Identity Re-Design: Our House of Portland

My association with the AIDS residential treatment facility, Our House of Portland, began back in 1994. In doing an initial graphics inventory for the group, it was determined there were no existing digital files for the Our House logo being used at the time. I was asked to clean up the logo and create the appropriate digital imagery (below left). That request was the beginning of a long-term relationship with Our House.

In the late 90's a redesign of the organization's identity was proposed. I invested a great deal of time in creating and presenting possible new logos based on feedback from staff, volunteers and others. As is often the case in logo redesign projects - especially with nonprofit organizations - one of the greatest challenges was to get beyond the emotional attachment to the old logo design and the question of why it was necessary at all to change things from "the way they have always been." The frustration of organization personnel and myself (especially as it was being done pro bono) resulted in the new logo project never being completed.

In late May 2006, I received an email from the new Marketing Director of Our House of Portland. It was a request for any information I might have on the history of the Our House logo. There was interest in the possibility of revisiting and updating the original logo for the organization. Our House was nearing completion of a new building, on the site of the previous facility, and he felt it might be an appropriate time to put a new identity in place.

The font "City of" (based on the type used by the Union Pacific Railroad and created by RailFonts) had already been selected for use on the new building's signage and the lobby donor board. I was asked to consider using the font for the new identity to give the image the contemporary look of the new structure, interiors and other elements of the project. A new Our House tagline, "Inspiring People with HIV/AIDS to Live Well," was another element I was to possibly include in the new logo. I was provided the color palette of the the interior design firm and painting contractor as an additional reference.

A visit to the nearly complete construction site provided me with a look at the new roofline and an immediate visual image of the icon in my head. I returned to my home studio and completed the logo concepts. It was decided that using the logo in a vertical formats, and also making use of a horizontal version might best serve the needs of the organization (above center and right). With a few days to go before the grand opening of the new home of Our House, embroidered shirts for the staff and volunteers, fridge magnets, banners and some additional signage were ordered.

The design appears in The Big Book of Logos 5 and was also honored with a 2007 American Graphic Design Award.

(Note: My new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives