Yordan Zhechev, Tribal Worldwide: We Bulgarians Have Potential but Need Optimism

You are the main person behind the creation of the new visual identity of America for Bulgaria Foundation. What does the tagline ‘American optimism meets Bulgarian potential’ stand for?

– I am just one of the people involved in the project. Behind it is also the whole team of Tribal Worldwide Sofia that spent the past five months sampling, editing, erasing and starting from the beginning over and over again. Once more, we discovered that if you want to have a simple and straightforward message, you have a long way to go.

The tagline ‘American optimism meets Bulgarian potential’ means what it says – there is no subtext, no hidden meaning and no casual puns. I think that we Bulgarians have potential, but we often don’t believe in ourselves. This is why the American belief that if you put in the effort you will succeed, can be of great help to us. In other words – the two parts come together to make a strong whole.

At Tribal, you say that you wouldn’t work for someone you don’t believe in. How did America for Bulgaria Foundation win you as a client?

– With the fact that they have a clear and firm position and are ready to stand behind it. Moreover, the evidence for the Foundation’s outstanding work over the years is all around us and has inspired our team repeatedly – from One Design Week and A to Jazz, and Muzeiko, to the Basilica in Plovdiv – there is no team member of the agency that is not impressed by the work of ABF.

What purpose does the new logo, tagline, graphic and web design serve a non-governmental organization?

– None, if not followed consistently and purposefully. The clean and well-designed identity is only the start. What builds the brand is the daily upholding of your principles and having a consistent, unambiguous message across all channels – from a brochure to a Facebook post to an advertisement. And yes, even the smallest non-governmental organization has to think of itself as a brand. In the long run, this would pay off greatly.

What challenges did you encounter during the development of the new identity of America for Bulgaria Foundation and how did you overcome them?

The challenges came mainly from that fact that if you want to say something eloquently enough, clearly and precisely, you have to deprive yourself from saying many other things and concentrate on one single thing. In this case, after some research, we decided that we are seeking a strong and stylish symbol, which speaks loud and proud to the involvement of the United States.

What was your inspiration for the new logo?

– In English there is the wonderful word – ‘unapologetic’ which, I’m afraid, doesn’t have an exact translation in Bulgarian. Well, we wanted the Foundation’s identity to be unapologetic, and I think we achieved it.

The new logo, like the old one, is a flag – what is the idea behind keeping this detail. Don’t most organizations completely change their logo when rebranding?

– You don’t always have to wipe out everything and start from scratch. A big part of our job is to analyze the context of the task before we decide on our client’s communication issue and if we find something worth keeping, we always prefer to keep it.

If you look closely, in addition to the flag, we have also kept the square shape, as well as the stripes. The more significant part of our decision was to reduce the amount of information and the level of unnecessary details – as you can see, we have removed references to the Foundation in two languages, we now work with one font, not two, and we don’t use any thin lines that are difficult to see, but instead rely on bright, dense features framing the square.

With your TEDxBG presentation in 2012, you looked for the rational reasons to stay in Bulgaria. What advice would you give today to Bulgarians with potential that have stayed?

– To be more optimistic. There are many reasons for that.

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