CLEARwerks: Stinson Community Association – Behind The Scenes

Hello. This will probably be filed under Shop Talk, that underused portion of my website where I talk nuts and bolts about how I do stuff.

Today, I’ll be talking about how I came up with the logo and banner for the recently unveiled Stinson Community Association website.

First off, their old website was fairly static and had a series of banners for each page, using photos of heritage buildings in the neighbourhood. Not bad, really, but a bit hard to use for branding and labelling. I wasn’t the first pick for this job, as there was a contest held within the neighbourhood to get the best ideas from a number of sources. I wasn’t part of the judging panel, so I didn’t see the submissions that didn’t make the cut. All I saw were the four final submissions, which were uncredited at the time of the general vote:

SCA 001


SCA 002


SCA 003


SCA 004


Now, I know the names of the designers of these submissions, but I only know that Maggie Day-Myron was responsible for submission 003: the ‘tree-lined village, oh so heavenly’, which was hands down the most popular concept (it was recently revealed that the other concepts used were from Brian Goodman and Katherine Dymkowski, though I’m not sure which one was which). However, there was both a numerical vote and a comment section, and even Maggie’s logo did not arrive unscathed. There were suggestions for a number of changes to all of the logos seen above, and I signed on to make the project work without having to go outside of the community to bring in an impartial designer to improve the designs.

My first job was to recreate the logos as vector files (all I had to go on were the submitted jpegs) and see if I couldn’t solve some of the most immediate design problems in the process. This is what I came up with:


005 set

The first four (red) logos were the submissions Dawn and I originally put together back in the very beginning of the logo submission process, at the end of last year. The logo set you see beside it was my late entry for the final submission call earlier this year.

Upon receiving the job to recreate and modify the four finalist logos, I immediately hit upon the solution of integrating features from all four logos, and solving the one major critique of the winning logo, that the buildings were too basic and unrecognisable. Fortunately, I had already based my fourth design on buildings in the neighbourhood, and had what I thought would be a winning style, if I could just get the colouring right. My first designs were all in black and white or grayscale, because I knew I was initially only dealing with just the Stinson Press Club, and we had a fairly free hand in coming up with the initial design series. I borrowed the stylized S emblem from the second finalist logo, attached it to my recreation of the third logo, and started playing with variations on the logo presentation itself, based on the first finalist, and then stole the stylized tree emblem from the fourth to tie it into the design. This melding of ideas got some interesting results, but sadly, the trees weren’t solid enough; it looked too much like a fireworks display, which had its appeal, but ultimately failed to impress the Executive board.

What did impress them was the reworked S emblem and the next volley of tree-lined village shots, where I tried reusing one of my other design concepts (concept five) to give the trees a more full look. This sparked the idea to simply create back-canopy shapes to make the trees look fuller. I also had to modify the shape of the tree trunks themselves, which were based on my substitution of a capital T for the tree trunk shape of the fourth finalist logo, which was a little too simplistic, and incidentally a bit reminiscent of the Banyan logo (local non-profit organization). My tree trunks still looked a little too much like a T, so I reworked the shape to look more trunk-and-root-like. I’m not sure there was ever a real consensus of the tree trunks, but it worked so long as they were mostly covered up by buildings.

Then there was the great debate about what buildings to use, as some felt that I hadn’t used the most iconic buildings in the neighbourhood. I went away and rendered the most iconic buildings I knew of in the neighbourhood, and Natasha presented them to the Exec board. They eventually agreed that I’d gotten it right, though one discerning voice felt that the tallest building (The Fearman House) would have been enough. Personally, I was rather more proud of the Stinson School, but it doesn’t appear in the approved logo (it DOES appear in the banner, however; more on that later).

As you can see, none of Dawn’s or my ideas made the cut originally, but eventually I got to use elements of each for various iterations of the logo, until it was refined to the final version, which I did in three colour palettes, based on the printing and display needs of the project:

Stinson-Community-Association-Logos-17 Stinson-Community-Association-Logos-18 Stinson-Community-Association-Logos-19

I’d explain the process of choosing the colours, which was based on the Stinson press Club’s mandate to assign Pantone colours for branding and printing purposes, but really, Pantones are boring. Suffice to say, we went with a Hamilton Brick orange (Pantone 179M), Forest Green (357M) and Pantone Black.

I completely abandoned the Pantone scheme for the banner, however (Pantones WERE used, but in gradients that rendered them moot). The banner was clincher for this logo concept; once the Executive board saw the final render, they realized what I had been doing, and subsequently approved the concept (almost) without hesitation.

SCA-Logo-16-Banner-01fIt went through 21 minor revisions until I got it to the point where you see it, including the Stinson School Lofts, which to my mind is the most iconic building in the neighbourhood; so glad they haven’t torn it down since closing it, but are developing it (as of this writing) into condos. The association were suitably impressed with the results at the private unveiling of the website, and it is a mark of their pleasure that the logo and banner were adopted without any further modifications.

I may do more buildings in this style (still got old Cathedral school, the orginal Central Collegiate, and perhaps one or two of the larger apartment buildings with distinct modern features I can use, as well as perhaps one or two of those houses they’ve been shooting in The Murdoch Mysteries; I love that show), but I’ve assured them that I can’t afford to do it for free, so there may yet be payment in my future. We’ll see.

Money notwithstanding, it’s been a fun and gratifying project, and I’m glad I was able to do this for my neighbourhood. If I don’t get to do the mural on the Claremont Access, I’ll at least have helped to properly brand my neighbourhood (now, how about those Marquee banners? 😉 ).

And that’s it for Show and Tell today. Thank you for reading, and if you would like to see the results of the website recreation (which was mainly the work of Ralph Meiers and my wife, Dawn ‘DSKI’ McIlmoyle), please go HERE:



2 Responses to “CLEARwerks: Stinson Community Association – Behind The Scenes

  • Great synopsis Lee – interesting to read about the process from a different perspective 🙂

    • Thank you, Ralph. I try to make these things as interesting as I can.

Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.


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