What goes into making a logo?
It all started with a contest.
Darien real estate agent Sarah Lexow Keena, the town’s 2020 Bicentennial Committee’s Youth Liaison, organized a design logo contest in October of 2018. The contest was open to every high school student in town.
Just a few months later, three rising seniors — Kelly Niederreither, Will Henry Harmon, and Charlie Callery — created a logo that will be used to celebrate the town’s 200th anniversary in 2020.
The logo is a dark blue Darien town map with the number “200” inside it in gold. It has a light blue and gold ribbon coming out of both sides. Underneath is “1820-2020.” The town was established in 1820.
The logo is now owned by the town and was designed for the town’s use. It will appear on all official town 2020 correspondence and its official merchandise.
It will also be offered to any town non-profit organization that’s holding a special celebration to mark the bicentennial, and to official sponsors of the town’s 2020 celebrations.
The only guidelines for the logo, according to Lexow Keena, was that it needed to say Darien 2020 on it. Otherwise, it was completely left open to the students’ imagination and creative inspiration.
A group effort
In response to the contest, Lexow Keena received logo designs from three students. When the teens first submitted their logos, “each one looked very different from the next,” said Lexow Keena, who is also the education coordinator at the Darien Historical Society.
So, she pitched the idea to them to work together as a group.
“I decided that I wasn’t comfortable choosing one of the three and I gave them the option of working together so they can all get the benefit of it,” Lexow Keena said.
“They were eagerly and excited about teaming up to create the logo,” she said.
Markers and milkshakes
Kelly, Will, and Charlie met with Lexow Keena in a room at the Darien Library a handful of times to work on the logo.
The first meeting was an introduction and discussion. In later meetings, they collaborated and brainstormed ideas.
“The third meeting is when I put milkshakes on the table, along with a pile of colored pencils, markers and white paper — And that’s when the first designs for the logo were born,” Lexow Keena said.
While creating the logo, the students took a lot of inspiration from other state bicentennial logos, according to Will.
On Google Images, they were especially interested in the logos of Ohio, Indiana and Alabama — and took some elements from each of them when creating Darien’s logo.
“We decided we wanted to incorporate the ribbon that Ohio’s logo had,” Charlie said.
In regard to which colors to use, Kelly said she wanted to incorporate blue and white for the Darien town colors
“We were debating over adding red, but we saw that New Canaan’s and Greenwich’s colors are red,” Kelly said.
When adding gold, “it was troubling at first, since we weren’t since how well it would show up,” Kelly said.
“Will was on the computer looking at state designs. Charlie was looking at the colors, and Kelly was sketching it out,” Lexow Keena said.
It took six or seven drafts before the logo was created.
“Even with the final product, we had three different color combinations to choose from,” Will said.
Lexow Keena scanned the final creation and sent the design to graphic designer West Bielstein, a Tennessee resident and 2014 graduate of Darien High School. He took the students’ raw design and turned it into the final product.
The teens are currently working with Lexow Keena on merchandising items for the logo and will be ready to unveil them in the fall.
The logo may be appearing on Darien High School T-shirts and hats.
There has been a discussion in town of putting the logo on the helmets of various high school sports’ teams, according to Lexow Keena.
“We are also hoping the logo will also be made into a flag that will align every street lamppost in town for the year 2020,” Lexow Keena said.
The students are considering creating a 2020 club at Darien High School in the fall. The club would have speakers who would give history lessons about the town.
The three students said they became much closer as a result of their shared experience working on the logo. “Going into it, none of us really knew how big it would be. It blew our expectations,” Kelly said.
“We all got to know each other better than we did before,” Charlie said. “We all enjoyed collaborating together.”