AMSG partnered with T Square Design Studio to guide us through the discovery process that would eventually lead us to the new brand, logo, tagline, and website. We sat down with the Creative Director, Abby Tovell, to learn a bit more about the company.
How did you start your company?
In 2006, my husband and I were both graphic designers working independently as freelancers in London. My focus was on interactive design and his was on exhibit and museum graphic design. We would consult each other but it never occurred to us to work as a team. Once I got pregnant with our daughter, we decided to hire a bookkeeper to help us out and he wondered why we hadn’t formed a company together. It seemed like a good idea and thus our company was born (as well as our daughter) and it turned out our combined talents were a really good fit for a lot of companies.
Tell us about the many different industries you work in/for?
We are based in the Berkshires, in western Massachusetts, which has a large number of historical and cultural organizations and so we provide design services to many nonprofits, such as The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home; Millay Arts, one of the longest-running artist residencies in the world; and This is My Brave, which uses performing arts to end stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction. But we also have clients all over the East Coast ranging from a local garden center to law firms to Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). We’ll design pretty much anything for anyone as long as we feel we’re a good fit! We love to figure out what is at the heart of an organization and reflect that in their brand and graphic materials.
Tell us your background. How/Why did you go into this field?
I always loved doing art and as a child would say I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I ended up receiving a more general liberal arts education, but then my first job out of college as a receptionist, my manager told me about a graphic design Masters program at Pratt institute. I got in and loved every minute of it. I was also lucky that I attended right as computers were entering the field, so I still learned how to do design tasks manually, for example to draw a typeface and do marker comps (sketches for design ideas).
What is the most important thing to remember when rebranding?
The goal of rebranding is to ensure that the values and messaging of the organization are coming through visually in a way that connects with their audience. So it’s a combination of figuring out what’s at the core of the brand: in the case of AMSG it was the passion everyone felt for their work environment and for their work, as well as their high standards. So the rebranding aim was to convey the technical expertise there with a friendly, modern and professional look that reflects the importance of relationships, connections as well as integrity. It might feel jarring at first, but if you examine the new look through that lens it should make a lot of sense.
How did you like working on the AMSG project/What did you like about working with AMSG/What makes AMSG special/different from other clients you’ve worked with?
This project was like a puzzle for us, which we love – how to take a fairly abstract concept like “government contracting” and then translate that in a visual way. The passion, warmth and humor of CEO Jim O’Farrell was really infectious and that gave us a big piece of the puzzle: to try to bring some of that personal, warm touch to the website, while keeping a very professional vibe. We all looked forward the weekly team meetings which were super productive and always a laugh!
How do you feel about learning about government contracting??
We went in with very little understanding of what AMSG does—the website was very dense and hard to understand for a graphic designer! So hearing about the amazing range of projects and ways in which AMSG supports the federal government, and actually touches people’s lives, was super interesting.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Graphic design, branding and web design really align with how I think. Each project starts with fact finding and research and I always get ideas and inspiration from that process. It’s then exciting for me to play with ideas and refine them until we have something that really works. It’s also incredibly satisfying to craft materials that feel consistent and more in keeping with the real messaging of the organization.
Tell us something fun about yourself and/or family.
I lived in London for 10 years, and have two teenage kids. We all love to travel, cook, go to museums and hiking.