to adapt to customers’ mindsets, we’re looking forward to the next thirty years.

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