Behind The Work is an in-depth exploration of the thought process and reasoning - good and bad - that goes into some of our favorite projects.
The Task at Hand
During the summer, Show And Tale Creative was contracted to create a brand identity for Loma Capital, a new private equity investment firm in Greenville, South Carolina. Loma Capital aims to become the nation's leading private equity investor for Latin-facing and multicultural businesses. Given the historical underfunding of those businesses in the private equity industry, Loma Capital was established to provide them with the capital and technical expertise needed to become successful businesses at scale. Loma hopes to achieve this vision by incorporating a blend of traditional private equity capital injection tools, primarily through growth-oriented investments and leveraged buyouts, with a package of wrap-around services like infrastructure and operating support to provide their portfolio companies the tools needed to grow.
Loma was looking to create a brand that finds a balance between the seriousness of traditional private equity branding - limited partners are looking for a trusted place to put their money - and the edginess and flair of a new firm specializing in their target market. An essential and profoundly personal factor in Loma's brand identity was honoring the roots of the CEO's family. Loma is the name of the neighborhood in Puerto Rico the CEO's parents are from, which also means "hill" in Spanish. While the concept of a hill didn't necessarily need to be overtly incorporated into the brand design, it served as a thematic inspiration. Consideration was also given to the fact that Loma Capital would house other entities as an umbrella company, so the brand needed to be malleable. Lastly, the logo design for Loma Capital needed to translate to animation without sacrificing its integrity.
The Ideation Phase
With animation being needed in the branding design, the first thing that I did was hire a friend and fellow graphic designer, Rhiannon Merchant, due to her experience with graphic animation and branding. Through meetings with Loma Capital, I determined that Loma wanted to stand in contrast with their main competitors - Palladium Capital, AUA Capital, and KKR - which all had traditional branding and messaging. Loma's desired clientele are in their mid-30s to early 40s, run small businesses of 15 to 25 employees, live in mid-tier to larger cities, and do about $1 million in sales annually. They're multicultural, and most will have a college degree and an interest in investing if they haven't already done so. Loma's core values revolve around a people-first, results-driven pursuit of excellence. With these main tenants, we decided that Loma needed a brand that would be sleek and modern while exuding strength, professionalism, and a high level of expertise within their field, which at the same time felt personable and told a story.
After these initial conversations, conceptualization happened relatively fast. We concluded that incorporating the topographic map of the neighborhood the CEO's family was from would work best for achieving a unique brand logo that could tell the story and convey the values of Loma Capital. Considering Loma's ideal client and their desire to stand apart from the competition, a slick, minimalist, and versatile typeface was used as part of Loma's identity. Here are some of the early iterations of the Loma Capital logo.
The Final Logo
After initial logo proofs were sent and thoughts were relayed back to us, only minor changes were necessary to achieve the final brand logo for Loma Capital. We created a more literal representation of Loma's topographic map and placed it inside a square to impart a feeling of trust and stability. We made the logo blue to relay feelings of wisdom, loyalty, and confidence. These choices speak directly to Loma Capital's core values and inform clients of the level of caring and professional service they'll receive from Loma Capital. The decision to have the symbol and wordmark on a single line was made so as to not give a sense of hierarchy but to instead deliver a message of teamwork and unification that clients would be looking for from a private equity firm.
Collateral and Deliverables
Once the final logo was approved, we were able to move on to creating print collateral and brand guidelines. In keeping with the messaging of Loma Capital and its logo, we produced clean, minimalist print collateral that stood unified in color scheme and professional expression. The placement of Loma's topographic symbol n the corners of the postcard and business card designs was an intentional one meant to exemplify the personal touch and connection - their fingerprint, if you will - you'll receive when working with Loma Capital. We also created the tagline "mapping your financial future" that speaks to the expert guidance, attention to detail, and dedication that's required from private equity firms in order for their clients to see long-term growth and success.
The brand guidelines and logo animation also share the same clean and minimal approach as the logo and print collateral, and both read in a linear fashion as opposed to top to bottom. This approach was especially important for the brand guidelines, as they will be transferred across different departments and companies, and clear, easy-to-understand information is vital in those situations.
To view Loma Capital's full branding guidelines, download below
I'll be fully transparent and say that this was my highest-ticketed invoice at the time of quoting and invoicing the client. That is no longer the case, but it did make me nervous. I think there's a natural progression of excitement, focus, then anxiety that comes with delivering any high-value product. Collaborating with Rhiannon Merchant put much of that anxiety to bed, as it was helpful to have someone who not only contributed immensely to this project but understood the ins and outs and shared in the feeling of responsibility to succeed.
Something else that made this process run smoothly was putting a great deal of effort into making thoughtful choices and then thoroughly questioning those choices so they would stand on solid ground if challenged. Being able to express our design choices with confidence when sending proofs cut down on a lot of the back and forth that can derail a project with collaborators at each level who all want their voices to be heard. As much as graphic designers and agencies talk about intentionality in design thinking, intense scrutiny can suffer at the hand of agreeability disguised as teamwork when dealing with input from multiple people. Honesty and kindness are not mutually exclusive, and it's often thought that critique must be harsh and abrasive. Being able to examine and self-diagnose one's work is key to becoming a successful designer, but being able to deliver competing ideas in a thoughtful and considerate manner is key to becoming a great project leader, art director, and person.