Featured Project: élan

Client: Kichler Lighting
My Role: Creative Manger, Senior Graphic Designer
Scope of Work: Branding | Logo Design | Catalog Design | Print Design | Website Design | Interior Design | Art Direction | Photography Direction

The Challenge

Kichler Lighting launched a contemporary lighting brand, élan, that featured products in new and artistic forms. The desired goal was to create a brand look that conveyed the unique and modern style reflective of the products. The initial launch of this product took place at a bi-annual Dallas International Lighting Show held in the Dallas Market Center, where the brand would be showcased in a showroom separate from the Kichler brand.

Process

Part of the preliminary plan and process was product development. I was not originally part of this early product development process as the preliminary research was completed by the executives who initiated the idea of the élan brand. This research was integral in setting the tone for the brand. After I had worked with the executives in the capacity of art direction, I was later asked to additionally take on the role of Product Manager for the élan brand.

Product management was a new and exciting challenge for me. As part of this process, we researched the target customer and worked on a brand statement for élan. I researched contemporary home and lighting product trends and then developed inspirations for product designers. I worked on product plans, learned how to review engineering drawings as well as understanding the lifecycle of product development. Communicating at all levels for this project, with executive leadership, sales teams, product designers, engineering teams, and customers, was a rewarding and educational experience.

Over the course of the first four years, I named many of the product collections. The research for the process of naming proved challenging in attempting to complement a product’s aesthetics, while staying within legal and copyright parameters.

Branding & Logo Design

In the initial development of the élan brand, I assisted in naming the brand.  We created over 400 brand name options before the “élan” name was chosen.

While the brand name was in fluctuation, I created many logo options to correspond with the brand name options, until the élan name was selected. Once the élan name was designated, the Kichler executive staff chose a black diamond shaped logo as their favorite concept. The logo was later simplified to just the text of the brand name.

I developed other materials for the brand, such as business cards, showroom hangtags, and print ads.

Catalogs

The concept around the first catalog was to convey the modern style of the products with unique photography and minimal copy.  This catalog was printed with a soft-touch aqueous + spot UV cover and perfect bound.  Most of the original fixtures had chrome finishes with crystal accents so I created a dark color palette to showcase the product. Several years of catalogs then followed this bold style.

For subsequent catalogs, I worked with additional Kichler Lighting teams, while also fulfilling the art direction and production of layouts. I have since worked on over a dozen catalogs that have ranged from 30 to over 300 pages.

The brand look has evolved from a dark color palette to incorporating a range of gray tones. In continued development of the brand, I created a design structure  that included layered angles and an integration of lighter tones. To reflect the new brand look, I developed a brand guidelines manual that included the new color palette.

Showroom

Along with executives and team leaders, I additionally helped design the original élan showroom in the Dallas Market Center. I designed both 2D and 3D signage, as well as assisted in designing the product layouts and working with galleries to showcase local art that complemented the élan lighting products.

Learnings

The brand look was also integrated into a new élan website. I collaborated with a vendor on the design of the original website. Subsequently, this was a wonderful learning process on the foundational elements of website design and WordPress maintenance. The élan brand products were later merged into the Kichler website.

Challenges & Insights

Since launching the élan brand involved a new product category for Kichler Lighting, I was mindful of the budget constraints. For the first several years of catalogs, I performed all of the art direction and production, managed the proofing process and attended press approvals.

To additionally keep costs low, I worked on a photography plan with the product and engineering teams which consisted of building an in-house photography studio, creating schedules and coordinating product samples. I directed photographers and internal staff in the photo process. For both photography and video direction I created style boards and was on set for all production. Using internal teams and in-house resources saved on both product shipping and assembly costs as well as on using additional photo studio staff.

Outcome

The élan brand was well received in its initial launch with sales of the product. It has continued to grow, and the brand is still a part of the Kichler Lighting portfolio today.

Personally, this is one of the most rewarding projects of my career with Kichler. From the research and designing, to the management and collaboration at all levels of teams, to help develop and launch the élan brand as well as see the brand evolve over many years has helped me expand my skills and grow as a professional.

Designs, Video and Photos: ©Kichler Lighting LLC