NACD ChemEdge 2021 Visual Identity Concepts

Work for hire for the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) by Lara Lee while employed at CSG Creative with permission for Lara Lee to display for self-promotion.

Background

The National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) represents nearly 450 member and affiliate companies that occupy more than 85% of the national chemical distribution industry. Each year, NACD launches ChemEdge, a large conference and trade show for chemical distribution operations personnel. ChemEdge offers valuable education, industry connections, and one-on-one meetings with suppliers. 

ChemEdge 2021’s conference brand identity required exploration into the details of chemical operations and facility management. CSG Creative’s Art Director, Courtney Lopes, invited myself and a colleague to create a strong visual identity to present to the client.

Summarily, the director tasked us each to design two concepts per marketing tagline under consideration:

  • Operational Edge
  • Driving Operations Forward

I presented four concepts. Then, the Art Director advanced one of each visual identity to the client presentation. The client ultimately chose to move forward with a visual identity my colleague designed. Nevertheless, my visual identity concepts dived into the details of chemical distribution with fresh creative looks.

My Role

Digital Designer

Art Direction

Courtney Lopes

Agency

CSG Creative

My Initial Visual Identity Concepts

I challenged myself with a diversity of creative styles in these brand identity core concepts.

2021 graphic design trends already inspired many core concepts. For example, trends included: aegean teal and Gen Z yellow, flat design, and especially 3D illustration. I worked in drop shadows, isometric perspective, perspective distortion, and cut-outs using my favorite Adobe program, Illustrator.

In the end, these four core concepts comprised my top initial brand identities:

“Driving Operations Forward”—
My Top Visual Identity Concept

The Art Director selected this one from my visual identities to represent the marketing tagline Driving Operations Forward. She was inspired by the isometric illustration and driving analogies that the client favors.

We went through four rounds of revisions tweaking size and placement of operations personnel and San Antonio, TX skyline. Yet, at one point, we abandoned the original San Antonio vector stock photo in favor of my custom, hand-drawn illustration. (I do love drawing in Adobe Illustrator!)

The advantage of my custom illustration was that the small lines retained clarity at these small sizes. Furthermore, these lines would print better with the new, thicker strokes. 

Although the visual identity is simple, I embedded lots of symbols:

  • Map marker leads to NACD
  • Iconic San Antonio architecture highlights event destination
  • Transport vehicles illustrate the chemical logistics this event supports
  • Diverse front-line workers and management are represented
  • Road leads upward and rightward into an optimistic future
  • Two people look at the ChemEdge headline, leading viewers to follow their gaze

1st Draft

Initial visual identity concept idea #1 with the "Driving Operations Forward" marketing tagline.

Revisions

"Driving Operations Forward" revisions over time [animated GIF].
Final visual identity for "Driving Operations Forward."
Final branding concepts and responsive designs for the "Driving Operations Forward" event theme.

“Operational Edge”—
My Top Visual Identity Concept

Likewise, the Art Director selected this visual identity from my concepts to represent the marketing tagline Operational Edge. The cut-out effect is striking, and the tagline dominates the layout with large typography. We went through five rounds of revisions tweaking photos, textures, and 3D characters. The director specifically requested a particular event photo of two attendees shaking hands positioned coming out of the D. Since the quality of the photos wasn’t ideal, this edit required extensive Photoshopping to deliver.

Although this visual identity is minimalist in comparison to the other concepts, I still embedded lots of symbols here, too:

  • Cut-out effect emphasizes the “cutting edge” opportunities ChemEdge offers— also a pun on the tagline word “Edge”
  • Gen Z yellow alludes to the yellow hard hats operations personnel wear, and further conveys warmth and optimism
  • Directional texture points upward to a better future (1st draft); the revised directional texture points toward the event
  • Revised texture creates a cross-hatching that mimics single, double, and dashed road lines, alluding to industry logistics
  • Photos inside letters allude to other transportation methods
  • Workers point optimistically ahead (1st draft); revised people cut-out spotlight actual attendees to highlight making connections at ChemEdge

1st Draft

And the last initial branding concept idea #4 with the "Operational Edge" marketing tagline.

Revisions

"Operational Edge" revisions over time [animated GIF].
Final visual identity for "Operational Edge."
Final branding concepts and responsive designs for the "Operational Edge" event theme.

In the End

Ultimately, the client didn’t choose either of my designs for their conference visual identity. So my visions here remain conceptual only. My colleagues just had too many great options! I’m excited to execute the chosen core creative across all their digital media nevertheless.