USGBC Live branding/event platform


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USGBC Live branding/event platform

In 2021, USGBC launched an all-new platform called USGBC Live. USGBC Live combines the expertise of its large community of green building leaders with data, insights, and stories from the thousands of LEED and green building projects around the globe.

The logo combines a familiar brand font of USGBC’s with a new contemporary digital typeface that pays homage to Eric Gill’s original designs. USGBC Live’s color palette pulls bright colors from nature and features two blues—according to color psychology, blue is associated with trustworthiness and reliability. USGBC Live should feel familiar to USGBC’s audience, but introduce a new, bright, exciting palette.

The USGBC Live brand focuses on collage elements and layers of information. During 2020, we all were faced with the challenge of working and learning from home, or adjusting our routines because of the pandemic. People are digesting information differently now—we are scrolling more, sharing links, jotting down ideas and Googling everything. The USGBC Live brand look represents journal note-taking, ripped headlines, cutout photography and layers to create depth. Black-and-white photography creates the feel of newspapers and magazines.

The brand experience is immersive, and comes complete with a digital toolkit that offers web badges, social media graphics, Zoom backgrounds and merchandise to represent USGBC Live to an attendee. Virtual events can feel isolating, but I really want USGBC Live to bring the green building community together—even if we can’t be together in person.

USGBC Live

USGBC Live

USGBC Brand refresh


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USGBC Brand refresh

Winner of a GDUSA 2020 American Inhouse Design Award.

As USGBC continues to grow, so has our brand. To usher in the second generation of USGBC, we are sharing an updated visual brand that brings the spirit of USGBC and its community to life. This project included introducing new brand guidelines, a new wordmark to represent our staff better, as well as a new application for our recognizable oak leaves. We introduced a simplified color palette that focused on blues to instill the feeling of loyalty and stability, along with two new fonts that offer less severe transitions and stroke weights, ensuring they have a humanist tone of voice. We also prepared a staff toolkit that included social graphics, how to be a brand ambassador, and how to talk about our brand refresh with our customers. The entire refresh was accompanied by an illustrated custom suite of iconography that can be used when representing complex or more abstract ideas, especially when paired with article content published online, in email distributions or on social media.

USGBC Brand Refresh

USGBC Brand Refresh

Case study: Branding for a new virtual event


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Case study: Branding for a new virtual event

As we all pivoted away from in-person events in 2020, the biggest challenge, from a design perspective, was to create an immersive experience that still felt personal and engaging.

In 2021, USGBC launched an all-new platform called USGBC Live. USGBC Live combines the expertise of its large community of green building leaders with data, insights, and stories from the thousands of LEED and green building projects around the globe. The event will share insightful and engaging conversations about the future of buildings, cities and communities.

What’s unique about USGBC Live is that it will be held virtually from June 8–10—but it is also coupled with monthly touchpoints designed to further your expertise and keep you up to date on the latest and greatest in green building, year-round.

When approaching this year-round event platform as a design problem to solve, I really wanted to think about how to create an evergreen event look that felt fresh and new. It was important to ensure the platform also felt inclusive and personal to all of our audience members. I want people to log in to USGBC Live and see themselves in the branding, feel connected to the colors and be inspired by the content.

A bright collage graphic of faces and office tools

The logo combines a familiar brand font of USGBC’s with a new contemporary digital typeface that pays homage to Eric Gill’s original designs. It is designed by Monotype Studio designer George Ryan. USGBC Live’s color palette pulls bright colors from nature and features two blues—according to color psychology, blue is associated with trustworthiness and reliability. USGBC Live should feel familiar to USGBC’s audience, but introduce a new, bright, exciting palette.

A selection of fonts

The USGBC Live brand focuses on collage elements and layers of information. During 2020, we all were faced with the challenge of working and learning from home, or adjusting our routines because of the pandemic. People are digesting information differently now—we are scrolling more, sharing links, jotting down ideas and Googling everything. The USGBC Live brand look represents journal note-taking, ripped headlines, cutout photography and layers to create depth. Black-and-white photography creates the feel of newspapers and magazines.

The brand experience is immersive, and comes complete with a digital toolkit that offers web badges, social media graphics, Zoom backgrounds and merchandise to represent USGBC Live to an attendee. Virtual events can feel isolating, but I really want USGBC Live to bring the green building community together—even if we can’t be together in person.

A collage of t-shirts with USGBC Live branding

Will you be attending USGBC Live events this year?

Explore USGBC Live

USGBC brand refresh wins award


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USGBC brand refresh wins award

In February, USGBC launched a brand refresh to remain relevant and communicate how our organization is evolving. The refresh included a new font combination, clear usage guidelines for our formal USGBC seal, a staff wordmark and internal identity to unify colleagues, hand-illustrated iconography to set us apart in the industry, and a simplified color palette that communicates stability and loyalty.

Our social graphics really focused on reminding our audience that while we have a new look, we stand by the same mission.

We entered our brand refresh into Graphic Design USA’s (GDUSA) American Inhouse Design Awards competition and took home the award in the Branding + Identity Programs category! As a designer, it feels really great to have something received well from your internal team and colleagues, but it’s also so important to gain insight and feedback from the design community. USGBC’s project was selected from more than 6,000 entries. I am a big advocate for entering projects into competitions to see how you stack up next to winners, or other organizations with similar values.

We paired Benton Sans and Benton Modern Display together. Both typefaces feature organic shapes and subtle transitions of stroke width, which creates a less severe, humanist tone of voice.

GDUSA’s American Inhouse Design Awards are the original and premier showcase for outstanding work by in-house designers. These awards are an incredible example of how creative professionals who have a deep and intimate knowledge of institutional identity, culture and objectives are perfectly positioned to deliver effective and authentic communication. Working in-house, for a designer, can feel creatively limiting, but such designers have such a well-rounded understanding of their organization and brand, and that can be seen in award-winning work.

We developed a full set of hand-illustrated iconography to set our brand apart from others.

In-house designers are resilient, and I believe this showcase proves that. This award is an accomplishment for my whole team—a collaborative team working together to advance our organization’s goals every day.

In the Branding + Identity Programs category, we won next to other in-house groups like WebMD Health Services, Robert Half Global Creative, PenFed Credit Union Marketing, Navy Federal Credit Union, Nichols College and GAF/Creative Design Services. Check out all of the winners across all categories on GDUSA’s website.

See more about our winning brand refresh

USGBC’s brand refresh: Creating new icons


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USGBC’s brand refresh: Creating new icons

USGBC recently completed a brand refresh, and one of the follow-up tasks was to create an icon image set for the marketing team to use in emails and article feature images. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of my thought process and graphic design techniques. If you’re working on a similar project, keep these tips in mind.

1. Ask the right questions.

When creating an icon set, it’s important to consider what sorts of messages you would like to communicate. What kinds of images are repeated throughout your organization’s marketing pieces? What themes are being communicated? I found that some common themes throughout USGBCs marketing include health, environmentalism, technology, education and business.

2. Assemble your basic graphics.

I started by collecting inspiration through different icons and graphics that might be useful to the USGBC marketing team—mainly focusing on graphics that evoke environmentalism or that have flora and fauna themes. I then exported them to my tablet, and brought them into the illustration app ProCreate, where I was then able to hand-illustrate each icon. This allowed the icons to have a more organic look.

3. Create consistent styles.

Once I had hand-drawn all the graphics, I exported them as JPEG files and brought them into Illustrator, where I used the “image trace” function. This function allows you to take raster images (JPEG, PNG, PSD) and convert them into vector artwork. From there, I was able to separate and place each graphic onto a circle, using colors from the new USGBC style guide. I made sure that all the graphics were similar in size by designing them on the same page and lining them up, to give them more consistency.

By creating and not purchasing the icon set, USGBC can stand out among similar organizations and create unique marketing pieces. These icons will also keep our branding consistent throughout all of our media, and will help us create a stronger brand identity and recognition.

Read more about USGBC’s brand refresh

Branding 101: Lessons from a marketing graduate program


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Branding 101: Lessons from a marketing graduate program

What is a brand? The professor who teaches my “Branding Concept” class put it really well: If your organization is a pyramid, your brand is the top piece of that pyramid. As your organization expands its operations, it should continue to follow the guidelines set by the triangle at the top of the pyramid.

Scale your brand choices and keep them consistent.

That lesson can help when making small marketing decisions about brand interpretation, like what swag to give away at an event. For USGBC, it makes more sense to promote our organization on a sustainable tote bag or reusable water bottle, instead of a koozie or pair of sunglasses. That’s an example of how this global brand manifests itself in individual marketing choices. Referencing that top pyramid guide can help you make decisions as detailed as what emoji to use in an email subject line.

Create a positioning statement to clarify your brand.

Need help finding who you are as a brand? Try writing your positioning statement. A positioning statement is an internal document that helps clarify what problem you are solving for customers. What “job” does your brand do for people?

  • For [a target audience, based on needs]
  • Our brand is [frame of reference—category in the consumer’s mind]
  • That provides [3 key benefits]
  • Because [reason to believe]

For USGBC, that might look something like:

  • For professionals in the built environment who need to quantify their environmental impact
  • Our brand is the independent green building certification organization
  • that provides education, verification and guidelines of environmental standards
  • Because we wrote the definition of what is environmentally friendly in buildings and sites

Ultimately, anything your business does can be replicated by some other organization. Your brand is the only thing that cannot be taken or copied. Your reputation is specific to you, and the brand is what people identify you as. Your brand is your identity.

See more on branding from USGBC Studio

How to enforce brand guidelines


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How to enforce brand guidelines

A logo is the fabric of any company’s identity. It not only tells the public where a product comes from, but also represents a brand’s message, values and leadership in the market. Now, have you ever wondered how an organization protects its logos?

At USGBC, we have several brand assets, but the most frequently requested is our LEED certification logo—a globally recognized symbol of leadership and excellence in green, high-performance buildings. Attaining LEED certification demonstrates leadership in implementing environmentally responsible building practices.

In addition, the certification logo is widely used to acknowledge a project’s achievement and symbolize a building’s commitment to cost savings, lower carbon emissions and healthier environments for the places in which we live, work and play. It’s important that we protect the logo, so that only eligible projects are using it to represent their projects.

The importance of brand consistency

Inconsistent branding can have many negative side effects. Maintaining brand consistency directly translates to how dependable people consider your organization, product or service to be. A product or service marketed with the wrong logo might cause a customer to lose trust in it. A website with the wrong logo may make visitors question the authenticity of the product or service being offered on the site.

The correct usage of brand assets is critical for upholding the credibility of a brand. But how do you do this?

At USGBC, we recognize that our LEED project teams are a part of a select group of leaders, and it’s important that they’re recognized as such for their hard work applying integrative design processes to better the future of our built environment. To help uphold our branding in the market, our marketing team created USGBC’s Trademark and Branding Guidelines, which includes the dos and don’ts on how to use our brand assets in your marketing materials.

While we follow these rules internally, we also rely on our members and the larger community to follow these guidelines to maintain the consistent look and feel of USGBC brand assets in their own materials. If branding guidelines are not enforced, they lose their meaning.

Here a few tips on how to diplomatically answer customer questions about your brand usage:

1. Be understanding.

I’ve become very familiar with USGBC’s Trademark and Branding Guidelines. In fact, I look at them every day. It’s important for me to remember that not everyone is looking at these guidelines as frequently as I am, though, so I often spell out the rules in an email, instead of pointing our customers to the long document.

2. Provide helpful resources.

That said, I always provide our customers with the full USGBC Trademark and Branding Guidelines document. It is a helpful resource whenever I have to enforce our policies. In a customer service-centric role, you’re typically trained to tell your customer “yes,” but that can’t always be the case when enforcing branding rules. Fall back on your guidelines, and always point out the page where the rule you’re enforcing can be found, so customers can view it easily.

Whenever it makes sense to do so, you can also point to helpful resources on your website. For example, when a user asks for a logo for their presentation, I always make sure to point them in the direction of our Why LEED for Your Clients? deck and encourage them to use any slides from the presentation. This not only helps ensure our brand is used consistently, but also helps make our customers’ job easier—that’s a win in my book.

3. Answer the question or find a resolution.

All questions have an answer or resolution, even if it’s not the one the customer was hoping for. I make sure I am either communicating the rules in a simple way or helping to provide the requested resource (or an alternate one).

Enforcing your brand guidelines can only help build your brand’s visibility and reputation in the industry. While it can sometimes feel like you’re having to play “good cop, bad cop,” it’s always important to remember that you’re protecting the value of the brand for all of its users.

Learn more about LEED branding with our design team

Brand recognition with LEED digital badges


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Brand recognition with LEED digital badges

As with our LEED wordmark, USGBC is always looking for ways to help companies promote their LEED-certified and registered projects while still preserving the integrity of the LEED program logo and certification mark.

LEED digital badges

Although projects are able to use the LEED program logo once they have registered their project, and the LEED certification logo once their project has been certified, there hasn’t been a way to display their achievements on websites and other digital locations. We created these badges with an eye towards addressing that need.

LEED digital badges

Now, both registered and certified projects have several options for displaying LEED certifications and registrations on their websites, blogs, social channels and any other relevant digital areas, simultaneously allowing us to increase LEED brand recognition.

Learn more about our LEED branding

Creating cohesive branding for local events


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Creating cohesive branding for local events

Our local USGBC communities host events all over the country, but we know that we have three very large events each year. GreenerBuilder, Impact and Rocky Mountain Green are our highest-profile USGBC community events. Our marketing team decided that creating short style guides for these three events could help direct the development of assets such as the website, signage, on-site materials and other collateral. We wanted these events to have some cohesiveness across the board, to give them their own look and feel apart from our other national and international USGBC events.

For example, we included color swatches to direct the look and feel, as well as guidance about which logo lockups are appropriate for web and print use. There is a section that suggests photography—this is meant to be general support, so community staff know what to look for from their photo banks or stock resources.

USGBC community event branding guides

Another element we like to focus on is social media graphics. Since these events are high-profile for our communities, we want them to be able to promote the events on social media, when appropriate. We usually generate a handful of graphics and guidance about which platforms to share on. We also provide some presentation slide templates and examples. Given that each event will always have presentations, we want to equip the community with all the tools they will need to create a cohesive event.

While each community event has its own style guide, we designed these as a cohesive trio of suggestions to ensure these events felt connected.

Learn more about how we brand USGBC events