Good design is universal.
As Catholics, we believe that beauty isn’t simply a matter of how you grew up, what age group you fit into, and what language you speak. There is a subjective experience that you bring to the table every time you see or hear art or music, but there is something objective to art.
That is the standpoint from which I want to approach Diego Diaz’ branding project for the Augustinian Recollects. It is a significant work. It is deeply meaningful in its symbolism, very attractive even on first glance, and easily recognizable in all its forms. Any American high school kid would scroll up on Instagram, give it a double tap and call it a day. But Diego Diaz didn’t design this for American kids. He designed it for an order of Augustinians in Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe that our culture hugely influences the way we look at art and this is especially true of branding. Just look at the way that people experience soda differently when they are shown it’s a coke. That said, design principles are part of the practical reality of composition. Certain color combinations look better. Whether you’re from Nigeria or from Scandinavia, the color wheel still applies. Contrast matters to anyone that can see, taste, or hear or feel. The Golden Ratio works every time whether you intend to use it or just happen to use it because it’s a part of nature. There are some objective rules that govern what we find beautiful and what we find inauthentic and ugly. I think Diego, along with many other designers in the community from South America show just how universal excellence in design really is.
Diego’s site says that he designed this identity to represent St. Augustine's charism, “the search for truth, service to the community, and the love for God without conditions. Colors and aesthetics are linked to the cultural identity that's manifested in each flag of the province's nations.” In addition, he writes about how the search for truth and the church mission part was associated with exploration, which leads them to draw inspiration from maps and compasses.
Here are the criteria by which I judge a logo’s success or failure:
It needs to reflect your organization’s "why" in a single, simple form.
It must be distinguishable in positive and negative. This necessitates the use of negative space.
It must be able to be represented in black and white.
It must be distinguishable at the size of a penny, and still look amazing blown up on a billboard.
It must last for at least 10 years, but probably more.
I think it’s safe to say Diego achieves each of these marks. Everything about this brand conveys energy, exploration, and friendliness while saying at the same time “take me seriously, I’m legit.” It speaks to the core values of the religious order and incarnates their "why" effectively. It has great contrast so it looks good in positive and negative and works in black and white. It’s simple and balanced, so it preserves its effectiveness no matter what size you view it at. It’s elegant and fashionable, not simply trendy, so it'll last for many years with a minimal need to update.
Keep rocking and rolling, Diego. You make us all proud to be Catholic by doing great design, brother. Keep it up!
By Marcellino D'Ambrosio
CoFounder of Catholic Creatives
CoFounder of Sherwood Fellows