Updated: May 17, 2021
For every one young adult that joins the Catholic Church, many more leave due to the allure of our hedonistic culture and issues within the Church itself. This trend is incredibly troubling as leaders of the church retire or pass away. It seems like the community is burning at both ends. Who will be left to care for our beloved church in 20 years? Who will sit on Stewardship councils? Who’s going to make the usher schedule every weekend?
Fortunately, there are people who have heard these startling statistics and have decided to take action. This issue was discussed among church leaders, funding was pursued and generously acquired, and a team was assembled. In 2020, a group called the Center for Evangelization and Discipleship (CEND) was formed. CEND provides assistance to leaders in parishes and beyond who create Catholic communities for people in their 20s and 30s. They apply current best practices in marketing and technology already being used in the secular world. This is all what the church desperately needs.
I am one of those go-getters myself; I run a parish-level young adult group on my own and I run marketing for a regional young adult group. Through being a young adult leader in the metro, I got connected with CEND early in their formation process. Just like any other new organization, they were in need of a logo and they approached me to help them with it. Just another reason to be networking all the time!
A few caveats with this project. It’s important to note I only did their logomark. All other visual designs, such as fonts, colors, layouts, photography choices, brand guide, even the web design, was and is still out of my control.
Why didn’t I provide the rest of the identity system, you ask? Well, I know the true value of my services. Start-ups generally don’t have a huge budget, so CEND couldn’t afford the full package and they wanted to respect the value of my work. Also, as a recent start-up myself, I have to choose my pro-bono/reduced rate work carefully. However, we both knew the long term benefits of this small project would be great for both of us. I would provide a high-quality product for a steal and they promised to refer/use me for future projects. This will pay off tremendously because I am highly confident they will grow into a national organization. Seriously, whenever I tell someone about CEND, that person is 200% onboard with the mission and ask me, “How can I get CEND to work with me?”
The task at hand was pretty straightforward: design a logo mark for CEND; that’s it. We accomplished this in about 4.5 weeks. Their target audience are those running young adult groups, devout Catholics, ages 20’s-50’s. People like priests, parish-level directors of religious education, parish administrators, youth directors, regular young adults like myself, etc.
The leaders of CEND had a few preferences prior to project begin. They had benefactors who had strong desires for a Celtic themed logo. Additionally, CEND rents their office space from a church named after St. Patrick, the pinnacle of Irish Catholicism. Speaking of Catholicism, they wanted their logo to obviously be Catholic. Lastly, CEND wanted a logo that would be a conversation starter and a tool to help them describe their mission.
With every project, I ask what words they want their target audience to use when describing the finished logo, AKA keywords. The leaders of CEND chose their keywords as: Catholic, evangelization, unity, discipleship, revolution, mission, support, newness, knowledge, celtic.
With all of the necessary research complete, I finally began sketching logos. I drew a little over 100 thumbnail sketches for this project. This included spending some time learning how to draw celtic knots. While I thought going the celtic knot route was cliche, I still explored the concept because that’s what the client wanted. If CEND was going to pick a celtic-esque logo, I was going to make it modern and unique. Learning how to draw knots gave me control over designing them.
I picked out the five best concepts, polished them a little, and presented them to the CEND leadership. We rounded it down to three. After pushing those concepts a little further, we reconvened and our final logo was chosen. Suffice it to say, they’re thrilled with the finished product. I like it too!
I consider this a strong example of customer service; even though I wasn’t a fan of the celtic route, I still pursued the concept to the best of my ability while also providing alternative options and expressing my recommendations. They were an awesome client by listening to me and allowing me to explore beyond what they thought they wanted. We put each others’ minds at ease. We couldn’t have had a more agreeable client/contractor relationship!
In many of my sketches, I attempted to use Eucharistic symbols based on the desire to make the logo look “Catholic.” That’s why there’s a ring/circle woven into the cross “threads.” In alternative sketches, I used negative space to insert the cross into the logo. I used my new celtic knot drawing skills to create this logo that emphasizes CEND’s desire to appear unifying and knowledgeable. I think I’ve gained a nice portfolio piece.
I’m very happy I took on this project even though I got paid at a fraction of my regular rate. Not only will they happily send me future work and clients, I found value in growing professional relationships too. The people at CEND are delightful people! That’s why I love being a freelancer. I get to have direct contact with clients instead of being handed projects by a creative director (not that working at an agency is bad!). This means I have the privilege of meeting many awesome people, people who are influencers in the Church. It gets me fired up!
What do you think? What are your critiques? What would you have done differently?