How to Sustainably Design Your Brand

At first thought, it may not seem like graphic design and sustainability are related in any way—but just the opposite is true. While a well-thought-out and well-executed design may not help reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere or restore the water supply, it can help reduce waste in the long run. Let me explain.

Timeless Design

Whether you’re debuting your company/brand for the first time or pursuing a rebrand, the logo and design elements you choose are extremely important to sustainability. Does your logo design simply follow a trend, or will its simplicity stand the test of time? As we discussed in this blog post, a good logo is simple, quickly identifiable, memorable, and timeless.

When your company’s logo and design elements remain fresh and relevant for decades, you’ll save uncountable dollars on the materials needed for these brand updates. When you update your brand’s look and feel, you not only have to pay the professionals working on your rebrand, but you’ll also have to dispose of and replace any materials containing your current look. Say goodbye to your business cards, t-shirts, vinyl and signage, and any other collateral. This not only takes a hit to your bank account, but to landfills as well.

Kent County Road Commission

When our client Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) came to us looking for a brand update, we knew that we were tasked with much more than creating an updated logo—its relevance had to stand the test of time. Their old logo included a complex tree shape that caused vinyl to fail on a regular basis on trucks, road and street signs. With this in mind, we designed a logo that embodied simplicity and timelessness.

KCRC Logo Transformation

As you can see in this transformation, the KCRC logo went from four colors to one color on their 5,000+ street signs which are present on 1,960 miles of roads. On new signs, the updated logo can be replicated with at least a 75% savings.

KCRC’s new logo was close enough to their older logo so it could be grandfathered in over time rather than busting their budget by replacing branded items all at once. This gradual logo replacement is not only monetarily sustainable, but more sustainable for our planet, as well.

Sustainable Execution of Design

Sustainable Business Cards

As much as we’d like to limit the use of paper products in the workplace, there is some print collateral that must live on—business cards, for example. While business cards are still important to always have on hand, you can still source, print and dispose of them responsibly.

Upon our recent TIS rebrand, we ordered a new batch of business cards which are made from recycled paper and are also compostable—just about as Earth-friendly as you can get. You can even opt for soy-based inks if you plan to print your business cards or print materials on a traditional press versus digitally.

Implementing Sustainable Design Practices

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to how to successfully implement sustainability in design. What matters isn’t the method of which you choose to incorporate sustainable design practices; rather it is the effort you put in to make the changes necessary for a better industry and world for everyone. Designers: please feel free to share any other sustainable design practices you implement in the comments section below.