The project began when Mason School of Art's graphic design director Donald Starr was contacted about providing an opportunity to design a brand identity/experience for a Mason signature wine that’s the main goal is to fund university-sponsored student scholarships. During the discovery phase, we found that modern wine industry is extremely competitive and fragmented, so it is vital for George Mason's wine brand to have the brand equity required to rise above the competition and get their labels off the shelf and into the homes of their target consumers. The concept of my team and I presented had history, values, and storytelling.
Creative Solution —
The concept begins in two parts that together make up the soul of the brand. First, was to utilize Mason being a young university and not held back by pre-established traditions and use this as an opportunity to create our own tradition through this project, essentially making the wine consumer be a part of a growing Mason history. Second, is to convey “connectedness”. Since Mason is known as one of the most diverse universities in the nation, I wanted to integrate this idea of every person we touch or connect with tells a story; the story we hear is also unique due to it coming from various cultural backgrounds. Having a multi-layered approach creates relatable instances to the brand.
I wanted to highlight the elegance of the wine through the supporting type. Instead of a typical serif, I wanted to create a transition from the classic to modern, I decided to move forward using a Grotesk typeface that shows a modern humanistic side. A team member, Julianna Haley, suggested Harriet Display as this typeface gives off a feeling as though it is about ready to transform into something more decorative, the tail of the typeface shows this through its swooping motion which also complements the casual san-serif Grotesk typeface.
I chose three tones of blue and a gold to compliment the cool triadic tones of blue. The dark blue creates this emotion of class but not uptight, while the youthful blue tone creates a calming feeling that you get when you are around someone special. By combining these elements with the warmth that the gold brings to the table, we are able to encapsulate meaning that conveys an authentic non-direct approach to classical modern and fun sophistication.
Since this is a multi-layered concept, I found that having a name with multi-layered subtle meaning would be a perfect fit. I chose a name that would be meaningful, modular, and has a strong tie with George Mason, the man, and the university. The name I came up with is “The Fourth”. It is meaningful in the way that it points to George Mason, himself, being the fourth of his lineage and to the declaration of rights in which some parts of the declaration of independence was based on. It is modular in the ways that it hints to the four main Mason campuses that currently exist and the local university newspaper Fourth Estate. This whole concept creates a story that when you are drinking with friends, family, or someone you just met, that you can make a connection that lasts a lifetime.
The signature has a modern contemporary vintage feel, so it echoes the ambiance that we are trying to capture: that this is the wine to have when connecting with others. One of my team member, Kayleigh Dahl, suggested the Johnson Center (JC) represent as a brandmark instead of an old chateau that George Mason lived in as the team originally agreed upon. Kayleigh mentioned how the JC building is perfect to represent diversity, as it is considered as the central hub where various people meet. As the team lead, I acknowledge and saw this not only as a great opportunity to give a nod to the present but also to anyone who goes to George Mason. I stylized the building with a modern art-deco approach to give it the feel of progress and not held back by old tradition. The hard detailed lines and ornate filigree are used to create and mirror the JC building and create this subtlety and sophisticated feel.only as a great opportunity to give a nod to the present but also to anyone who goes to George Mason. I stylized the building with a modern art-deco approach to give it the feel of progress and not held back by old tradition. The hard detailed lines and ornate filigree are used to create and mirror the JC building and create this subtlety and sophisticated feel.
Based on the user profiles and user journeys we gathered, my team created a design that gives a sense of simplicity without being overly precious or distracting. The Mason Foundation believes that the first month or so will generate at least $4,000 in donations. Terri Beirne of the Mason Foundation said that program could generate roughly $25,000 in donations to the scholarship fund, and with proper branding, it could significantly increase it by folds.