The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) came to us in 2016 to develop a new brand identity and website that would convey professionalism, authority, and commitment to growth and meeting the evolving needs of their membership. So far, so good. But there was a catch: ACCJC didn’t want any stock photography on their website, and especially not photographs of students.

They thought that stock photography would make their website look generic, and with good reason. Stock photography is created to be accessible above all else, aimed at small to medium size businesses without large marketing budgets. That’s what gives it that “stock” look.

So here we were, faced with an exciting branding design challenge: how were we to create a text-heavy website and make it convey all the things that ACCJC wanted it to convey, all without using any photography?

If there’s anything Alfred Hitchcock has taught us, it’s that constraints lead to creative solutions. We suggested to ACCJC that a series of abstract brand illustrations would serve as a compelling part of their brand identity and lend a unique touch of personality and tone to their website. We worked together to select blue, red, and gold to extend into the brand’s color palette, and our graphic designer got to work. It wasn’t easy: the art had to be abstract without being polarizing, professional without being boring, and above all else, beautiful.

In the end, we had created three 12” x 12” digital abstract illustrations designed to be cropped and implemented in any direction or shape. This allowed for a variety of fresh layouts across many categories of collateral, from business cards to pamphlets to internal documents–and, of course, the website.

ACCJC brought Two Hats a problem that countless brands face: an outdated identity and web presence that fails to truly express who they are or where they’re headed. They also brought us a design challenge that we were excited and happy to face because it gave us a chance not only to showcase our graphic skills but also our ability to come up with creative solutions to design problems.