Branding Souljam: How I Created Their Custom Logo

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A few years ago, Anna came to me & asked for help designing a logo for the band. I took on the project, feeling both happy & excited to help her.

The thing is, Souljam is a very talented jam band, and designing their logo meant designing a little outside of my comfort zone.

For those of you who don't know exactly what that means, think (or lookup) Grateful Dead, Phish, Widespread Panic, Allman Brothers and have a listen. The band members in this genre are typically free-spirited hippies, lovers of music, & super talented. They produce songs that are long & wandering to take advantage of every available second to show off their mad skills & just feel free while they play.

While I do love the Billy Breathes Phish album and I've been to see Widespread Panic live once with my husband, generally that style of music is not my jam. I can appreciate the talent it takes to play it, but I don't personally love that style of music. I find myself listening to a Widespread Panic song that's 10+ minutes long, wondering when the hell it will end, because I can't tell what the structure of the song is (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, etc.). 

So this project became a prime example of stepping into my client's shoes to get the design right. I knew enough about the style of music & what appeals to their listeners, to step in & give them a design that matched their musical souls.

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To date this one has been one of the most fun projects to work on!

Now, I might be a bit biased, because their lead singer, Anna Keehner, is my little sister and their bass player, Will, is her husband (& my brother-in-law). Regardless of the family connection, I was excited to step a little outside my comfort zone for this project!

Their idea was a custom word mark,

So we looked all over for inspiration to pull from, searching through old ads from the 60's & 70's, album covers, and more.

After finally nailing down a style we liked, I got to work searching for fonts I wanted to start with. I must've gone through a few thousand before landing on a handful and narrowing it down from there.

Once I set up the text, I started altering the letters individually and playing with how to melt them together to create something more free-spirited & fluid that matched their style of music.

I don't like to overwhelm my clients with too many options, so I presented one or 2 ideas at a time, and we revised each from there, moving forward on the same page.

Here's what we came up with in the beginning & the progression that followed so you can see where we started:

 
 

As always, things tend to start out really rough, but once I got the final mockup, I showed Anna, Will & the other band members, and they loved it!!

Their only revision was that the black was too harsh, so it was time to add some color. Since their whole world seems to revolve around tie-dye, I started playing with some different ways to do that:

 
 

But none of those quite hit the mark, until we found this particular tie-dye patterned towel.

Yep! You heard me. You never know where inspiration will hit ya!

The pattern they chose is inspired by a real tie-dyed beach towel. Honestly that couldn't be a better fit for them, since they all live & play in the Vero Beach area of Florida, right along the Atlantic coast!

We finalized the logo, came up with a few alternates to use for their band merchandise & ads for their live performances. We picked out some fonts & some colors, and put together a Souljam brand!

 
 

A little while later, they decided they wanted to try moving from Wordpress, but they didn't know where else to go or what the best platform option was.

Anna was having a lot of trouble with their website on Wordpress. She was getting frustrated, because she wanted to change the theme without changing the background, and also wanted a better system for updating their gig dates on their site, as well as doing other updates & making it more modern.

So of course I suggested Squarespace, knowing it'd be way simpler & easier for her to keep up with. They did a trial, she tinkered with it a bit & decided to try it out, so I got started on the design.

While I worked, they got some professional photography done for the band, and those photos turned out fantastic!! You can see them in the gallery on their site.

When the website was done, I handed over the ownership to her, and she made me an Admin, so I could help on the backend as needed.

 
 

Now Anna does all of the website updates herself.

When she needs to create a new page, she can. When she needs to update photos, she can. When she needs to add new gig dates, she does.

This is what Anna says about moving from Wordpress to Squarespace:

 
 

You can take a peek at their site & snoop around if you like! They have videos, recordings to listen to, photos, an updated calendar, and contact info if you'd like to say hi!

They perform locally within a certain distance, since they provide their own sound equipment, so if you're interested in booking, contact them for details.

You can find & follow Souljam on any of the following:

Instagram
Twitter
Facebook
YouTube
& Soundcloud

You can also support their band, and buy some of their merch! The profit goes to producing more merch for Souljam fans & also toward recording an album!

 
 
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Sister or not, I've really enjoyed working on this ongoing project over the last few years. I'm really proud of the brand consistency they've maintained since I handed it off to them, and proud of all the updates to the site they've made (with very little help from me)!

They do all their own flyers on Canva and other apps, and all their own website updates. If this group of free-spirited hippies can work the technology, then so can you! 

If you need a brand or website design, give me a shout & let's talk about how I can help you too!

Katelyn Dekle

Studio 1862, P.O. Box 244, Calvary, Ga, 39828

I'm a freelance graphic designer. I've been designing for 10 years, and still love it! My passion is helping small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs become successful by providing professional branding and website design services. What do you need help with right now? Visit my website for advice from my blog, sign up for my newsletter + access to freebies, or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest to stay connected! =)