I completed the visual branding for House of Nzinga towards the latter part of 2016 for client Patricia Yumba Muzinga, a bilingual (French and English) freelancer in the PR & Communications industry who loves to help individuals, entrepreneurs and organisations with their translation, copy-writing and editing needs.
This was such a fun project for me because I LOVE to learn about new things, especially if they are completely out of my normal sphere of knowledge, and this one totally was! The name House of Nzinga was inspired by the Patricia’s name ‘Muzinga’ (which originates from the word ‘Nzinga’) and also by the historical African leader, Queen Nzinga.
After extensive research, I really felt that I wanted to include the feeling of royalty/regality and femininity in this branding work, and would love to show you a glimpse below into some parts of the process the client and I went through in creating the final product…
EXPLORING IDEAS – This stage in the process is always about gathering visual inspiration and obtaining a greater understanding of a brand through researching elements that make them who/what they are. In this case. the obvious thing to tackle first was the subject of the Queen, because this influential African woman was so integral to the naming of the brand, I knew I had to find out more about what made her so special… Queen Nzinga (1583-1663) was hailed as one of the greatest female rulers in Africa. She was viewed as a visionary leader and diplomat, who fought against the slave trade and increasing European influences, helping Angola to resist Portuguese colonization for almost 30 years.
PLAYING AROUND – once I’d found some visual references and other inspiration for the ideas that started to fill my head, I began to play around with all of these in Adobe Illustrator which is the software I use to do most of my work in. As you can see, this is a messy stage and I like to surround my ‘artboard’ with all the imagery I’ve gathered that inspires me…
CONCEPTUALISING – bringing my ideas to life – here are a few of the first round concepts I sent through to the client for review. I typically do my first set of designs in black and white only so that the client can focus on the idea itself rather than colours, and because, design rule of thumb, a logo should always work in black and white as well as colour. This stage for me is always very ‘imperfect’ – it’s more about finding direction rather than having everything 100% perfect – I save that for right at the end 😉
REFINING – Patricia really liked the coat of arms / badge / shield idea and I played around with a few more concepts as she also wanted to include a feminine African silhouette in the design. After figuring out the direction we were going in, I wanted to look at options regarding effects and colour, so I tried a few different approaches for the client to review (pictured below – before working on the silhouette figure idea…)
FINISHING UP – we looked at a number of different feminine silhouettes and Patricia decided that she liked the one we ended up using, a lady with a slightly elongated neck (to emphasize the royal aspect of the brand) wearing a traditional African-style head wrap (eluded to in the illustration by the shape created above the face/head) Patricia preferred the simple line drawing approach with a muted colour scheme to create a soft feminine vibe. This colour palette is larger than I would typically advise as necessary for a visual branding project, but I do think it works beautifully with with the intricate details of the coat of arms. The submark and icons make it a versatile brand – consistent and recognisable.
I love the work I did for this because its so different to what is ‘on trend’ at the moment in terms of visual identities – I’m seeing so much same-same-but-different (but not very different!) out there and it’s great to work on something unique in the midst of it all.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this?