With the departure of True Temper as a U.S. supplier of bicycle tubing, many in the small niche of Bicycle Framebuilding had some concerns, including myself, as to who may fill that void. For myself, utilizing as many U.S. suppliers as possible is paramount not only for my own brand, 44 Bikes, but in a way I see it as a responsibility to support those who are committed to manufacturing right here in the USA. So when Vari-Wall stepped up to the plate with plans of producing high end tapered, seamless, air-hardening U.S. made steel tubing… I knew I not only wanted to be part of the project, I needed to be part of the project. So I reached out. In addition to helping out with a selection of tubing profiles and lending some suggestions, I reached out to them to offer up my design expertise. Up above is the result: Vari-Wall’s THERMLX™ logo. First I want to say how proud I am to be part of this project. Although I design and build bicycles here at 44 Bikes, I have a long history of graphic design work. Before I started 44 Bikes, I ran a small design agency specializing in Graphic and Product design. I’ve done my share of industrial design, but one of the things I love most about graphic design is the much broader reaching project to create a brand platform. Subsequently, this is where my skill set is best suited. I love projects with long term goals and forcing the designer to really see the forest through the tree’s utilizing broad strokes to help shape the brand’s path. This requires a lot of listening, asking pointed questions and doing your homework to fully understand where the existing brand has been, where they are now and where they’d ultimately like to go. A thorough understanding of the product offered as well as the industry in which it will reside is equally important. It then becomes my job to distill all of this information and inject visual cues to the new branding so that existing customers relate but new customers feel at home with the product. Some times there’s specific requests from the clients (in Vari-Wall’s case, it was a specific color palette to help emphasize the “Made in USA” approach) and some clients may be more hands on while others give you a relatively wide birth. Having extensive experience and expertise in the market which the new product and branding will reside, the job was a bit more easy to tackle. Needless to say I was super excited and within the first round of drafts we were well on our way to honing in on a finalist to represent Vari-Wall’s new THERMLX™ tubing line of which you see up above. For those who want to know, here’s a little bit of information breaking down the logo: · A shield is a protective symbol hence it’s use. I wanted this to be a source of pride and lineage as frame builder’s come from one large family but also to evoke a feeling of security. Vari-Wall’s got your back. · “Heat” is implied by the rising wave like form sweeping across the shield and emphasized by the “Thermal” or rather “THERMLX™” word mark. · The colors Red, White and Blue: Made in the USA without having to spell it out. · Vari-Wall is present so you know the source. The definitive experts on steel tubing. · “USA” to emphasize origin. · And for those with a sharp eye… Check out that hidden “S” in the shield. Kind of like the superman “S” but not. “Men of Steel”. I threw that one in there for bonus points like the hidden arrow in FedEx’s logo. Vari-Wall just launched their new e-commerce site today (December 30, 2016), and if you have a minute you should check it out. After the project was wrapped up and the design was finalized, it became necessary on my end to then go through the nuts and bolts of the branding project and thoroughly finalize every piece of the puzzle that Vari-Wall will need moving forward. So the logo needed to be created in just about every file format necessary (AI, EPS, PDF and high/low resolution JPG’s) in addition to creating a formal brand platform. The brand platform simply outlines a basic set of rules and guidelines for the new logo so if another designer is helping, intent and scope remain the same. Colors (Pantone, CMYK, RGB) supporting fonts, sizing, etc. are all outlined in the brand platform. Nothing necessarily set in stone but rather a definitive guide so nothing is left to chance. All in a days work here at the Dept. of Shred™. So if you’re a framebuilder who’s looking for a USA made steel tubing option, head on over to Vari-Wall’s new e-commerce site. Decals are going to print very shortly to accompany future orders of Vari-Wall product. We’re finalizing a logo for their Chromoly Steel offering as well. Just know that someone close to the industry had a part in designing that logo. When you place that decal on one of your frames, know that I took a lot of time and care with it’s design, that I took a lot of pride in it and I was thinking of all of you when I laid down those thick vectors. Editor’s Note: I just want to extend a very warm and sincere “Thank You” to the entire team at Vari-Wall. Their kindness, trust and friendly approach was a welcome addition this fall for this project and I look forward to many years ahead offering my full support for their new bicycle tubing venture. So from myself here at 44 Bikes: Thank you.