The letter “alpha” in the combined logo and free lines

8 min readApr 14, 2022

We created a new brand identity for the Academy of Art Therapy.

Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

The Academy of Art Therapy is an educational organization that teaches psychologists and creative professionals how to use creativity for therapeutic purposes.

Founded in 2018, Academy has gone through an important transformation from a simple online school to a state-licensed professional education institution. Courses have been updated, prices for services have increased.

The founders decided that it was time to reflect the changes in visual communication, to move away from the status of courses in order to further promote and scale the project. The previous corporate identity was inconsistent, there was no integrity in it. With the change of identity, the founders of the Academy wanted to attract a more modern audience and at the same time shake up the old one.

What was the challenge

The task was to develop a modern logo and a new guideline for:

● Instagram, because it is the main channel for communicating with the audience and attracting customers;

● presentations;

● certificates of study and diplomas.

In the future, the founders want to redesign the product pages on the website and classrooms.

Before we start working on concepts, we always conduct a detailed briefing and ask the client to formulate the main guidelines for corporate identity. In the case of the Academy of Art Therapy, it was important to convey the new status of the company — a specialized institution that combines fundamental knowledge, modern approaches and practice. The founders emphasized that the style had to reflect the creative specialization of the Academy, but without expression — for example, they did not want to use paint splatter as a decorative technique.

Step 1. Fixing key images in references

When we discussed how the logo should look like, the founders of the Academy gave us three directions:

— an illustrative sign, possibly in the format of a coat of arms;

— font logo;

— dynamic logo that can change.

It remained to find suitable directions and ideas that would convey the image of the “Academy”. In the references, we chose options where the logo sign has an associative symbol, a silhouette abbreviation, a variable background, and a font with narrow, tall, and selectively deformed letters.

References for the logo. Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

In the references for the identity, we started from one of the real classes at the Academy: students draw arbitrary lines of different colors in a circle, conveying their mood or feelings at a particular moment. In general, strokes are the first association that arises in connection with creativity. But the problem is that such a solution is hackneyed and typical. We were looking for examples of non-standard interpretation and realized that we were more suitable not for naturalistic strokes or strokes with the texture of paint or stylus, but for smooth and generalized lines.

Identity references. Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

Step 2. Concepts for the logo

We tried to reflect the new status of the “Academy”, its scientifically structured approach to teaching and its connection with creativity and art. We offered four variants of the logo, the client studied them at the same time.

The first concept is the coat of arms. This format of the logo most clearly reflects the idea of sustainability and tradition. In order to convey the scope of the client’s activity, we introduced still life elements: we depicted a jug, a pear, a vase and a flower. The client liked the idea.

Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

The second concept is volumetric silhouette letters “A” and “T”. This is an example of a dynamic logo in which you can change the fill image. At the same time, brand identification is preserved and the logo is always read as a compact whole. It seemed to the client that it looked like Soviet architecture — very monumental.

Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

The third concept is the letters “A” and “T” as a reference to art therapy and a pencil motif. In this version, we played with the “A” like a pencil point to convey an emphasis on creativity. At first, the clients liked the idea, but further in the process of thinking, they decided to move away from the reference to the word “art therapy”, and therefore from the use of two letters in the logo. We will tell about the reasons in the context of the following concept.

Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

The fourth concept is a combined logo with cursive letters “A” and “T”. Of all the options, customers liked this one more because it came out elegant, concise and modern. The founders tentatively chose it and took time to think it over. As a result, they formulated an important detail: their clients associate the project with the word “academy”, and the logo should focus on this.

Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

We began to develop the last concept, using only the letter “A”, and in the form of the Greek letter “alpha”. Many associations are associated with this symbol, but first of all — the ancient Greek concept of “academy”. Art, philosophy, culture and science of that era formed the basis of European civilization. And all these meanings are combined in the training courses and the mission of our client.

At the request of the client, we left the ability to change one element in the logo: each study group has its own chat, and it is convenient to differentiate them by color.

Logo with color coding. Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

Step 3. Branding elements

Colors. At first, we chose green: in the brief, the founders indicated it as one of the preferred ones, it is associated with health and development and attracts attention well. Then we realized that one color would quickly get boring, especially in Instagram posts. And then we added three more contrasting accent colors — yellow, red and purple. They are as “fresh” as the main one.

A wider palette allows not only to diversify the layouts for posts, but also to create different headings in the highlights.

Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco
Color coding for Instagram Highlights and Stories. Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

Fonts. The client had a wish to use free fonts. We chose Vela Sans, a neutral grotesque with plastic symbols as the main one — it is available in different styles, and it can be used both for display in headings and in typesetting blocks. The second font is handwritten Champignon, it imitates the movement of the pen, and you can use it to make accents.

We also provided an alternative font called Roboto. It is available on all operating systems, so Word documents with it will always display correctly.

Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

Stylized and sweeping brush strokes. We didn’t want to make an imitation that looked like a scan of a brush mark, so we decided to develop this motif by modernizing it and coming up with a more minimalistic presentation. In Adobe Illustrator, we’ve set up a brush tool with predetermined thicknesses in the folds, it can be applied to any drawn line.

Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

Partial or full use of paintings by artists to create thematic posts. They can be cut out of the background and applied with a filter to change the color to match the post with others.

Not every painting is free to use, even if its copyright has expired. The image must be marked Public Domain, which allows you to download, edit and distribute it for free. Such pictures can be found, for example, on

An example of using a picture on a product page. Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

Photos with a filter. When developing photo rules, we focused on the old Academy profile on Instagram: we scrolled through the feed and saw a photo with muted color and a clear compositional accent. This decision seemed to us successful, and on its basis we built the entire photo stylistics. A warm filter was made in Photoshop and Lightroom, it corrects the main light and color imperfections in the original photos.

Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

Step 4. Instagram grid layout

For the visual variety of the profile, we divided all posts into three types:

— Vector graphic with brand color backgrounds, stylized brush strokes and typography. In them, smooth and random lines fill the background of layouts, highlight headings, or create the illusion of volume by stepping on the text.

— Posts-images with works of art.

— Photos.

Posting is not limited by strict rules. But to make the profile look neat, we have formulated several key principles in the guideline:

● You can freely alternate between different types of posts, but it’s better to make them close in tone.

● After publication, light (colored) graphic posts cannot be crossed horizontally or vertically. With the dark ones, this is acceptable

Instagram grid layout example. Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

Result. New corporate identity appears on Instagram

The founders of the Academy approved the concept quite recently, in January 2022. They have already started using the new corporate identity on Instagram, as planned. The iconic version of the logo appeared in the profile icon, the lines on the backgrounds of corporate colors — in the highlights, and posts in the new style have already been published in the feed.

Instagram of the “Academy of Art Therapy”. Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

Other branded assets

Layout of the certificate of study. Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco
Image: the Academy of Art Therapy / design by maryco

The project was made by:

• Veronika Octyabr — art direction.

• Andrew Telminov — logo and design concept development.




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