Client: Shengxiao "Sole" Yu
Role: Art Direction, Design, Strategy, Naming
Shengxiao "Sole" Yu is a 1.5 generation Chinese American social justice educator and the CEO of Nectar, a life-affirming social justice education business. Her offerings include workshops, group programs, talks, and professional development programs for employees of organizations. Sole's mission is to connect the person with the political and build a more interdependent future. Through her work, she provides her students with deep knowledge grounded in empathy and care. When she came to me with her vision of investing in her own business, it was only an idea, a strong intuitive feeling. Through brand strategy and art direction, I helped her manifest the brand name and visual identity.
Shengxiao "Sole" Yu
"Bianca presented different ideas through the naming process and had such strong framing for all these different concepts. So many of the early names we played with had to do with nature metaphors that helped ground my feelings into concrete words. Also, she did really cool wordplays. Bianca helped me realize I could translate my feelings into short letters, which were symbolic of much more significant things. I was super nervous (about naming and branding in general) before her presentation. But after that, I got a sense of like, 'okay, this is possible.'
Nectar is the sweet liquid produced by plants and flowers, but it's more than sweet; it contains rich nutrients such as vitamins, oils, and amino acids. Sweetness, like joy, beauty, pleasure, rest is not an extravagance; it is essential nourishment for living. In the arduous journey towards collective liberation, there needs to be collective rest (and sweetness). Plants and flowers also require the right conditions of soil, environment, sunlight, etc., to grow and thrive. Transformative justice principles ask profound questions of underlying conditions and work to transform the conditions to support our lives.
Nectar attracts birds, butterflies, bees, and other animals to the flower. The animals receive nutrients from the nectar while also cross-pollinating with other floral species. In this way, the nectar acts as a conduit for the larger interdependent, interconnected ecosystem.
The name's original roots stem from Greek Nektar, an ancient Indo-European compound of nek- "death" + tar- "overcoming." Nectar means "overcoming death." For BIPOC people to survive and thrive under conditions of oppression is to overcome death. Our lives are living proof.
In Greek mythology, nectar is the life-giving drink of the gods. Greek mythology portrayed the gods in human form, with human emotions and superhuman powers. The gods' drink of choice was nectar because it was life-giving. Our life-giving drink is ancestral wisdom and social justice education. Collective liberation requires us to learn, unlearn, grow, question, and turn inwards for deep self-reflection. Our individual journey of healing is vital to our ability to contribute to social justice movements. Collectively, we pave the path towards liberation, and we become different people along the way. We get to create our liberatory future and live into it.
Logo and Logotype
To transition the world we live in today to a more liberated, interdependent world, it takes radical imagination, self-reflection, education, and community care. We need to acknowledge how we are interconnected with each other, mother Earth, and ancestral wisdom to move forward.
The logotype is a union of inspiration drawn from Greek capitals and Renaissance scripts. The base structure is grounded in the stems' consistent bold weight, while some edges are rounded. This contrast is an intentional balance between soft and structured. The subtly curved flourishes found in the 'n' and 'r' evoke plant leaves sprouting.
In the logo, the leaves represent mother Earth and an open book (knowledge, wisdom, and education). The blossoming imagery holds multiple meanings: first, you see the flickering flame, which means energy and life source. Then you see the two encapsulated figures, representing caring for our inner child, letting our ancestors guide the way, and allowing our higher selves to flourish. They're both turned towards moving forward. Finally, the highlighted dot at the tip of the logo represents the sun; it empowers life to thrive and gives us strength while working together towards a path of collective liberation.
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