From Yellow-Bricked Roads to Purple Rains: Arclight Comics’ Reveals Its New Brand Identity

Ed Williams Announcements & Updates Leave a Comment

This is a long time coming.

Things look…different. I know. From your vantage point it looks like we’ve changed everything—and you’re right.

We’ve changed, but we didn’t do it for the sake of it.

We had to. We’ve grown so much since founded in 2011 and we KEEP growing. Startup culture is a beast. You’ve gotta learn how to adapt, change, pivot and then do it all over again once the dynamics of your culture, audience or market changes. Adapt or die. Don’t believe me? Ask Gary Vee.

Nurturing and Raising a Brand

Brands are living, breathing things.

They constantly evolve and change overtime whether you want yours to or not.

With over 10 years of brand design experience under my belt, I started to notice our shift in the middle of 2016 and began the pruning process.

This new phase is Arclight becoming more defined and confident in who and what we are. We’re young, unapologetic of it and we understand our capabilities and skills as a creative team. We’re also brand new to the industry and are learning as we go. Things get raw and real transparent around here as we do that, and that needed to be reflected in our brand and its assets.

The Problem:

Arclight launched 6 years ago. We were babies and still are, but we’ve matured. We’ve also gained and refined our focus over the years. The brand that was originally created fit the time and stage we were in, but around late-2015 we started to become a lot more than what our original scope and infrastructure could handle.

In that same year, we added a new addition onto our house.

We started ‘learning out loud’ and sharing our journey to becoming a self-owned, sustainable comic book publishing startup who told stories that moved and inspired our audience.

So we started this ‘learn out loud’ process through a podcast show, blogs and courses, openly giving away what caused us to fail in certain areas and how we turned it around so we could win.

But while the new addition was great, the brand couldn’t handle it. It was busting at the seams trying to hold everything together, and even though I got it to work in some ways, our older assets could only stretch so far with what and who we were becoming.

So for a little over a year, I had started sketching concepts and ideas on paper, holding open conversations with the team on where we were headed, who and what we were becoming and why it was necessary for us to change. I got their buy-in (which is so important, leaders) and started moving the project ahead to find us a solution.

That solution is below.

Our New Logo

Arclight comes in phases.

Arclight 1.0

Baby Arclight. Also: Baby Ed. We needed to mobilize and make everyone aware we existed. Even ran a successful Kickstarter to get things going. We went through over 200+ names and spent over 4 months laying the groundwork for what you see now here.

Arclight 2.0

Taking place between 2014 and mid-2015, marking the time between our first script being written (Issue #0 – The Passing) + several mini issues were released in conjunction with The Arclight Podcast debuting in November 2015 (now called The Road to Comics Podcast).

Arclight 3.0

This now comes with a more polished wordmark and meaning.

We’ve outgrown the days of making these huge sweeping statements of intent and overselling ourselves. I got tired of that and so did the team, so the focus has shifted from overstating to simply being who we are—and that often comes with a certain level of rawness.

The new logo takes on one of our original meanings behind the name Arclight from Phase 1 that comes straight from Matthew 5:14-16:

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world…a city on a hill…I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!..Matthew 5:14-16

It has always tied into our message of choosing to take the road less traveled and letting others know there’s a different way. We will gladly take the back roads and dark alleys first, then lead others through them, doing our best to set an honest example of what it takes to pull something like Arclight together and providing the tools and resources for others to do the same.

The new wordmark is not only embellished with a classic, Golden-age type treatment, but subtly rests on an arc representative of our name resting on a hill.

Meet the Frame:

We can call it what it is right off the bat: a speech balloon/chat bubble.

That’s all there could be to it, but I’m a designer that likes to answer for every decision made and not do things simply because they look cool or because it’s the thing to do right now.

We’re storytellers.

We’ve been on this train for a minute now and have become passionate about stories and the power they hold. They’re how we intend to reach our audience and fulfill our mission, so the mark represents us openly telling stories in every conversation at every touch point.

Why It’s Called the Frame

Every page of a comic is told within 4 corners of that page.

The story unfolds in mostly all 4-cornered panels, be it full of dialogue or none at all, there’s an element of a story unfolding within those parameters. And since we have a long game mindset, the mark will also function in other mediums when we cross those bridges—animation, TV, film and video games.

We’re building an intellectual property with the versatility to expand across all those mediums, but no matter what vehicle the stories are being driven in, all of them take place within 4 corners: your TV, a movie screen, your phone, tablet, etc. We intend to tell our stories in every 4-cornered medium and device possible.

This not only gives us an identifiable mark unique to us, it gives the brand flexibility out in the wild.

So About These Colors…

This is possibly the most striking change here.

We’ve gone from that blinding dominant yellow to purple. That’s a big jump, but a necessary one. I use a lot of color psychology when I make my decisions on color palettes and if the palette fits the personality and profile of the brand.

The goldenrod yellow was no longer working. While we did go with it because it was youthful and energizing, it also came off as immature and inexperienced to a degree. We were too out there and needed a dominant color that would ground us.

The new palette completely eliminates the goldenrod yellow and puts purple in its place.

We tell stories to transform the people who read them. It’s in our mission statement to use storytelling to heal, inspire and teach, yet, that was hard to communicate with what we had in the past.

Purple is the color of creativity, magic and originality with a hint of a rebellious spirit, but also has roots in being sophisticated. It anchors us in something richer and deeper than goldenrod yellow ever could.

The electric green and red retain our youthfulness and energy. I didn’t want us to grow up too fast, and the majority of our audience are millennials 18-25. We had to retain an identity that would continue to attract them, but at the same time not run off our more seasoned followers and fans.

This also benefits what we now call our Learning Hub, or LHUB for short.

That’s where we do most of our learning out loud and share our journey with other creators, teaching them what we know and what’s worked for us. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to feel about someone teaching me is that they’re immature and flighty.

The new color palette helps alleviate this issue.

Believe in Storytelling (And New Taglines)

We had been running around with “Believe Again” for years. It worked, but it didn’t have longevity. It’s mostly tied with our initial character-driven campaign of “Believe in…”, tying our characters to universal values and beliefs.

I wanted to develop a tagline that felt true to the nature of who we’re becoming and it was simple: we’re storytellers. We believe in the power of stories and strive to create the best ones we possibly can.

Stories impact people. They save lives, they help us, they encourage us and inspire. It’s the foundation of humanity. Where would we be without them? Not only do we believe in always finding a way to tell a story internally, but we want to inspire others to do the same.

Our Brand In the Wild

When we put it altogether, it works really well.

We’ve extended the typography treatment on our full issues to other areas, including mini issues and social assets. We had discussed this at length well before publishing Issue #0 – The Passing. We wanted our covers to have a consistent visual identity so you can always identify them out in the wild.

We also have a new typography lockup treatment. Volte is our main brand font, but we’ve also integrated Northshire Script, a font that compliments our messaging of being a lot more raw and less polished. Locked up with Volte, it makes great statements and t-shirt designs.

This Brand New Website

This was driven solely by you and your experience here.

I truly care about what you’re experiencing when you visit our website. I want it to be memorable, easy and make it feel like you’re at home. Nothing about a website should be confusing, yet, that’s what we ended up doing.

We discovered we have 3 segments within our audience:

  1. Those who just want access to the learning content
  2. Those who just want access to the entertainment content
  3. Those who want both

For those who wanted access to the learning content, the site catered to that audience heavily. The podcast was everywhere along with the blogs. While great, it really started to bury the entertainment content—our characters, the mini issues and so forth. In a survey we ran, several people didn’t even know we had free comics.

That was alarming to me and one of the main reasons I pushed to have this completed by the end of Q1 2017. It’s pretty bad when you have free content yet no one can find it.

So we’ve split the two sites up:

  • Entertainment Hub (EHUB – You’re here now!)
  • Learning Hub (LHUB)

We keep everything related to the IP here, and everything related to us learning out loud on LHUB. They’ll blend every now and again (like now in this blog post), but this site will 99% of the time only hold the content containing our universe, the characters, the world, etc.

This Really Is the Start of More Updates

Over the next several months more changes will take place on both sites. We just didn’t have the time or resources to roll everything out all at once and will be doing this in small waves throughout the year, but what you can look forward to right now are:

  • New homepage – We put the focus on our characters and stories, creating a content experience that is driven by our characters.
  • New character pages – Every character will get a new content experience page that will not only tell their individual stories from their own perspective, but connect you to every piece of content, comic and product they’re featured in so you can keep up with your faves.
  • New about page – We wanted to share more of who and what we are with you. We’re being more open, transparent and wanted to drive the same narrative to every person visiting the site.
  • New mini issue page – You can’t miss these now! Not only is the page redesigned, but our mini issues now have the same cover treatment as our full issues. You can now download all of Wave 1 issues with just the click of a button.

Some pages will look the same over the next few weeks or months. Our character roll outs will take place every month, so some you may not see some of them updated until late summer/early Fall.

We’re going to provide a deeper look under the hood and share everything we know

We’ve been told we’re different than most for several reasons, but one of the reasons that sticks out to us is that we’re transparent.

It’s hard trying to get others to share value and information across independent projects. Folks hold their cards extremely close to the vest, but we figured we had nothing to gain from that, nor did we have anything to lose. If we can make someone else’s journey easier by telling them what pitfalls and traps to look out for, and they can skip 3 months of agony, we’ve done our job.

We aren’t experts or pros in comics, but we take what we are experts in, combine it with our love for comics, storytelling and entrepreneurship, and do everything we can in our time, resources and power to make this work.

If you want to learn more about our successes and failures, wins and losses, you can do so on LHUB and apply it to your own work.

Create Your Own Brand Color Palette and Wheel

Color recognition is everything to brands—ESPECIALLY those of us in this industry. We need to use every single tool available to stand out, right? This may make it a little easier for you. You can download our color palette wheel file and create your very own brand colors.

How dope is that?

Not only that, I’ll send you links to all the online tools and applications I used to put ours together.

One thing though. Well, two. You need to download Adobe Illustrator if you don’t have it already. It’s FREE for 30-days giving you plenty of time to create your color wheel and export it for future use. And two: Just enter your name and email below to get access to the file and tools/applications immediately.

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