Gardens by Marie is a full-service landscaping and maintenance business in my hometown of Brighton, MI. Marie serves mostly upscale residential clients in the Brighton and Howell areas. She focuses on garden planning, installation, and maintenance. Her goal with this brand was to increase her local visibility, affirm her brand positioning, and reach new clients in new markets.
We’re working with a couple subtly different target markets on this brand. Overall, Gardens by Marie is trying to get the attention of homeowners who want to really develop the environment around their home, and have the budget to pull it off. The first, and possibly most promising, segment is new homeowners moving into a place with the intention of decorating and customizing. The walls are bare, and so is the back yard. These clients are younger, with a lot of creative energy and ideas, likely to take on more ambitious projects. The second segment is older homeowners who have become overwhelmed trying to keep up with their landscape. These clients aren’t home all that often, and when they are, they’d rather spend their time enjoying their space than weeding out gardens. The third segment is long-time homeowners who want to really unlock the potential of their landscape. They spend a good deal of time at home and entertaining. They’re proud of that they’ve done with their outdoor space, but want to take it to the next level. These clients have decided that it’s time to hire a professional to make their garden dreams come true, and they want personal service because of their intimate attachment to the space.
Residential landscaping is a premium service that is naturally only going to appeal to people who can afford it, so I felt it was important to express that “boutique” impression in the logo. I also wanted the logo to acknowledge that a garden is a living system and it’s always changing, infinitely complex with its interactions inside and amongst the plants and soil and the environment. Thus I ended up with an elegant-feeling monoline piece that has an rather simple overall structure, but can be examined more closely as time and context permit. The flower, a Peony, symbolizes happy long-term relationships (such as marriage), in this case a new relationship with your garden and landscape. It can also be mistaken for a rose by someone less versed in botany, and that’s perfectly fine. The leaves of the peony are accurate and will hopefully communicate to potential clients with a bit of garden-sense that Marie knows what she’s doing and can be trusted to design your landscape while speaking to her quality workmanship.
The design process started with serif type treatments, hand-lettered looks, and some illustrative concepts. Feeling a lack of progress, I put it down for the day.
I spent the next few days drawing various concepts, adjusting styles, adding swirls, re-assessing the project goals. A viable candidate appeared at this point, but it seemed a little juvenile, especially with how I rendered it. Back to the sketchbook.
A day or two later, I revisited the project and three similar ideas presented themselves. I mulled them over further and ended up with the general plan for the final logo.
After the plan was laid, I was off to rendering in Adobe Illustrator. A combination of shape-building and the pen tool allowed me to make the brand more of a concrete reality. A few iterations later, I realized that the logo stood best without the woodland creatures, and paired it down to the cardinal on the upper right as an accent. After cutting all the paths to length and working out the intersections, I ended up with the final version of the Gardens by Marie logo.
I initially tried to work with the free font, Moon, off of Behance, but a fellow designer pointed me toward Quicksand and I immediately fell in love. It also helps that Quicksand is a Google font, so it can work on the website as well to really tie the whole thing together.
he abbreviated version is for smaller spaces where the full logo won’t have room to really shine. The full version is intricate design and strongest in situations where an audience can get close and experience the detail unfolding. Much like a garden, this brand mark is functional piece of art. It’s an intricate piece, but I feel that simplifying it more would fail to live up to the subtle intricacies of what Marie does. Gardens are complex living systems, but they have a beautiful sort of chaotic order. My goal was to reflect that in a visual form.
The website was, design-wise, quite easy. It’s just a basic Bootstrap page with kind of a standard layout, spruced up to look as on-brand as possible. All the pictures are mine, I took them with my Nikon at the Dallas Arboretum. Most of them are available for download on my resources page. The hard part was how this was my first WordPress site. I’m not a coder. I focus on brands and people how visuals, advertisements, and websites can connect them. I focus on the big concepts and try to anticipate how users and customers will interact with the brand, the website, the display, the advertisement, or what have you. What I’m saying is that PHP was difficult for me and I have a lot to learn. It was (and to a certain extent, still is) a humbling experience. But I learned so much and grew as a designer because of it.
Looking back at this project about a year later as I’m revisiting my portfolio (June 2016), I’m very proud of my work here. This is easily my most popular work and I receive compliments on the elegance of the logo pretty often. So I won’t lie and act all humble, I love this brand and I’m very, very proud of my work. It’s beautiful, and I think I effectively translated the work that Marie does and the passion she has for gardening into a really nice, refined visual mark. This is some of my absolute best work, because not only is it in my market niche–high end, natural, creative–but the client let me work unhindered. Marie basically gave me a carte blanche to do whatever was necessary to make her brand the best it could possibly be. I believe I accomplished this objective and more.