Seyi Olusanya is a trained architect and holds an MSc in Environmental Design. He enjoys creating brand experiences and visual identities for companies. Seyi believes graphics should be contextual to a company’s values and shouldn’t just be a logo.
How did Da Design Studio get started?
Seyi started Da Design Studio in the first year of his Master’s programme. He says architecture is a design programme but practising in Nigeria comes with a lot of bureaucracy and politics so he decided to delve into branding because it had a much lower barrier of entry and the level of branding in Nigeria was poor.
“A lot of Nigerian companies just design a logo out of anywhere that’s shiny and multicoloured and they think that is branding”. Seyi quickly learned that brand design had no proper structure and started Da Design Studio.
What’s the design process like at Da Design Studio?
Da design studio creates visual identities based on a company’s values. “People think the function of the brand is basic and they think that’s what branding is all about”. The studio starts by requesting for the client’s values and unique selling propositions. “Some clients just want to rush and setup shop” says Seyi.
Upon deciding on the values of the brand(when companies have no values, the team has meetings until they come up with a set of values), the team begins to study visuals in the company’s industry. An example is in the financial industry – banks tend to have strong, solid colours with their branding as compared to technology startups that are more playful and have brighter colours.
Typically, Da Design Studio builds elements for a brand in one direction. They start with a couple of different options at the beginning and quickly narrow it down to one direction before building elements that form a complete visual identity.
On Rebranding Paystack
Paystack wanted its logo to have more meaning and wanted to create a visual story around its services with a new identity. At the time of rebranding(and now), there were a lot of fintech startups offering similar services. Paystack wanted to stand out of the proverbial crowd. Seyi says with the brief Paystack didn’t want to be seen as just another large corporation. They already had a friendly tone with their tweets and had begun doing this unconsciously.
Ope Aikomo(Product Designer at Paystack) wanted to be part of the design process but couldn’t. Paystack sent in rebrand identities of other technology startups that they liked – this included Zendesk’s new visual identity.
3 weeks after the brief, Da Design studio met with Paystack again to go over sketches they had designed. The client picked out elements they loved and elements they didn’t love to set the company on a direction. After another 4 weeks, Seyi and the team had come up with a full visual identity including a new logo, tone of voice, typography, colours, extended logos, animations and how these blended together to tell Paystack’s story.
How did Da Design decide on elements?
Paystack’s old logo was a P with a tick. The new logo incorporates 4 bars of stacks on top of each other to form a P. An earlier iteration had 3 stacks and looked like an F while another iteration had 5 stacks and was too heavy to scale into larger sizes. After days of tweaking the gaps between each stack and fixing the round edges, Paystack’s logo became this:
“The stacks weren’t a part of Paystack’s original identity. We felt the name Paystack ingenious, easy to remember and simple. Stacks communicated the ease of the brand and its services”. Iconography was also created using these stacks.
For a lot of businesses and developers, Paystack is an easy tool to use. This is one of the core values of Paystack – easy setup to receive money as fast as possible. Seyi wanted to morph the story behind easy payments into a simple statement and essentially cut a long blog post into a tagline.
Go Online. Sign up. Get Paid.
Da Design Studio came up with this tagline inspired by “As easy as ABC” and “As easy as 123”. These are things that are easy for anyone to remember. It’s memorable, straight to the point and reflects Paystack’s value.
The Hands Element
An element Paystack is yet to introduce is the Hands element. “The hands were an interpretation of the guy factor that Paystack had. We thought that Paystack could use this while sponsoring developer events and in engagement with the developer community. The hands were also designed from the stack. If you check our site, you’ll notice we placed it on promotional items like mugs. It is the tangible element of Paystack’s branding.”
The hands are primarily black hands because Paystack’s primary market is Nigeria. Yes, the studio knew they would eventually scale but had to reflect the current state of the company in designing this element.
Da Design studio has worked with a few other technology startups who are yet to launch their product as well as Crevance – a payday credit and loans company. The tagline for Crevance is “smile, you’ve got credit” and its logo is a falling note with a smile.
USPs are the backbone, Brand Identity should be Truth.
Seyi says his company rejects briefs when there aren’t Unique Selling Propositions or unique values that will make the brand stand out. “Unique values are the backbone of all design”.
“Design is meant to properly represent what already exists. Brand identity should always be truthful”.