Reimagining a mission-driven nonprofit's visual identity and branding.
Company: YHWH Apparel
Role: design lead
Timeline: January - March 2020
Deliverable: branding guidelines, branding implementation
YHWH Apparel was, is, and will always be about one purpose: boldly sharing our faith. We’re a non-profit — we pursue purpose over profit, intentionality over trends, and the Kingdom over culture. Because our brand is so rooted in purpose and mission, we asked ourselves this: how might we reinvent our brand identity while staying true to our guiding principles?
Rebranding a company isn’t an arbitrary decision. After all, the entire design process — user research, iterations upon iterations, hours prototyping — isn’t an easy one. But this semester, the YHWH’s design team felt compelled to update the company’s branding and establish a more uniform brand identity across mediums. We thought our current brand identity was inconsistent, a little outdated, and, more importantly, unintentional. While nothing was inherently wrong with the logo (props to whoever made it — love the handwriting), we felt it did not encompass our mission and vision completely.
Understand Brand Mission and Values
To create an effective logo, we revisited the founding principles of our company. In summary, YHWH was created out of a love made known, a need that was seen, and a call that was heard (Psalm 107).
YHWH is the tetragrammaton of one of the names of God, often spoken as “Yahweh” (Exodus 3:14). It was (and still is, by certain groups) regarded too holy to be spoken. Here is a short summary of our mission and vision, written by founder Serena Wang.
Our desire is simply to share the goodness and truth of the Gospel. To tell the world of the beautiful name of God that they may seek and find that He is Lord and that they may discover the unconditional love that is for them.
Our vision is to speak truth through our apparel, empowering people to express their identity as children of the Most High King, and to encourage believers to be bold as they carry the name of their Lord, not only on their shirts, but on their hearts.
Typically, the next step of a the rebranding process is research, such as user research or competitive analysis. Because of YHWH isn’t a typical clothing line, instead of reading up on our competitors, our research mainly involved reflecting over our mission statement, handbook, and Scripture. Here are some insights we gleaned:
“YHWH” is a holy name.
The cross and the Gospel is foundational to our faith and purpose.
We began rapid prototyping potential logos on pen and paper. Because holiness of the word “YHWH” reflects the nature of God, we were particularly interested in returning to our brand name’s Hebrew roots (יהוה) and possibly incorporating aspects of the Hebrew alphabet in our prototypes.
After some initial sketches, the design team created some mid-fidelity versions of potential logos. Many of our prototypes featured iterations of the Hebrew yodh (י), the first letter in the word “YHWH”, leaves, and other visual representations of Scripture.
We converged on a design that would incorporate two distinct features: the Hebrew yodh and a nail.
The design team produced a high-fidelity logo incorporating aspects of Hebrew and Jesus’ crucifixion.
Create Visual Identity and Brand
After converging on our new logo, we further developed a visual identity: typeface, color palette, corporate graphics, photography style, and more.
Download our complete branding guidelines here.
Implement and Maintain
From a designer’s standpoint, rebranding YHWH was an interesting process. In any rebranding process, one should always remember the heart and mission of a company. But for a Christ-centered company like YHWH, that was all the more important. Overall, we’re quite happy with the result!