Case Study: Maverick Unbranded Blackletter Design

Thumbnail image for Maverick Unbranded  Blackletter Design case study by Jake Rainis

Maverick Unbranded is a well-established lifestyle apparel company based out of Las Vegas owned by John Wood. As a renowned MMA fighter and owner of the Syndicate MMA gym, Wood had the vision to start a company with a clean and bold aesthetic that blended MMA culture tastefully with the skate and street cultures.

Typically, when designing for a client’s brand, the outcome is the result of objective design decisions. These decisions are not made in favor of the client because as a professional, I don’t design for my clients — I design for their audiences.

But designing for boutique clothing companies brings about some unique aspects of the client process. Not only does the design need to appeal to the client’s target audience, it also has to reflect the idea of the brand’s visionary.

Project Demands

Clothing companies often have unique variations in their brand recognition. Doing this affords them the ability to offer variety in their different lines. MU now primarily uses the script M, but they also wanted a variation of the M that is more rigid and iconic. This M would be more likely to appear in context of other design elements.

Ideas and Exploration

It made the most sense for the M to be more-or-less symmetrical. Fortunately, this comes natural with the letter M.

Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot
Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot
Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot
Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot

During the sketching phase, I tried out every single idea that popped into my head. I often go for quantity over quality as this allows me to really exhaust myself of experimentation.

Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot

I tried everything from classic slab serifs to blackletter to abstract geometric shapes.

The blackletter was the clear winner. It’s “tough” gothic look was very complimentary to the ideas and aesthetics behind the MU brand.

Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot
Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot

Blackletter happens to be one of my favorite styles of lettering, so really diving into this one was a blast. I researched gothic, blackletter, fraktur, bastarda, and textura scripts from the past 4 centuries to help inspire my sketches.

Execution and Refinement

Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot

I took my sketch to Illustrator and began the vectorization process. This one came along pretty quickly. Blackletter follows a very rigid set of rules that made matching line widths and angles straight-forward.

Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot

I ended up with 4 variations on the M, each with a different ornamental treatment. The “diamond” points on the outer stems gave the design more balance. The horizontal bars in between the stems of the M were nice, but they muddied up the legibility of the M — particularly when the M was shrunk down.

The Final Product

Maverick Unbranded blackletter design process shot