the Foundry Branding

Brand Items, the Foundry and Buffalo Lab Makerspace

In only several years the Foundry, a Buffalo business incubator, had grown from a few residents to 30 businesses. They needed a brand that reflected this growth and their mission:

Empowering individuals through education and entrepreneurship

The Foundry’s name is a combination of “found” and “ry”.  The idea being that this is the place where you find what you need. The existing logo didn’t effectively communicate this idea of finding or read well in many applications. People rarely noticed any distinction between “found” and “ry”. Below is the logo before and after the rebrand.

Before and after rebranding

The Foundry hosts everything from its building on the East Side of Buffalo. The building was the most valuable brand symbol. It also needed to be recognizable when small or in one color. To demark “found” and “ry” I used a carrot. This graphic separation reads in single color and alludes to bookmarking or wayfinding. Beyond this, the brand needed a total update on typography and color. There wasn’t a system that tied everything into a strong cohesive whole.

Foundry Brand Design, Quick reference

The first step to the rebrand was a deep dive into the non-profit’s values, identity, and beliefs. This rendered four emotive qualities: Open, Dynamic, Urban, and Progressive. These became the building blocks that helped steer the design direction. All of this was captured in a full Brand Guide (snapshot above) that served as a reference for the various designers who created collateral.

Business cards and banners

Buffalo Lab was a maker space that operated out of the Foundry’s building. Eventually, they combined into one organization. To reflect this shift, Buffalo Lab’s brand was modified to work alongside the Foundry’s.

Benefit Auction poster

A yearly benefit auction raised funds for building improvements and office expansions for entrepreneurs. The poster above for this event was one of the first true tests of the new brand identity. Everything worked together to create a bold, character-filled look.

Behind the Scenes:

Megan McNally, the director of the Foundry, worked with me to define who the Foundry is. This initial exploration was pivotal in establishing the final direction. The sketches below explored how to communicate finding and simplify the building icon.

Initial logo sketches
Refined concepts, vector artwork

The Foundry was eclectic! The residents included artists, designers, craftsmen, upholsters, woodworkers, metalworkers, among others. Everything was about creating things. We wanted to preserve that gritty hand-made element. The refined concepts above didn’t succeed at really capturing those qualities. Megan ended up pointing to an early sketch that she really liked. I had skipped this one, but ultimately, this little sketch became the inspiration for the final logo.

Logo icon and typography progression

The above image shows the development of the final building icon. Abstracting the building into bold lines made an effective, recognizable, shape. I somehow realized I could replace the building’s facade with an “F” for Foundry. This also made the icon more square, giving it the flexibility to fit in any context.

The Foundry was an old building, it also used to be a laundromat. It has this industrial feeling that I wanted to translate into the typography. Eventually, I settled on a utilitarian, condensed font that was tracked out. Who increases tracking on a condensed font? It seems nonsensical, but I wanted every letter to feel like a block or brick. Softening the corners made it appear like it was routed from wood. This less precise, hand-made aesthetic was appropriate for a brand that focuses on hands-on craftsmanship.