In 1927, Susanna Bixby Bryant established a botanic garden to preserve California’s native plants and habitats which were being threatened by development. Now, nearly 100 years later, the goals of the California Botanic Garden have only grown. The state’s largest native plant garden is tasked with promoting botany, conservation, and horticulture statewide to inspire, inform, and educate the public about California’s native flora.

The Challenge:

Reviving a wilted brand

With nearly 100 years of educational and botanical preservation success, the Botanic Garden has been a vital part of changing the conversation about native plants in the Golden State. They began working with us while undergoing a name change. Along with the new name, they sought brighter, more welcoming, more updated brand visuals. We wanted to honor their heritage while bringing new life to a storied brand. To do so, we believed this logo upgrade needed to be inspired by plants and colors that represented California’s rich history.

The Solution:

Blending flora and freshness

As part of its mission, California Botanic Garden helps connect Californians to their natural environment on a deeper level. That dedication to purpose helped guide our objective.

To help redefine their brand, we felt the Botanic Garden needed to showcase an engaging blend of vibrant California flora with a sense of freshness and modernity. We wanted to move away from staid, traditional images and fonts and towards a visual that felt light and enjoyable, just the way it feels to stroll their 86-acre property.

At the same time, however, we knew we couldn’t stray far from the plant, tree, or flower that would represent their institution. Luckily, since California has more than 6,000 taxa of native plants, we had plenty of options. In consultation with their horticulturists, we selected the state’s native Matilija poppy and its elegant yet playful design.

Once these seeds were planted, we were off and running.

We wanted to move away from staid, traditional images and fonts and towards a visual that felt light and enjoyable, just the way it feels to stroll their 86-acre property.

The Creative: From seed to sketch to store

Once our team settled on a native California plant, we started sketching. And then we sketched some more. This iterative design process was invaluable and put us on the path toward clarity. We experimented with alternative flowers, fonts, and shapes throughout this phase before choosing a winner.

Logo Development

We spilled everything onto the page, sketching a variety of floral concepts with accompanying text placements. Our goal was to develop a visual with an immediate and clear brand representation, even in black and white. When a logo works in a sketch, the design will only improve when we add color.

Logo Concepts

Moving beyond our sketchbook, we created several logo versions that featured a balance of complementary font styles, colors, sizes, and treatments. Most designs allowed for a healthy amount of white space, giving more heft to the plant visual. Our goal here was to showcase modern, understated elegance.

Logo Variations

When we received approval for the concept and fonts—with a resounding yes for the fun take on a script font—we presented several logo options that used distinctive California poppy colors. We kept the theme consistent, but tweaked each just slightly until the winner rose above the rest.

Logo Placements

To really bring the logo home, we created several merchandise mockups. We designed shirts, tote bags, banners, and more, which allowed California Botanic Garden to visualize how their new identity would function. Today, the California Botanic Garden uses their new visual brand across their digital and physical properties, including their gift shop. Flora and freshness, delivered.