In order to begin the rebranding process, Thought Matter began by having intimate conversations with all stakeholders of the foundation. The design team listened to stories and experienced the power of the performances – albeit through Zoom, they mention – in order to paint a clearer picture of the future of the foundation.
Unsurprisingly, music played a key role in the creation process. Listening to music together and sharing musical experiences, the team were able to catalyse conversations around using the body as an instrument, understanding how powerful posture and breathing can be when projecting one’s voice. Through this process, Thought Matter’s design team were able to mirror a “visual representation of joy” by using an exclamation point. This symbol went on to become an “anchor” for the rebrand.
Elsewhere, the symbol of an arched window represents the church’s influence in the city’s borough. “Harlem is my neighbourhood,” says Ben Greengrass, creative director at Thought Matter, “so I know firsthand that when you walk around on a Sunday morning, all you’ll hear are sounds of celebration coming from behind those windows. These windows provide a view into the history, the advancement, and the joy in Mama’s house.” These elements, along with bold colours and the use of photography, became powerful graphic devices for the company to use across signage, the website, show posters and other branding materials.
Managing director Jessie McGuire at the brand design studio claims that “Through design, symbolism and language,” the design team at Thought Matter hopes it’s able to introduce audiences to aspects of Mama Foundation they may have not otherwise been familiar with – “their Harlem legacy, commitment to preserving and presenting Black musical art-forms, goal to catalyse collective healing and aim to create space for communal belonging. The end result is a brand that is an authentic representation of the Mama Foundation and its singular spirit.”