The making of the brand

BY NIKKI ADEBIYI, FOUNDER @ BOUNCE BLACK

As I’m getting my feet wet professionally in the digital design world, I wanted to share a bit about the branding journey for anyone who appreciates that sort of stuff! 

If you’re curious, allow me to walk you through how the project name came to be and the thought process behind each element of the brand visuals.

Say my name, say my name

While the concept for Bounce Black was years in the making, the name came to me quite suddenly in December 2019. It was a real epiphany moment. I had just quit my first permanent job and I was on a creative high during a mini sabbatical to replenish my health while preparing to pivot into tech. 

I remember being on my bed just chillin’ (aside: the beauty of building your own platform is not having anyone tell you how to write!), though I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking about. Probably reflecting about my journey and how challenging it was, wishing I could do something to ensure no one has to struggle the way I did. 

And then it came: “Bounce Black”. So quickly, so clearly. I remember rushing to write it down instantly, and began looking to make sure it was a viable brand name. 

It was!

I have my abiding love for poetry and literature to thank for the way my subconsciousness came through with the wordplay. 

If I had to put deliberate effort into coming up with a name, it would have to be catchy and memorable. “Bounce Black” felt perfect because it captured everything I wanted to communicate about my journey and the way I wanted to help others. 

My next task was to come up with a logo to make it all feel real, but first I had to figure out a colour scheme.

Feeling blue

Blue is traditionally considered the colour of low mood and depression. So, I wanted to incorporate that somehow, given the centrality of mental health to the brand. But I also wanted to reflect the hopeful side of mental health, so I ran some ideas by friends and a small collective I created. (The CHZL Collective is another mini project of mine for creatives seeking to give/receive peer feedback – find us @wearechzl on IG/Twitter). 

The outcome was a light blue, just like my journey from low mood to high hopes.

Bounce Black’s blue signifies hope in dark places; brighter tomorrows in spite of stormy todays; new beginnings, happier endings, and everything in-between.

Grey matters

Grey is the colour of nuance and tension. 

It’s not black and it’s not white, unlike the patterns of thought that can characterise mental health disorders. Like many others, I used to think in extremes. I thought I had to have all the answers. I was rigid and highly risk averse in my thinking and approach to life. I craved clear-cut answers for everything. 

Part of my recovery journey has been about cultivating healthier thinking habits and growing in my ability to tolerate discomfort and lingering questions. It’s involved allowing myself to welcome “I don’t know” into my vocabulary. I’ve had to unlearn my perfectionism and fixed mindset of seeing abilities or opportunities as zero-sum, and develop instead a growth mindset that welcomes the possibility of failure as part of the learning process. 

I know I’ve said it a few times already, but Bounce Black was years in the making. Though I wish I got here sooner, the journey was just that: a journey. And it isn’t over, this is just the next mile of it. And I think grey is the best colour to represent that. 

Bounce Black’s grey signifies process, being in the middle of things, and perseverance amidst uncertain and unclear paths.

Brown skin, brown face

Mental health is a global conversation that’s getting louder by the day. And I’m glad. We need to do more than talk about it, but I’m glad we are. 

I know that mental health crises and trauma are neither inherent nor exclusive to Black people. Still, I wanted to center our experiences because the stigmas and challenges we face in Black and Afro-Caribbean communities are unique. I wanted to build a platform that would give me the freedom to speak on and speak to the nuances that race and ethnicity add to the mental health conversation. 

While Bounce Black welcomes allies of all hues who want to work with us to fulfil our mission, we will not be shy about how our skin and cultures interact with and alter our experiences with mental health.

Bounce Black’s brown signifies the skin that wears and shapes the experience, and the cultures that influence how we tell the tales. 

Full circle 

As I brainstormed things that reminded me of bouncing, I realised that circles are central to many of them: balls, springs, trampolines, elastic bands, etc. 

I wanted a way to incorporate as many of these mental associations as possible while maintaining a clean, minimalist aesthetic. So, I went with the essence of all those images: a plain circle. I felt this was the best way to capture the themes of grit and fortitude. 

I also thought about the sociolinguistic aspect of circles. A sense of belonging is crucial to flourishing and I don’t think it’s possible to feel psychologically safe without it. Even as an introvert, I am much better off when I am connected to others in healthy bonds upheld by mutual respect and boundaries.

The circle being emboldened represents the courage it takes to stay another day and the audacity to hope that things will eventually improve. 

Bounce Black’s circle signifies resilience and community, the power of togetherness for flourishing, and the beauty of collaboration.

All about angles

Perhaps the least apparent symbolism in the logo is the triangular shaping of the brand name. That was intentional for a couple of reasons. I wanted the words to mimic bouncing in some way, but I also wanted to incorporate the media notion of “pressing play”. 

Living with mental health disorders and trauma often makes people feel stuck. It feels like your life is on pause while others go on about you and move forward with theirs. So, I wanted to reinforce the sense of hope that I’d like others to share: that it’s possible to un-pause your life. It’s possible to press play.

Bounce Black’s angles signifies the possibility of a meaningful life after and beyond mental illness, and the reality of post-traumatic growth and the beauty therein.

Period.

To state the obvious, in grammar, full stops or periods are symbols that let you know when a thought has come to its close. 

In pop culture, the sentiment is the same, and if the word is used explicitly, then you know that the user has said all that has to be said on the matter.

My use of a period in the logo represents my belief that recovery is possible for everyone, period. It may take time and it will certainly look different for everyone, but it’s possible. No question, no hesitation. That’s all there is to it.

Bounce Black’s full stop signifies a commitment to promoting flourishing, having the audacity to hope for recovery, and an unwavering belief that no one is beyond help, period.

Read about @NikkiBiyi’s reasoning behind @iBounceBlack’s branding in her blog post here:


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