Tammy Lenski logo redesign

Tammy Lenski logo design

Tammy Lenski LLC is a business that deals with conflict resolution in the workplace, and Dr Lenski approached me to redesign the logo and stationery.

The company was previously called ‘Lenski Strategic LLC’, and the old logo was only available in .jpg and .pdf format which wasn’t ideal for reproduction. EPS (encapsulated postscript) is the ideal file format for scaling to any size without losing detail.

Lenski Strategic logo design

Tammy wanted a design that was simple and clean, inspiring, and inviting.

Purple and green were already set, and Tammy told me of her love for origami cranes. I was referred to the touching tale of Sadako Sasaki. Here’s a brief overview.

The story of Sadako Sasaki

Sadako Sasaki (January 7, 1943 – October 25, 1955) was a Japanese girl who lived near Misasa Bridge in Hiroshima, Japan. Sadako was a victim of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and was only two years old on August 6, 1945. At the time of the explosion she was at home, about 1 mile from ground zero. Ten years later she was diagnosed with leukemia, which her mother called “an atom bomb disease.”

In November 1954, lumps developed on her neck and behind her ears. In January 1955, purple spots started to form on her legs. On February 18, 1955 she was diagnosed with leukemia. She was hospitalized on February 21, 1955 and given, at the most, a year to live.

Sadako and the paper cranes

origami paper cranes

On August 3, 1955, Sadako saw a gift of 1,000 origami paper cranes that were donated to the hospital from the people of Nagoya as a “Get Well” gift. Inspired by the cranes, she started folding them herself, spurred on by the Japanese saying that one who folded 1,000 cranes was granted a wish. A popular version of the story is that she fell short of her goal of folding 1,000 cranes, having folded only 644 before her death, and that her friends completed the 1,000 and buried them all with her. This comes from the book Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes. An exhibit which appeared in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum stated that by the end of August, 1995, Sadako had achieved her goal and continued to fold.

She had plenty of free time during her days in the hospital to fold the cranes, but lacked paper. She would use medicine wrappings and whatever else she could scrounge up. This included going to other patients’ rooms to ask to use the paper from their get-well presents.

During her time in hospital her condition progressively worsened. Around mid-October her left leg became swollen and turned purple. After her family urged her to eat something, Sadako requested tea on rice and remarked “It’s good.” Those were her last words. With her family around her, Sadako died on the morning of October 25, 1955.

It was clear that the origami crane would act as an ideal symbol for Tammy’s line of work (conflict resolution), and Tammy mentioned this in one of her emails:

“Of course I’m already imagining all the things I could do with real origami cranes as handouts at workshops, etc, but am trying to rein in my playful mind until I know whether the crane as part of the logo really works!”

So I researched the crane with the aim of adapting the image into flat artwork that would work effectively across a range of media.

origami swans

A few layout options:

Tammy Lenski logo design options

But with these ideas the symbol could all too easily be interpreted as a crown rather than an origami crane, especially with the mark placed above the company name. Having the ‘LLC’ characters on their own line added more complication than was necessary.

I experimented with the tracking between the Futura Thin characters.

Tammy Lenski logo tracking

Number 5 was the standard tracking, so each previous option was an adjustment in Adobe Illustrator.

In addition to the logo, I created a business card and letterhead.

Tammy Lenski business card design

“I prefer the portrait orientation and like your idea of business name only on one side and contact on the purple reverse.”

Tammy proposed making her card more unique by adding a die-cut, an idea that would allow for the crane symbol to be ‘stamped’ out of the card. This adds expense to the printing, but it’s a great way to set yourself apart, particularly with print which is a tangible promotional tool that once given, cannot be changed (unlike online promotions).

Tammy Lenski business card design

Number 5 was considered the most suitable:

“The card looks perfect! I love it. Go ahead and send me the files and I’ll pursue the die-cut questions with my printer. Thanks so much for your work on this, David. Best business card I’ve ever had…and one I’m finally satisfied with.”

The die-cut questions that needed answering revolved around the following image:

Tammy Lenski business card die cut

Whether Tammy’s chosen business card printer could work with the segmented die-cut, at the size shown in the card design above, would need clarified. It’s possible that the size is too small. I went ahead and created a mock-up of how the card will look when printed.

Tammy Lenski business card design

Dr Tammy Lenski“David Airey’s work impressed me on multiple levels. He had an uncanny sense for what I was pondering but hadn’t yet said aloud, really listened effectively to what I was seeking, brought forward beautiful design ideas for my consideration, and did it all in a timely manner and with excellent communication skills. How could so many terrific characteristics and abilities find their way into one graphic designer? I recommend David unequivocally and would hire him again in a heartbeat.”

Dr Tammy Lenski
Tammy Lenski LLC

Thank you, Tammy. It was a pleasure working with you.

55 responses

  1. Once again David, brilliant work. I don’t think Ill ever get tired of thanking you for posting such insightful information about the process of designing an identity. As I keep saying to Jacob Cass, you two have become great inspiration for me to pursue my career in design.

  2. The logo is definitely simple, clean and inspiring, you covered that very well.
    I would be interested in how you made the mockup in Photoshop, if you know of a tutorial that could do that, that would be great. It would have been handy when I did a business card logo for a beauty company… (can see in my portfolio) It was a die cut of a butterfly much alike the one you have there of the swan. It really gives a better idea of how it will look with a die cut.
    Regarding the crown mention you were totally right about that, glad you saw it. I like that final logo and the front of the business card however I was thinking the back of the purple card, the details may have looked better centered.
    I can remember reading that 1000 Cranes story back in Primary school as well, a touching story.
    Anyway another great job David, I always like reading about your work. Keep it up.

  3. i didn’t like the logo as much on first glances but it grew on me after i looked at it for a while. i do like the story as it makes the logo more significant and story worthy. personally, i would have taken the one with the crane on the top (without the black rounded background).

    love the cutout but am curious how much it would cost, if any regular printer would even do it.

    dual sided cards cut down on functionality i believe. i’m always scared that the person i give it to will *miss* some information by not looking on the back or in another scenario, get mad as he/ she has to turn over to see the rest of the info especially when it is put in a card folder.

    so basically there is a fine line between getting more design savvy vs. convenience and it all depends on what you are trying to project , the purpose of the business card (and what clientele you are targeting).

    love the stationery letterhead!

  4. David, it was fun to read this post and consider the process we shared from where you sit. I’d just like to echo what I said in the testimonial: your work is just terrific and your interpersonal skills were such a bonus. I’ve had so many folks write to me about the new logo and how much it conveys to them…just the messages I’d want to them to get. I thank you!

  5. Great work, D, and fantastic case study!

    This looked like a really really fun project. The resulting images are very smooth and distinct, but still have that playfulness about them. Would love to hear an update later on how the die-cut worked out.

    I could see your origami crane using some embossing too. Too bad those things are often cost-prohibitive.

    Thanks, David!

  6. It’s great to hear your logo design process while having a flashback of one of the famous origami crane history in the late ’45s. One thing that I want to emphasize from that logo is that you give darker color in some area in the crane, preserving the details of folded paper. Excellent job.

  7. I like the ‘die cut’ idea and the whole set is very nice indeed.

    I personally am more of a fan of the landscape business card as I think it tends to give more room to design in.

  8. Beautiful! I love the crane and the diecut business card! The slight transparency is really, nice, too, and it’s great that you made it work as a one color job as well. As always, it’s awesome to walk through the design process with you, David. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I love to hear the stories behind identity creation – good entry David. I like the transparency used on the final logo. As you say, it makes the crane more obvious and without getting complicated. I’m not sure about the green, but it was already in place so that’s by the by.
    Jacob – centred type? Urgh. I avoid that if possible – the card is great as is.

  10. jesusOmar, it’s great that you’re finding inspiration to pursue your own design career. All the very best with it.

    Jacob, I’ll create a draft article now, so I don’t forget. As for your suggestion to centre the text, I’m with Steve on that one, and normally avoid using centre-alignment.

    Tammy, that’s superb that you’re receiving the messages you wanted. Thanks for letting me know, and I hope this design serves you well for many years to come.

    Foo, you’d need to check with your printer. I have the opposite thought about using both sides of the business card. It’s like a blank canvas, and your opportunity to make an impression, so why limit yourself to just one side? If Tammy hands her card to a potential client with the white side facing upwards, the receiver is automatically going to turn it over to find her contact details. Thanks for your compliment on the stationery.

    Didik, I’m glad you picked up on the different tones. I felt the idea would be stronger if the ‘folded paper’ look could be preserved, and by splitting the crane into sections.

    Charlie, this was a great project mainly because Tammy was such a great client. I’ll update the post when I find out more on the die-cut.

    Jermayn, if pushed, I also prefer to design on landscape cards, although here in the UK, landscape is more common than portrait, so the chosen orientation could help set you apart a little more.

    Lauren, you’re very welcome, as always, and thanks for the kind compliment. It’s an aim with each project to have it work in black only, as well as colour.

    Steve, glad you like the card, and I agree about centred type.

  11. before I began reading the post, I thought that crane is created from a tangram puzzle :-)

    how often the background stories behind many logos are never heard… would be interesting to hear how some of the “big” logos were created. aren’t you thinking about running such posts?

  12. Die cut stationary is brilliant and this one works very well.

    Having the logo remain workable throughout reverse colors, black and white is one thing. Having it retain its prominence based solely on the outline when some of its inner details are lost is key. And again this one does well to my eye.

    Very appropriate considering the client’s business.

  13. Regan, glad you find it appropriate. I’m another fan of die-cuts, and had a few ideas about a similar route with the letterhead.

    David, I appreciate your thoughts, thank you.

  14. given the story behind the logo, it makes total sense, and is very inspiring and a pretty logo. even without knowing the story, the logo stands on its own.

    I’m a sucker for die cuts, and really dug the cards.

    One thing I’ll say, however, is that if you go and look at your portfolio, 7 out of the 9 logos there are the same format. Graphic treatment on left, text treatment on right. I’m not saying it’s bad, but I hope you’re not in a rut or feeling too safe with your logo designs. Regardless, if the client loves it, it works!

  15. Really enjoy your posts on logo design and process.
    As a designer myself, I find it interesting to read how others approach designing.
    I think you are really educating others on the process.

    I love the logo and it certainly sounds like your client does too.

  16. mad,

    You make a good point about similarity amongst my portfolio inclusions. I certainly don’t feel like I’m in a rut, going for ‘safe’ options, and on occasion I present some very different ideas (could make a good blog article).

    I’ve mixed my portfolio entries up a little, and hopefully that will draw more attention to my print work (which I previously placed below all the logo ideas).


    Thank you, and best of luck with Alpha Blog Designs. It was only a matter of time!


    It’s always great when a client is happy with the results. Good of you to comment.

  17. As always David, I love to read of the work you’re doing. This however, has to be one of my favourites. Very original, and the end product just works.

    Nice one my friend.

  18. I love watching your logo design process. For someone as new as I am to this whole “design” thing, I always find these process explanations posts to be very insightful.
    Thanks for the detailed post and great job as always.

  19. Hi David

    Fantastic job. Just some very minor reservations on my part.
    At first glance I would be tempted to slightly tighten up the kerning between the “m” and “y” in ‘Tammy” and likewise for the “n” and “s” in Lenski. Naturally the other letters would have to compliment this movement.

    Of course you’re the only one that can determine how it flows together once you try it. It’s one of those tweak and see things.

    The other thing I may have been tempted to do is include a white thin outline (.25 stroke) to the middle wing to (a) give it subtle depth and (b) allow for linear flow.
    Again tweak and see. This may have actually caused it to lean towards the “crown” aspect which you needed to avoid…. again tweak and see

    Anyways great work as always!

  20. I think the logo is pretty cool, but the text and business card fall flat to me. Futura is one of my favorite fonts, but I think for this company, it should at least be capitalized, or a more business-like font.

    On the first business card designs, I had no idea what this company does. I would think it sells paper cranes, or helps dying children.

    In the final design, I like the die cut, but I’m not sure it needs to have the crane twice on the white side, the text is too close to the right edge. I can still only determine that she is a doctor, but no real clue as to what tammy lenski does.

  21. Hi David,

    I like the logo revamp alot….great improvement on what she had before.

    The die cut is a nice touch on the business card. Your graphic would look even better if you added the smallest shade of shadow to the cut area, so that it would look that much more realistic.

    How did you do that? Did you skew the shape of the logo onto the card, and then clone the wooden color and texture onto it to make it look at though there was really a cut out? I’ve done that once before when trying to convince a client to spend the extra money for a die cut card.

    I guess it’s material for a nice tutorial one day!! I might put one together as this is a cool little trick that some designers may not know how to do.

    Did she go with the die cut card or is she still thinkin about it?

  22. Hi Tammy,

    Nice to meet you and congrats on the new logo from David!

    Glad to hear you went with the die cut card! It can be tough to convince a client to put the extra budget out there to get it printed this way, but it really is worth it. It makes you much more memorable, and shows you take your business seriously as I’m sure you know.

    Looking forward to seeing the picture of the card!

    all the best

  23. Hi, Brian, good to meet you too.

    I have to admit a certain “gulp” when the printer told me the cost of the die cut (one-time cost, of course), but it lasted but a second because it felt like a worthwhile investment to fully honor David’s design and what I’m trying to accomplish with the card.


  24. Hey, just came across your blog and saw this. You’ve got some real skills there. It looks very neat and professional. Ill have to check out some of your other work.

  25. A great improvement from the old logo – very crisp and simple. It was also great to read about the development process. Do you write about all of your projects on your blog like this? Having this kind of insight into how you go about your work adds a lot of appeal to your services…thanks for the lesson.

  26. Jeremy,

    It’s great you find these posts of use. I’ll be coming up with more in the near future.


    Cheers for your thoughts on the design.


    Good point about the business card mock-up. I’ll return to it and add a little depth to the die-cut when I get a chance.


    If you have a look at my portfolio, you’ll notice I give more details about each project, and don’t simply show the final design. I find it gives potential clients a better appreciation of what I do for a living.

    In a bit of a rush, so excuse the quick response. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

  27. David, my mum used to say that the proof is in the pudding.

    This past weekend I put the card to first serious use when keynoting at a women’s conference. I gave out about 80 cards and the response was so uniform that I began to chuckle after a while: “Wow, great card!” “Oh what a beautiful card!” “Oooh, I love origami cranes.” “This card really backs up who you are.”

    I couldn’t possibly have asked for more. I wanted the “wow” factor, I wanted people to see the card as consistent with me and my brand. You really made those things happen.

    Thanks again,

  28. David,
    I’ve recently come across your blog and can’t tell you how inspiring you and your work have become for me. I’m a recent college graduate starting out doing marketing for a mid-sized business and your words are so encouraging. This logo design and branding is beautiful. Your focus on typography and research is a breath of fresh aire. Looking forward to seeing more of your work and learning more about this field that we seem to share the same passion for.


  29. For anyone interested in how Daivd mocked up the business card with the die cut, I just posted a video tutorial on it, hope you find it somewhat interesting and useful!!

  30. Hi David
    This is the first time I have seen your site and I was pleasantly surprised that you take the time to outline the design process for each project, at least those on the site. I am a freelance designer myself and am always looking for inspiration (aka, stuff I can copy), especially in areas I am not so strong, or don’t get as much work. That’s why your logo work is interesting to me. especially your process of getting to the desired result.

    The crane was a very nice place to go with your design. And I liked the die cut idea especially. On your sample, the one with the gold outlines and rust fill color, I wondered if the die cut could have been more distinctive as a crane (and not a crown) if it had been cut within those wide lines, making it a 3-hole cut — the head and neck, the wing and the tail — each its own hole in the card with the outline either faintly indicated or boldly — playing with it would determine the best idea there. Just an alternate idea.

    Thanx for sharing yourself and your work. It inspires me to act alike.

    Scott Boley / Hillsboro Oregon

  31. Scott,

    It’s great you find use in my logo design process posts. The die cut in Tammy’s cards was a great idea, one Tammy came up with, and I was very pleased to receive some samples in the post.

    Good luck with your own graphic design projects.

  32. David, are you even real? Maybe I am just too narrow minded or not creative enough but I think you are a genius at logo design. Showing off and explaining your logo design process is absolutely remarkable.
    I am trying to get more into logo design and reading your illustrations is teaching me a lot. Now I just have to realize it ;)

    Thank you very much for letting us partake in your work process.

  33. Great work.. I often see those who are graphic designers (me also); create their site in very neat format without using heavy colors, curve graphics etc. Even i like to create site with smooth and warm colors especially gray and white.
    But some times i feel that i am a graphic designer and i should use my skill designing my site very jazzy and neat then i confused. But when i saw your work and site, i am impressed.
    Could you please give your opinion on portfolio desinging?

  34. C o n g r a t u l a t i o n s ! ! !
    I really think you are doing a great job. Thanks for being a great professional willing to exchange your valuable knowledge with all of us.

    Regards from Barcelona :)
    I wish you all the luck = et desitjo molta sort (CATALAN)

  35. Hi David,

    Just thought I’d say that this is the first design process page that I’ve visited from your site (so far) and the work is sweet.

    Believe it or not, your card design makes me want to create a mini crane and insert into the die-cut.

    It also makes me want to travel to the US and meet Tammy Lenski personally.

    Kudos on the logo and card design!

  36. Hi David, I stumbled upon your site while looking for inspiration for a new logo identity. I keep coming back to your logos and the explanations of how you reached the final design. This is invaluable information for me and hopefully all the rookie and veteran designers out there. Thank you for revealing that aspect of your design process. Wonderful work on all of your logos. The crane story does make for a much more powerful image. If you look close enough at anyone’s company, you will see a story in their branding. You captured Tammy’s very well.

  37. I would personally not have gone for the die cut idea, as I thought the card looked great without it. And with a hole in your card, it’s bound to catch on things, get ripped, torn, and then it really will just look like a card with a hole in it when the shape has been damaged.

    It is a nice touch and a different design feature that not everyone opts for or even considers, but I prefare it without the die cut.

    Sorry! (But I DO love the design of the crane, clean and crisp)

  38. It was a pleasant surprise to chance upon your blog. I’ve just started out a small online shop and have always been bugged by the fact that I’ve not got a proper business card design & shop logo in place. I’m still in search of the perfect identity which represents me. So when I read your blog, it’s very interesting for me to see you develop these identities for individual or large organizations alike. I personally liked the clean & timeless designs which you do so well. And the layered effect on the crane appeals to me especially. It not only gives visual interest as a 2D design but comes across as strong yet gentle, which I believe conveys the message for Tammy’s business very well. Perfect execution! Love the whole design concept.

  39. Great, excellent work. A good source of information for my semester’s final investigation about case study in graphic design.

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