Visual Language
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Visual language is the union of word and image, of memorable graphic design and good writing. Headed by designer and writer Ellen Shapiro, Visual Language LLC develops meaningful marketing communications solutions for nonprofits and corporate clients in a range of businesses and industries. We are unique among design firms because, to us, the words are as important as the images.

Every project is a collaboration between the creative team and the client. Your success story. Let us help you tell it.

read more › Conference speaker in the U.S. and abroad; juror, design competitions across North America. Adjunct professor, Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, the School of Visual Arts, and Purchase College, SUNY. Author, three books and hundreds of magazine articles and posts on design practice, design education, firms, personalities, events, issues, and cultural trends around the world. I love what I do, which is combining words and pictures to tell stories. These stories raise money for nonprofits, sell products and ideas, and launch new endeavors.

read more › Brand identity for Cerecor, Inc., Baltimore-based company founded at Johns Hopkins University dedicated to developing neuroscience drugs that improve brain function and mood. We begin each engagement by carefully defining the "design brief" - the criteria, deliverables, and desired results - with the client. Their only request was that the symbol in some way resembled or derived from the letter 'C.' Typically, we will present three options, beginning with a concept that might be an unexpected reach for the client.

read more › Based in Yonkers, NY, ContraFect is developing new approaches to destroying drug-resistant pathogens that cause hospital infections and disease epidemics. The symbol we developed is has layered meanings: a globe, a petri dish with disappearing pathogens, and an abstract 'C.' The website design opened with an animation: the pathogens are wiped out while the text explains the company's mission. On the office entrance wall, painted 'ContraFect Blue, the effect is made dimensional with a 3-D logo in brushed copper.

read more › Renzo Piano donated the design. Dedicated donors began providing funds to build a pediatric surgical hospital in Uganda, a country where only 5 percent of children have access to medical care. Mr. Piano, after seeing our prototype, provided his sketch of the hospital as well as a more finished drawing and an elevation, which were used on the invitation, flyers, email blasts and postcards. The client provided black-and-white photographsthat capture the needs of sick children and the dedication of doctors working in less-than-ideal conditions.

read more › This biotech startup is entering into virtual entrepreneurial partnerships with medical schools and hospitals to develop new, less toxic approaches to cancer treatment. The word Sapience means thoughtfulness and wisdom, and we aimed to create a quiet yet dynamic identity that stands for scientific creativity, innovation and healing. The brand identity incorporates novel elements-including the hint of a silhouette of a hopeful patient between the 's' and the 't' in the circle - created in both dimensional and flat versions.

read more › Leason Ellis, the leading IP law firm in Westchester County, New York, came to us with two beloved visual identifiers: a tree with a hole on the right side from which an apple has dropped to the ground, and a "monster" illustration by Stefan G. Bucher. The first order of business was to replace and strengthen the dated typography with a bold, contemporary typographic logotype. We also softened the green and remodeled the apple, giving it a more recognizable shape. The partners defined the firm as dynamic, forward looking, experienced, focused, savvy, market-oriented, thoughtful, practical, fun, and approachable leaders.

read more › Without changing the client's logo, we gave the company-specialists in financing income-producing properties-a bold, distinctive brand identity with the use of strong colors, clear typography, and solid black rectangles surrounding the photographs. The first step was reproportioning all the elements in their deal sheets and ads to take the best advantage of the space to highlight attributes of the transaction. The capabilites brochure tells the Goldman story using the client's own photographs of buildings they financed-in innovative, filmstrip-like configurations.

read more › We've developed targeted promotions that helped American Express communicate its "value story" to Cardmembers across the country. An offer they can't refuse: Attendees at Grammy(R) Award festivities get complementary desserts at their favorite Manhattan restaurants (when they pay with The Card, of course). Still-life photos by Peggy Barnett. This co-op campaign, with display advertising and direct mail components, ran in cities all across America. Illustration by Terry Allen. Our marketing pieces achieved record success in teliing the American Express Value Story and signing up new dining, lodging, and retail establishments.

read more › We brightened up a neighborhood institution, Sunnyside Federal Savings on Irvington's Main Street, with this sunny "fractal, " a geometric form made of many parts, like the community of customers who bank at Sunnyside. Bank here with us! Banners featuring photos of local friends and neighbors hang in the windows on Irvington's Main Street. The website features a changing, seasonal display of photographs of iconic and historic sites in New York's Rivertowns, including the Tappan Zee Bridge. Welcome Kit: Brochures demonstrate how Sunnyside can meet the needs of business and personal banking customers.

read more › A dedicated registered dietitian and nutritionist, the client, Jenna Saidel Lebowich, teaches culinary nutrition in her home kitchen and on site at corporations and community organizations. Her company's previous identifier was a photograph of three colorful bell peppers. Our goal was to continue that color scheme in a delicious new identity. We commissioned illustrator Marcie Chambers Cuff to draw a whisk, carrot, spoon, pencil, and asparagus stalk in her lovely cross-hatch, pen-and-ink style.

read more › Tourbie is a social network designed to connect young visitors to unfamiliar cities with hip, knowledgeable local guides who can offer a range of intriguing travel experiences. To help Tourbie achieve its mission of creating a global travel network that promotes collaboration and sharing of information peer-to-peer, Visual Language worked with the founders to develop a suite of distinctive image characteristics. To create a brand that would resonate with Tourbie's target audience, we proposed identity options based on concepts suggested by participants in an informal market research group at General Assembly: 'magic carpet, ' 'quick as a bunny, ' 'guide dog, ' 'newbie, ' 'T for transit (and Tourbie)' and 'friendly script, like handwriting.'

read more › We met a three-fold challenge from Conde Nast: to promote the licensing of images in The New Yorker's Cartoon Bank as illustrations; market New Yorker custom products; and sell framed New Yorker prints as wall decor. Why give an ordinary gift when you can commission a witty custom product illustrated with specially selected New Yorker cartoons? Media kit and sales promotions demonstrate the unique value of licensing the more than 90,000 cartoons and 4,000 covers in The New Yorker's Cartoon Bank as illustrations for everything from newsletters to websites and PowerPoint presentations.

read more › Formerly Community Markets, this company founded by a husband-and-wife team of "locavores, " runs 20 farmers markets that bring the freshest seasonal local produce and foods to New York City and Westchester and Rockland Counties. The client chose the name "Down to Earth" and commissioned us to create a fresher, friendlier update of their existing carrot logo. A consistent campaign: Small-space and click-through ads run in local papers and magazines and on various listings websites. Are your customers your best advertising vehicles?

read more › AJR, a pluralistic seminary in Yonkers, NY, eschews divisions and labels to train rabbis, cantors, and communal leaders to serve all branches of Judaism. The colors in the woven-star symbol are the blue, crimson and purple of the Israelites' Biblical desert sanctuary. The logo is often accompanied by the tagline we developed: "Weaving Together the Strands ofJudaism." The logo can be used in various configurations, adapting to available space - for example, to the limited space in this recruiting ad campaign.

read more › Campaign that helps parents and teachers in the nation's most disadvantaged school districts learn how to recognize learning disabilities in young children and get access to testing and remediation. On behalf of the Dyslexia Association, we won a Sappi "Ideas That Matter" grant to write, design and produce materials that were distributed to the U.S. school districts with the lowest reading schools. The process began with a logo refresh, creating the campaign theme, and developing the color palette and typographic style.

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