Project Description

The Client: School of Historical Arts, a new HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) club in Tauranga. They want to do things a little differently than most clubs, and learn collaboratively with input and development from the members, including expanding to other historical pursuits they have interest in, such as tailoring or heraldry. This is in contrast to the traditional approach which is top-down from one master or manuscript, and combat-only.

The Brief: The club wanted a logo so they have an identity they can start marketing and growing members. They didn’t mind it being HEMA-centric since that would be the initial draw and focus of the club. Keywords they put forward in the initial meeting were clean, disciplined, control, mastery and modern.

Deliverables: Logo files that can be used in multiple different branding situations.


After a discovery session with the client where we looked at other clubs’ branding and defined the brief, a range of concepts were produced to test the waters of the client’s preferences within the brief’s scope. My goal was to make recognisable and iconic shapes with elements related to HEMA (mainly swords), and academia and learning, as well as geometric shapes to represent other related concepts, with a clean and modern take.

Some very free and dense sketchbook concepts meant more as personal visual shorthand, lead to clean versions and iteration of the ideas I thought had most potential.

I then presented a select set to the client with explanations of my thoughts and reasoning.

Explanation slides

Results: They liked a lot of the elements of B and what it represented, but were worried it would be too busy. F2’s double meaning of swords and roof also drew appreciation, as well as how clean and modern the options were in general. They preferred the stylised over the literal options. In the end they were drawn to A1 and decided to proceed with it directly, skipping exploring further options. This was due to its elegance in representing exactly what the club was about – combat and learning – in very few elements. However they really liked B’s text arrangement and asked to see it next to the logo of A1, which was provided shortly after.

Given the choice between representing the thickness of the book with an extra line for dimensionality and weight vs removing it for simplicity, they opted for the version with. Happy with the text treatment, it was time to move on to the next stage.

Colour and Style development

An excerpt of my workspace

Keeping the brief in mind I explored different treatments and colour options. My goals were twofold: on the emotional messaging side, to look for schemes that would make the brand stand out as modern and serious, but not edgy and gritty like some existing branding; and on the technical side, that could be used in a lot of different scenarios – large and small, on dark and light backgrounds. I presented a number of options to see which way the client was leaning in regards to how colourful vs reserved they wanted to go, as well as the arrangement of colours.

Results: They really liked 1 and 6, with a special mention to 2 for elegance but wanting to go with the more colourful directions. After discussion they preferred 1, since while they really liked 6 and in isolation it was a cooler colour treatment, it was agreed it was not as appropriate for the club as 1. There were also technical worries about being able to nicely produce such an array of colours in a gradient consistently, for example on a club uniform. They again decided to forgo further iteration, and continue with 1, once I clarified that both arrangements would be used in different situations and it wasn’t one over the other.

Variations and application

With the logo and colours nailed down, now came the time to refine the small details such as letter spacing and size, exact logo size relative to text, line weight etc. In addition, how exactly the logo would be used on different kinds of backgrounds and any variations that needed to be made to accommodate.

When presented with this final decision, the client went with set 1 for the cleanliness of the borderless logo and use of the yellow book, even though it involves more variations to accommodate for its lack of a fill shape.

And so we arrive at the final set of logos, with its main colour scheme and variations for different use cases, ready to be used on all manner of branding and materials.