The Spinsters of San Francisco, a women’s social & philanthropic organization founded in 1929, hadn’t undergone a single rebrand since its inception. I was tasked with reimagining their new brand and site.
Timeline: 2 months
Role: Brand designer
The Spinsters of San Francisco (SOSF) is a social and philanthropic organization of young professional unmarried women unique to the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 1929, they’ve created a strong network of women who make a positive impact in the community through volunteering and fundraising events.
When I began doing design work for the Spinsters of San Francisco, there weren’t any EPS or vector files of their brand assets. Logos were low in resolution, hard to track down, and given the complexity of the mark, didn’t scale particularly well across different mediums. I knew going in that we needed to update both the organization’s brand values and branding to create a new logotype and logo mark that was truly representative of the current organization and could scale across all types of design collateral.
Before mocking up anything, I first needed to establish the cohorts I’d be designing for:
Every year, the Spinsters recruit a new class of women to the organization. It was really important to appeal to these prospective members
On the flip side, this organization had been around since 1929. They relied heavily on alumni contributions and participation, so I didn’t want to isolate older classes or make the rebrand feel like an extraneous departure
Partners were a third critical group. Volunteering was an essential aspect of the organization, and the Spinsters partnered with a new charity or non-profit organization every year
Lastly, this new branding would need to appeal to potential donors. If we were going to raise money for a charity partner, we’d need to continue to encourage donations
After we felt comfortable with the cohorts, I moved on to brand principles. The goal was to articulate what made The Spinsters of San Francisco unique and drive visual continuity throughout future brand experiences. They wanted to both build recognition and position themselves as a timeless organization for women in the bay area. The design committee sent out a survey to leadership to better understand existing perceptions around the brand and ultimately landed on three defining characteristics. I created mood boards that emphasized each trait, pulling lots of inspiration from the bay area itself:
As women, we empower each other. As philanthropists, we inspire others to help make change. In everything we do, we aim to support one another.
What is “empowering” design?
Spinsters design aesthetic should be motivating. We are active and moving, and the work should reflect our strong and ambitious lifestyles.
Every year, the Spinsters welcome a new group of girls to the organization. The process of becoming a member is exciting and engaging. We strive to find women from all different backgrounds with different experiences to join us.
What is “inclusive” design?
It’s welcoming. You get the sense that there are unique and warm women behind it. It doesn’t feel exclusive or cold, but friendly and warm.
The Spinsters organization has been around since 1929. There are deep roots and tradition, and we recognize all of the powerful ladies that have come before us.
What is “timeless” design?
Classic and elegant, the design should reflect quality and refinement (while still being approachable). It’s consistently thoughtful and cohesive, with a close attention to detail.
The original mark was very formal and ornate. I wanted to modernize it, without losing the critical aspects of it. There were three concepts that stood out.
Beautiful: keeping some sense of the floral/decorative pattern
Ties: the concept of women bonding and coming together
S: a literal representation of the name
To help guide an objective framework for assessing and critiquing identity options, I encouraged the Spinsters board to think of each brand value as a scale. Where do we want to fall? What do we want to emphasize? Where do we sacrifice in some areas but gain in others? I pitched three concepts that attempted to push the boundaries of each brand value both in concept and in color scheme. I also scored them using the same scale, 1-10 for each brand value.
The winning concept emphasized the timeless brand value, with a hidden detail in that the flourishes were no longer purely decorate, but comprised of a woman’s silhouette.
Today, the new branding is used across social media, event invitations and programs, physical banners and backdrops, the new website and beyond. As the Branding Committee member, I’ve been able to push the limits around where this branding can go, and I’m hopeful it will carry them forward far into the future.