Q&A with Tim Flaman, Principal at Western Sky Creative
Western Sky Creative based in Calgary, Alberta, recently guided the CAOEC through its rebrand, by creating a vibrant logo that highlights the association’s enhanced industry service segments while preserving its storied, and well-respected past. Learn more about the creative process in our Q&A with Tim Flaman, Principal at Western Sky Creative.
Q: How long has Western Sky Creative been around?
A: Western Sky Creative has been in business since 2002. The company was originally formed by Rob Edge who previously worked at Suncor for around 20 years. With Rob having a lot of knowledge of oilsands and the energy industry in general, Western Sky had instant experience and credibility in the sector. Rob was able to teach a lot of the younger designers industry-specific skills like mapping and creating geological cross-section illustrations.
In 2014, Rob was looking to slow down and I was looking for a change, so I purchased Western Sky October 1, 2014. I think oil was at about $95 that day. Fast forward a few months and, like everyone else, we were forced to survive. As a result, we now have a broader mix of industries we work with in addition to our deep roots in the energy sector.
In late 2017, I merged Western Sky Creative with Carbon Graphics Group. We now have the ability for an integrated approach to the design and print manufacturing process when it makes sense. A lot of things are going electronic these days, but you might be surprised about how much stuff still needs to be printed. It’s been a great marriage as we still operate independently but being part of a larger entity provides additional resources and scale when you need it.
Q: How did you get your start in Calgary?
A: I got my start in Calgary about 9 months before I was born. I’m one of the lucky ones to be able to say I was born and raised in Calgary. I’ve seen a lot of changes and been through a few energy industry cycles! It’s been a grind for everyone the past 5 years, but I wouldn’t want to be grinding it out anywhere else.
Q: What is your favourite part of your job?
A: Without a doubt, it’s helping people with their business challenges. We help companies with their brand and visual communications but, before any of the art stuff happens, I get to dive into their business challenges to help clients really uncover what they are trying to accomplish. I get to learn more about their business and I am able to lend a lot of my business experience to them as part of the process. Once we get to the root of it, then I provide a creative brief to the design team to get the pretty stuff done.
Q: Was it difficult to design a logo for an organization like the CAOEC with a strong brand history and iconic logo in the oil patch?
A: Logo design can be challenging for organizations who have maintained their same brand identity over such a long time. While we have a structured process in our approach to design, the real challenge can be resistance by the organization and a strong desire to “hold onto the past”.
CAOEC was motivated to evolve the name and brand based on several drivers: attract new members from a broader industry segment, show that the organization is forward thinking and modern. Nobody was interested in discarding 70 years of rich history so it was important to maintain some elements of the past with an updated look and feel.
It was important to adapt and enhance certain visual components like the familiar shield which signifies strength, and the “EST 1949” banner. The strategy was also to evolve the identity into the future in order help to attract new market segments as a modern and forward-thinking association that demonstrates operational excellence.
The updated style and contemporary aesthetics represent a highly technical and advanced organization. The resulting logo and brand are a true representation of collaborative thinking, cooperative ideas, and a unique yet familiar design that will maintain a lasting impact in the sector.
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for the logo?
A: It was important to adapt certain visual components that were familiar to the sector, but also provide something unique and fresh. A lot of the inspiration came from the history of the organization, and a desire to honour and maintain its iconic brand in the oil patch. There were several different styles and directions at the onset of the design stage, but ultimately the notable and memorable “shield” style of the original brand stood out amongst some of the more contemporary and varied approaches to the new logo.
There were several exciting and modern incorporations brought into the process; like the progressive typography and recreated shield, which together form a sharp and distinct appearance. A refined and unique maple leaf/lightning bolt was also introduced to signify and strengthen the “Canadian” and “energy” parts of the full association name. This new branding element also helped to round out the innovative new colour palette that represents a broader segment of service companies in the energy industry.
Q: What services do you offer and how can you help organizations in the energy sector?
A: For companies that are looking for a brand refresh or start-ups, we provide full branding services which can include a new logo and other visual elements that are then to be applied to a new or existing website, stationery, signage, marketing materials, and trade show displays.
For companies with established brands, we work within their existing brand standards to deliver all of the products mentioned above along with ESG reports, stakeholder relations materials, human resource documents, corporate event materials, and investor relations packages.
Of course, being part of Carbon Graphics Group, when we are designing anything that needs to be printed, it is really valuable having the knowledge we have about the print manufacturing process whether it’s an important health and safety document or large trade show display. Being so closely connected to manufacturing benefits the client by us being able to quarterback the whole process.
Learn more about Western Sky Creative by visiting their website: westernskycreative.com.