Smile Team Logo & Core Identity

Case study: Smile Team logo design and core identity. Featured image.

Volunteer project for nonprofit Smile Team. Lara Lee retains copyright.


The Smile Team is a volunteer group composed of employees from National Trade Productions (NTP) and its in-house marketing agency CSG Creative all dedicated to promoting a fun, positive office culture. Whether by recognizing employee milestones like work anniversaries or birthdays, sponsoring holiday festivities, or inviting employees to simply take pause in the workday to get social with each other, Smile Team is a big part of the company culture.

Currently, Smile Team has no graphics of its own nor any sort of logo or other identifying marks. This makes it difficult for people to distinguish Smile Team events from those a sister group, the Culture Club, and results in a less professional appearance. Additionally, Smile Team members retired when they left NTP or CSG. Smile Team hopes to promote interest in the group, both to better engage existing members as well as grow in the future.

A team member of Smile Team expressed a desire to stand out better and look more professional while it’s conducting its operations in the office. An official logo design, core identity, and marketing kit for Smile Team will improve its public perception and facilitate both internal and external communications.

  • No existing logo; collateral is generic
  • Core identity fails to communicate the uniquely personable yet professional Smile Team brand
  • Inconsistent identity makes the Smile Team events more difficult to recognize and hinders newcomers from learning about the group
  • Primary form of communication (email) is unbranded


It all begins with the logo design, the primary identifying mark of Smile Team. A Smile Team member described their brand as “friendly” and “festive,” so the logo needed to be personable. Yet Smile Team is also an office event. The logo design also needed to be trim and tidy.

Furthermore, Smile Team’s core identity is fun and festive with its iconic artsy palette. Most importantly, since volunteers who may or may not have graphic design experience will handle Smile Team creative and marketing, the new core identity remains easy to execute using pre-built templates and a library of on-brand graphics.

Before & After


  • Logo design is unique and memorable
  • Single, uniting core identity: no longer branded to a single parent organization
  • Improved public recognition and cross-company camaraderie
  • Consistent, branded collateral across both print and digital media
  • Editable and infinitely scalable graphics for long-term durability
  • Email templates introduce new functionality and ability to reach more people
  • Smile Team emails saw an average open rate for Design & Development companies at 39.00%, with a click-through rate of 2.61%; the average open rate for Entertainment & Event companies at 21.21%, with a click-through rate of 2.33.% The latest email saw 61.1% open rate with 8.3% click rate! (The national average rates for these industries are 21.59% open rate and 2.51% click rate.)
Case study: Smile Team. Say hello to your new logo!
Smile Team logo design infographic explaining all the symbolism in their core identity.
Two varieties of branded business cards for Smile Team’s printed core identity..
Case study: Smile Team. Gift tag varieties spread out on a table.
Case study: Smile Team. Gift tag example.

Hand-drawn Typography

With a name like Smile Team, it felt obvious to embed a smiley face somewhere within the logo design. I experimented with loose, organic forms with shapes I hoped mimicked brushstroke typography. Smile Team is fun and hands-on, so the crafty, artistic aesthetic of a hand-lettered logomark seemed appropriate. I also experimented with various combinations of geometric shapes, but I ultimately decided these felt almost too tidy for Smile Team.

Case study: Smile Team. Initial logo design sketches.

MailChimp HTML Email Templates Extend the Core Identity

The Smile Team was the most excited when I unveiled their custom, responsive, mobile-friendly email templates. (For the record, I was told, their frenemy Culture Club does not have branded emails.) The templates are: Memo with Photo, Memo without Photo, Featured Event, Upcoming Events, and Newsletter. The variety gives Smile Team a lot of flexibility to advertise events and share news. Each template design is also compatible with MailChimp’s WYSIWYG editor so Smile Team members can create custom emails without any coding experience whatsoever. As a result, Smile Team’s core identity expanded into the digital realm with low-cost ease.

Screenshot. An email template design for Smile Team shown in MailChimp’s WYSIWYG editor.
Smile Team's hand-coded, responsive, and mobile-friendly email templates that are also MailChimp compatible! These extend the core identity to the web.

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Case study: Smile Team. Branded marketing collateral examples of their core identity as shown in an office work space.
For the Smile Team creative, Lara fueled her imagination by adding different perspectives into the mix and definitely took hold of her creative design knowledge to the next level! She saw the potential to be innovative for such a fun and smiley team. She definitely developed a creative that is refreshing to the eye and joyful to the spirit!
Marybel Sotomayor
Smile Team Volunteer