Friday, May 16, 2014

The Story Behind the Logo

Story by Julia Forneris:
A good logo will not simply grab a person’s attention – though it should do that as well – it visually represents the essence of the organization. Almost two decades ago, Amy Barzach worked to infuse meaning into the star-and-rainbow logo, designed by Amy Schwartz Charlson of Chicago, the niece of West Hartford's Joyce Mandell.

According to Amy, founder of the first playground and Jonathan’s mother, rainbows took on a special meaning after her son passed away:
 “After Jonathan died, we immediately got pregnant without trying. Alyssa was born just before what would have been the first anniversary of Jonathan's death. My parents were driving to Connecticut from Florida. When they called the hospital to check in, they were told that a girl had just been born. Just then, a full rainbow appeared over I-95. This is what inspired the rainbow in the original sign.”
The three people in the original logo represent a little boy in a wheelchair (Jonathan and all children with disabilities), a little girl (Jonathan's sister, Alyssa, and all children), and a grandfather with a cane (Stanley Wiesen, one of the first volunteers for the original Jonathan's Dream and all adults).

Amy Schwartz Charlson notes:
I was approached by Amy Jaffe Barzach, who had recently lost her son to an unimaginable disease and wanted to memorialize him in an impactful, generous way. A playground for people of all ages and more importantly, all abilities (Amy's exact words, I recall), would be designed and built by an amazing crew of professionals and volunteers, and an identity was needed for it. The identity, focusing primarily on a logo bearing the playground's name, needed to illustrate just how inclusive this special place would be. The creative process included concept brainstorms between Amy, her core working team and me, the hiring of an illustrator, and the drawing and designing of several iterations. I tweaked the typography (it needed to be friendly and energetic-looking), finessed the illustration that was done by Linda Bleck (the figures' postures and attitudes needed to be vibrant and expressive), and finalized what was ultimately built into a colorful, welcoming sign for the playground's entrance. The logo was the result of an exiting collaboration which I thoroughly enjoyed professionally. More importantly, though, the project taught me about resilience and selflessness--modeled by the brainchild of it all, Amy Jaffe Barzach. 

Although the original playground has been dismantled, the rainbow logo remains intact. While reimagining the playground, the team reflected on the possibility of reworking the logo. Scott Orsey – part of the “Dream Team” leading the effort – said, “we felt that it was important that the logo be contemporized to reflect today's vision of accessibility.  The refreshed logo will be with Jonathan's Dream Reimagined for the next twenty years and beyond.” 

The revitalization of the images associated with Jonathan’s Dream Reimagined doesn’t simply change the look of the logo; it breathes new life into the project while honoring the original vision.

Robin Towle-Fecso, designer and partner at Jumpstart: Design, Development & Brand, volunteered her time and creative energy to renew the brand, while striving to respect the history of the original inspiration. In the end, the updated look pays tribute to the mission of Jonathan’s Dream Reimagined. All the original elements are there. But this time, the colors on the rainbow are a little brighter, and there’s a little extra polish to the star to make it shine.