This past October, with our noses to the grindstone, we passed over an incredible milestone for Incline Design Group (IDG)—we officially crossed the 5-year threshold. Though our business revolves around building marketing plans for our clients and creating content calendars that include important things like business anniversaries—things that tell the story of an organization and deepen its larger community relationships—we often find our own brand gets neglected in the process. It’s a classic example of, “Do as we say, not as we do.”

But it’s high time we took our own advice.

Incline Design Group Studio Door 2018

The core of what we do at IDG is branding and brand storytelling, and we felt this milestone was an appropriate time to rework our own brand identity. Creating a new identity is a serious project: it requires understanding the tone, the people, the mission, and the product, and processing those things into a cohesive visual representation. The discovery process for a project like this needs to be thorough and detailed, including information about the history of the organization and any stakeholders, while also keeping in mind the trajectory of the brand—where, and whom, you want to be in the future.

This is a process we never take lightly. When clients venture to take on a new brand identity or online presence, there is often a feeling of resistance—the stakes are high and it is of utmost importance to get it right. IDG’s rebranding process was no different; as much as we push other brands to stretch to their fullest potential, that same resistance and reluctance to risk putting forward anything less than perfect gave us our own share of sleepless nights.

2016 to 2020 IDG Brand Evolution

As a design and branding studio, our mark needs to be understated but professional and confident—a representation of who we are and how we work to communicate elegantly with our clients and their target audiences—with subtle colors and typography that is bold but not flashy. Over the last 5 years, our sketchbooks have filled up with countless ideas of what the updated logo mark should be, but it was in a flash—one of those times between late night and early morning—that the idea for this new identity system came about: it would be based on intersecting planes that moved like origami, rising and falling away from the viewer. It would be mechanical, but at the same time organic and call to mind the mountains we love to play in. It would be simple, but with every detail strongly considered.

This logo mark is referential to our undying love for the mountains, where we are lucky enough to live, work, and play. At the same time, it is technical, mechanical, and adaptable for a variety of nuanced treatments; it is just as much a folded or 3-dimensional planar shape as it is a large structure on the horizon. It sits comfortably on hardware, in a lab environment, on a tee shirt, or emblazoned across a Unimog. There is inherent motion in it, but it is solid and stable, without yelling or being overly complicated. The color palette is adaptable—from subtle tones of a mechanical future, to the flat, analagous colors you see across Europe in doorways, on café sugar packets, or on commercial trucks navigating impossibly small village roads.

IDG Logo Variants

A logo can’t be all things to all people, but we think this mark comes pretty close to conveying our target market: small businesses here in the Intermountain West, technical and scientific organizations around the world, the outdoor and cycling brands we love, and of course, all the optimists in nonprofits and NGO’s trying to make the world a better place. 

Incline Design Group | Remote Design Division

When you spend your days obsessing over trend forecasting, user interaction, pixel-based grids, and color forecasting, you can get pretty obsessive about design in general. Many graphic designers are also armchair photographers, architects, and industrial designers (if they don’t already professionally overlap) just because of their attention to detail and appreciation of thoughtful design. 

With that in mind, here is the first annual Incline Design Group Gear Guide: a few products that stand out to us for their intentional design, high quality, and potential to be the unexpected hit of the holidays. 

The ultimate barometer for this gift guide: Scott has either put these products through their paces, or wants one soooo bad.

Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle

The first time I saw this electric kettle it was love at first sight. The aesthetic of the kettle and countertop heating element is beautiful, and with the color and finish options they offer, these can cleanly fit into any kitchen. The functionality of this kettle is also beautifully thought out (I particularly love the 60-minute temperature hold, so if you get distracted flipping through Pantone swatches or watching a strategy video on YouTube, the water will still be hot when your Coffee Brain yells, Feed me!). Also be sure to peruse their site for equally well-designed tea kettles and their Monty Milk Art Cups.

Shop Fellow Products »

BioLite BaseLantern XL

Great for the campground or to have around the house in case the power goes out (or the kiddos want to have a dance party), this is one of those super geeky products that just makes you say yes so many times. This lantern is all LED based, so not only will the 12,000 mAh battery last you all weekend, its two USB outputs can also charge your phone if you’ve been staring at maps (or Instagram) around the picnic table for too long. With built-in Bluetooth, you can turn it on and off from the tent or the back of the truck too. So slick.

Shop BioLite BaseLantern XL »

Moment Lenses

This past summer I spent 13 days walking the John Muir Trail. One of the harder decisions to make was whether my ultralight pack could carry another camera or if I should just use the already excellent camera on my iPhone and increase the phone’s utility, adding photo duties to its mapping, journaling, and emergency communication roles. I was skeptical of what Moment’s lenses could add to the quality of my phone’s photos, but man, am I impressed. I carried the Wide 18mm Lens, the Tele 58mm Lens, and the Anamorphic Lens, and I loved how each of them added to the already-impressive image quality I got from my phone. I also have to say that the Photo Case (which is necessary to attach the lenses) is one of my favorite phone cases I’ve used.

Shop Moment »

WACACO Nanopresso

I am still so excited to get my hands on one of these (hint, hint, Santa). It has some stellar reviews from people who are way geekier about their coffee than I am—which is definitely saying something. This is a hand-pumped espresso maker that is compact and well designed to easily fit in your carry-on or in your camp kitchen for the road. With an optional Barista Kit, you can up the water and ‘spro capacity to pull double shots vs. the standard singles.

Shop Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker »

Mission Workshop Axis Hip Pack

I love Mission Workshop bags. They are simply some of the most robust and best-built (here in the States, no less) carriers-of-your-stuff around. You certainly pay for the quality—so prepare yourself. But, the Vandal I’ve bike commuted with full-time through several winters still looks brand new, as does the Hauser that has sailed at high speed down single track and landed between my body and bike and the rocky ground (more than a few times). I took the Axis Hip Pack to Alaska on a bikepacking trip two summers ago, and it lived in the elements for two weeks of mud and rain and kept the contents inside almost completely dry…and it too still looks like new. If you like quality, Mission Workshop is the best I’ve seen and the benchmark by which I measure all others.

Shop Mission Workshop »

Scott Reinhard State Elevation Maps

We can’t always sit behind computers bathed in the lifeless glow of the internets, and these maps are a fantastic reminder that there’s a big world outside the window. Scott Reinhard is a designer who makes several series of printed maps, but his State Elevations series is my favorite. The detail in these projections is incredible. This is such a great gift for your favorite explorer (or yourself), and I plan to have a couple of these on the studio wall in short order.

Find Your State of Bliss, and Hang It on the Wall »

DOMA Trading Croatian Gifts

There is something so great about supporting local artisans and craftspeople, particularly when those people are from somewhere that’s close to your heart. And gifts with a purpose behind them are good for everyone involved. DOMA Trading is a family company (full disclosure—this is my family!) that is hand-sourcing and importing products from villages in Croatia. These are the kind of products that, if you grew up in a Balkan family, will resonate with familiarity and happy memories of your Baba. These products are handmade, one of a kind, and sure to bring a big smile to your friends and family.

Shop DOMA Trading »

Patagonia Brodeo Beanie

When I find something I like, I buy a few and wear the same thing every day. There is a polo shirt I really love that I own five of. Same size, all black. They just fit. I have two of the same shorts, two of the same pants…and two Brodeo Beanies in different colors. This hat is warm, it looks good, and as with anything from Patagonia, you know they’re working hard to make it as sustainable as possible. Not to mention it will last just about forever (sidebar: I have a Patty wind shirt and baselayer that are 18 and 30 years old, respectively, and I still wear them). Their stuff may not be the cheapest, but I believe the price is more than fair for the quality.

Shop Patagonia Brodeo Beanie »

Snow Peak Titanium Fork & Spoon Set

In an age of growing concern about sustainability and the wake of trash we leave behind us, products like the Snow Peak Titanium Fork & Spoon Set are increasingly relevant. Not only is this a fantastic set of lightweight, non-bio-reactive, low-heat-conducting silverware for your backcountry® adventures, it is also an excellent piece of kit to keep in your office bag or EDC to reduce your reliance on plastic.

Shop Snow Peak Utensils »

Modernica Case Study Ceramics

Based in Los Angeles, Modernica is a small furniture shop making some beautiful products for your home. I fell in love with their Pearl Lamp a couple years ago, and I’ve been drooling over their ceramics ever since. While this style of pot sits squarely in the too cool for me genre of hipness (I know you’ve been seeing these everywhere this year)—these are the real deal. Classic and robust pots, with substantial wood stands.

Shop Modernica »

Crate&Barrel Melamine and Acrylic Dishes

I have a Pelican Case we call the Kitchen, that lives in the Land Cruiser. It has spices, utensils, a set of dishes, and cocktail and wine glasses. I regularly get comments from people I’m camping with, asking where the great camp dishes came from—and they’re always surprised the answer is Crate&Barrel. Their melamine plates and bowls are so tough, so nice looking (and there seem to be new colors a couple times a year), and so easy to clean, while also being reasonably inexpensive, you’ll wonder why you ever had a different camp plate. Crate&Barrel also has a fantastic selection of acrylic glasses in every form and fashion—so you can have a full bar stocked in your truck and even serve in the correct glassware without worrying about your buddy tripping over the campfire or the pups stepping in broken glass. These aren’t sexy, but they are surprisingly cool.

Shop Crate&Barrel Melamine Dishes »
Shop Crate&Barrel Acrylic Glasses »

Outdoor Research Sensor Gloves

Last but so far from least are OR Sensor Gloves, to keep your fingies warm while also letting you operate your touchscreen device. OR makes some of the best-fitting gloves, with box construction that keeps your hands dextrous and eliminates weird cold spots. The Gripper Sensor Gloves have been my go-to for the ice and negative temps of Utah winter, year-round bike commuting in the drowning wet of the PNW, trail running, backpacking, working on the truck, and drinking beers at friends’ cabins.

Shop Outdoor Research Sensor Gloves »

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I was recently thinking about family in Croatia and sifting through my photos from my last trip over there and found these great graphic design and type inspiration examples. For the most part, Croatia is a country that lives with a past and a history so deep, it’s hard for us (North Americans) to even begin to wrap our heads around (it’s not uncommon at all to see buildings that are 500—1500 years old, and still occupied). Most of the type and sign design I saw leaned heavily on this past, but there were some very nice more modern examples too. Seemed selfish to keep it to myself, so here ya’ go…

Design Inspiration—logo design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—environmental design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—logo design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—logo design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—graphic design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—environmental design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—graphic design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—graphic design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—graphic design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—graphic design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—identity design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—graphic design from Croatia

Design Inspiration—graphic design from Croatia