Graphic design studio by Yurko Gutsulyak

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Redesign for Helga

When the language center “Helga” was founded, its main and unique specialty was Scandinavian languages courses. It was that fact due to which the name of the center emerged as the north European interpretation of the name of its founder and director Olga Mihailova. Today Scandinavian languages focus is no longer of a high priority and has no great importance; however it remains an integral part of the center’s history.

The company’s logo that was created at the beginning was rather accidental than well-founded and relevant. It did not reflect specialty, peculiarity, uniqueness and center philosophy, thus it could not serve as effective means of company recognition.

After identifying the technical task of logo redesign, the following key aspects were brought to attention:
- Scandinavian origin of the name;
- Helga – is a Ukrainian company, that offers foreign language courses as well as Ukrainian language courses to the foreigners;
- Key services provided: language courses, online language studies, translations;
- Priority colors – green, possibly purple.

While generating ideas I decided to concentrate on the specialty of the agency’s scope of work (languages), because combining Ukraine and Scandinavia in one green and purple logo seemed too difficult. I was aiming at finding correct visual metaphor, which would  accurately reflect understanding between two people (that is the main reason what language is for), the way of exchanging thoughts and word transformation.

I was thinking about a conversation between different beings (for example: fish and moose);
about the sound wave and how it can change;
about the prism through which the light penetrates and is divided into specters;
about an hourglass which has two vessels and the sand running between them;
about the fact that an hourglass is the prism that resembles a letter “X” – the first letter of the name “Helga” (Хельга – Helga in Cyrillic)
about other ways of exchanging thoughts (except language)
about what a language consists of and how it can be described;
about transformation of letters;
about similarity and diversity of different letters in different languages;
about transformation in general as translation is a way of transformation
about a mouth as an instrument of sound creation, about an ear as an organ of hearing and their connection with the brain
about telepathy
about interconnection of language and time…

Finally I have chosen two priority ideas, which seemed to me the most suitable. Both of them were interesting not only for creating a single logo but also for developing the whole complex of corporate identity. However, both of them had one imperfection – there was no connection to Ukraine or Scandinavia. I was planning to fix this imperfection by adding style creating elements, perhaps patterns, icons etc.

First logo idea

To show the first letter of the company’s name “X” as a kind of a terminal, prism or transformer which transmits letters through itself and makes them change from Cyrillic to Latin and backward.

I am glad that this concept was not chosen, because even though I believe that this visual idea is extremely endearing, I was not able to find a suitable graphic presentation.

Second logo idea

The main language characteristics are the way it is written and the way it sounds (grammar and phonetics). The idea is to illustrate the sound wave that corresponds to the word “Helga”, and on the bottom put the corresponding name of the company (logo).

I am still in love with this idea, but also glad that it was not chosen. About a couple of months after the current existing logo was approved I came across many different designs that were created based on the image of the sound wave.

While these two concepts were being prepared to be presented to the client, I continued to brainstorm on new alternatives… One time fully intuitively I made a sketch, which clearly had to become the logo for Helga. I realized it at once.

Third logo idea

Indeed, I was able to implement ALL aspects of the brief (even though I was not sure regarding green and purple at the time).

The sign simultaneously reminds a crystal and an ornament

As a crystal, the sign elaborates the sci-fi ideas, where a crystal is associated with accumulation and saving of the information and knowledge, and also allows reading and transmitting thoughts. By this, it assists mutual understanding and communication.  Through this, the crystal shows the essence and role of the language.

As an ornament, or element of the ornament, the sign has something in common in both Ukrainian and Scandinavian cultures. As to the connection with the Ukrainian part of the culture, the symbol has deep roots and positive history.

Created sign has its origin in ancient Slavic (Ukrainian) symbol, which has the name of “Ruzha”.

It’s a solar sign, which is common in Easter egg painting, embroidery, weaving, woodcarving and decorative writing throughout the territory of Ukraine. This is the sign of long life and immortality.

Also, this sign and similar ornaments are common in Norwegian and Swedish decorative arts.

And finally the sign clearly reminds the letter “X” – Helga (Хельга-Helga in Cyrillic)

In one word, I had a sketch and an intuitive feeling of the final result.  However, a lot of work still had to be done on the future logo.

My sketch only had the carcass. Immediately I took priority colors according to the brief and began to search for the inner structure of the symbol.  The main goal for me was to find the balance between the “crystal” and the “ornament” and also to create the clear dynamic in the middle of the symbol by giving energy to it.

Further I assumed that maybe the chosen color gamma for this project is not optimal and decided to create alternative color variations. In the end, I and the client returned to the green and purple.

Finally, all I had to do is to create the way of writing “Helga”.

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