I was approached in January 2019 with an opportunity to brand a private therapy practice. Coming from a family of therapists, I immediately jumped on the project and began a wonderful journey to build a brand that best represents Cindy Shu Therapy.
The first part of my working relationship with Cindy was to establish who she is as a therapist and what her practice stands for. We've had many conversations and collaborated in intensive working sessions to clearly define her mission, values, and goals for her practice. A strong design comes from a well-defined brand, in which we set out to do using a breakdown of branding terms to build the voice of her practice:
1.0 BRAND PLATFORM
Cindy Shu Therapy is a counseling and therapy office focused on personal growth and mental development for their clients. Their clients range from young working professionals to young families with a variety of topics that the practice specializes in. The method of approaching therapy is not to provide solutions to their struggles, but instead be a reflection to help them understand themselves and as a result, approach their struggles in a healthy manner.
Late 20s to early 40s
Working professionals and young adults, young families with middle school-aged children.
Individuals, couples, families, Asian American community, cultural and ethnic diverse client groups, LGBTQI
TONE AND MANNER
The branding system will reflect the conversational aspect of the practice by letting the type speak for itself in its design elements. Cindy Shu Therapy is client-focused, with its only mission to provide personal growth through conversations. The logotype will reflect the friendly and welcoming voice of the practice, while the design elements will support the logo in keeping the tone minimal and clean. There will be minimal to no illustrations, as the type will bring visual interest through its own form and placement. The colors will be neutral, with muted shades to reflect a calm and welcome vibe while catering to the wide range of audiences.
The website will also reflect the personable aspect of the practice by bringing the potential client through a conversational flow. The tone and manner of the verbiage will be welcoming and friendly, while still keeping it professional.
The practice strives to be an office that allows their clients to feel heard and accepted, which naturally produces personal growth in finding their truest self. The practice will allow their clients to reflect on their struggles and have a deeper understanding of who they are as a person. The branding system will encompass a sense of acceptance and refuge to allow their clients to feel more inclined to get to know the practice more after the first initial impression.
Professional Clean Minimal Approachable
The following images reflect design properties that could be a possible direction for the branding & identity project. It is type focused with minimal color and a clean approach to composition. There are minimal to no illustrations which allow the type and color to be the hero of the project. This can allow the conversational and friendly aspect of the practice to be seen, while the minimal, clean lines/white space gives a professional tone to the entire project.
The following moodboard contains images that possess qualities that Cindy Shu Therapy will possess - refined edginess that contains purposeful placement and balance. The colors are more earthy, having a sense of serenity yet edginess that brings visual interest.
Creating the Logo
I started to brainstorm by using two columns - the first column are words that describe Cindy Shu Therapy as a private practice, and the second column is what I would like the design to convey. To further my train of thought, I created a mind map to see what other words I can think of that would expand my creative thinking. I sketched a few ideas for the logo and the website drawn from selected words from my brainstorming session.
The first draft of the logo features a very straightforward design that focuses mainly on type. There are no illustrations or images as it would risk mistranslation from different clients. The typeface will be a more rounded serif that evokes a feeling of approachability, while the lower half of “Therapy” might be in an uppercase san-serif to gives more visual interest.
I played with different variations of the logo, from one single typeface, a mix of serif and sans serif typefaces, and the possibility of adding lines within the logo. Cindy felt the simpler the better, and chose the direction of her name in a bigger serif typeface paired with a bold sans serif typeface.
Village has created the beautiful typeface, Superior Title and I thought it fit really well with Cindy's branding in its look and feel. However, I felt the terminals of the "C" and "S" were too sharp that it took away from the brand's approachability and friendliness. I modified the typeface by taking the descender in the "y" and applied it to the terminals of the "C" and "S". The entire logotype looked more uniform, approachable and friendly, which was what Cindy and I wanted to achieve.
Creating the Website
Cindy graciously gave me a few private practices to research. I conducted a competitive analysis with 2 particular websites that were very close to what Cindy's practice is about, and found commonalities between the two in their layout, website templates and use of stock photos.
I wanted the website to convey the therapeutic process in focusing on the conversational aspect of the brand. I knew I could utilize the website's behavior and layout to further this thought of bringing the potential client through a story of Cindy Shu Therapy. I utilized the branding guidelines to guide the conversational flow, in stating the practice's mission first, going into who Cindy is, and to her positioning statement and values.
I created low-fi mockups to see how the interaction would be like. I presented these to Cindy for feedback and discussed further on the conversational aspect of the website.
I drafted the first design of the website and conducted usability testing with 3 participants who are within the practice's audience. Each session lasted about 20-30 minutes as the participants explored through the website and gave valuable feedback on the verbiage, layout and what they felt was effective and what needed improvement. From there, I created the final website, and we happily launched the practice!
A final brand styleguide is provided to the client. It contains the final iterations of the brand, uses of the logotype and color, and how the brand is manifested in print and web.
The final iteration of the logo features 3 color variations - a forest green, a deep red and a mustard yellow. These colors were utilized in Cindy's business cards to give them visual interest and to separate her cards from the rest of her competition. The amazing typefaces of Superior Title and Cadiz were used throughout the identity system, giving the branding a sense of familiarity, personableness while still keeping it fresh and professional.
The website features a conversational flow as the client explores the homepage. Just like how the client will experience a growing journey in a therapist office, the client will learn more about Cindy, her mission, values and how she can care for them as they scroll throughout the website. This is coupled with a friendly "voice" of Cindy as she introduces herself and speaks more about her private practice.