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branding process


Lampshades — they're not just for wearing on your head at parties.

Regardless of their placement on your light fixtures or your head, most of us don't think about them, and typically settle for the shade that came with the lamp when we bought it. But if that default shade breaks, or you finally realize just how bland and ugly it really is, what to do? If you're in San Diego, your best bet for leveling up your lighting game is a trip to Lampshades Unlimited, which has been adorning bare bulbs with the finest fabrics since 1985.

A Bright Future for a New Owner

When the longtime manager of the store had the opportunity to buy the business from the retiring owner, she also saw it as an opportunity to refresh the signage and branding to align with her vision for a more upscaled, boutique vibe for the shop. With no website and only a few branded materials in use — a business card, letterhead, envelope and the outside sign — there was no better time to update the look of the business.

The extent of the branded collateral at the start of our rebranding journey

The extent of the branded collateral at the start of our rebranding journey

Throwing (Lamp)Shade on the Competition

As a part of my process, I wanted to know what the other options for lamps, lampshades and lighting accessories in town looked like from a branding perspective. While they may be the go-to for many of us in need of lighting solutions, I didn't consider places like Target, Ikea or Walmart, as they are obviously known for a lot more than just lampshades. Beyond another national chain (Lamps Plus) that didn't leave much in the way of direct competition, and what there was varied in regards to the effort put into their identities.

The other lighting and lampshade competition in town

The other lighting and lampshade competition in town

The new owner was also looking to incorporate influences from Art Deco and Art Nouveau in the look and feel of the new brand, so we assembled a mood board of some of the things we both found that we might take inspiration from.

The mood board for the new look of the shop

The mood board for the new look of the shop

In Search of a Lightbulb Moment

For better (or for worse) there are no shortage of typefaces inspired by the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements. I looked for some options that leaned heavily into that vibe, but also tried a few directions that were less obviously references to those styles.

A few of the initial logo directions

A few of the initial logo directions

Mixing and matching our favorite elements from the initial design directions, we had the basic elements of the logo nearly in place. However, there was some concern (I can't remember if it was mine or the client's) that the ornate shade icon from the first phase might not be recognizable as a lampshade — it actually looked more like a rollerblade. Yikes.

So the shade was re-worked completely and I thought we had landed on some options that were very close to final.

​The "almost there" versions

The "almost there" versions

A New Identity Comes to Light

Sure enough, the new shade icon looked a lot more like a lampshade. But it was boring. It didn't fit the vibe the new owner was going for at all — and kudos to her for saying so, and not just accepting the "expert" advice of an ace graphic designer!

So we went back to the "Rollerblade Shade," and with a few tweaks — most crucially, the addition of a finial atop the shape — it not only read as a lampshade, but as a fancy one at that, which was perfect for the upscale feel we were looking for.

The final primary logo

In addition to the primary mark, we needed a longer version to work in the shape of the outside sign (which would also work well for a letterhead or form), and we both liked the circular option as an alternate lockup for use as a possible stamp, a decal for the door, and eventually a 3D woodcut was made of it to go on a wall inside the shop.

Alternate lockups

The client had a particular shade of blue in mind to match the new interior paint, and we also agreed that gold was a nice compliment, and would look great if we used gold foil against the blue for things like hangtags and business cards.

With the core elements of the new branding in place, we began to deploy new and updated signage, forms, window decals and more.

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