Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Monster's University & Minarets

One of the things I most appreciate about blogs is when the blogger pulls back the curtain and lets the readers in on their process. This post is my attempt to give you a peek at my redesign & brand identity process. 

So we are in the middle of a big blog party, and like I do before every party I host, I was running around til' the last minute trying to get everything in order. In this case, before launching the giveaway I did an overhaul of my site, installing new colors, a new logo, header, blog description, and more. 

Here is a look at the blog before:

I don't necessarily think it looked bad but it definitely didn't convey much about what Sketchy Ummah is. I knew that before I invited lots of folks to visit my little corner of the web I had some redecorating to do. I came up w. the logo concept & colors awhile ago,  but I thought it might be useful to try some of the exercises in this Crafting A Brand Identity course on Skillshare.

Before jumping into that we need to rewind a bit in case this is your first time here!

To set the stage for this convo we need to be on the same page about what a sketch note is. According to Mike Rhode, who is responsible for coining the term:
"Sketchnotes are rich visual notes created from a mix of handwriting, drawings, hand-drawn typography, shapes and visual elements like arrows, boxes & lines."
Here's an example:

Ok back to the brand identity discussion:

Mood Board

One of the first steps of the brand identity project was to create a mood board. On first glance (and probably on the second as well) this mood board seems disjointed and all over the place, BUT I think that it actually does a good job of getting across the "feel" that I want to convey here on Sketchy Ummah.  I thought it'd be fun to do a little mood board walk-through and hopefully in the process you'll "get" what Sketchy Ummah is all about!

In the upper right hand corner you can see an example of Islamic manuscript illumination, which is the practice of decorating Qur'anic verses in an ornamental manner. Traditionally royal blue and gold are often used, and I drew on this as inspiration for the Sketchy Ummah color palette so that it's inspired by Islamic art and history without being GREEN! Though sketchnoting is not nearly as detailed or ornamental it is similar in that you draw on creativity to present Islamic Knowledge, the end result being something that can be shared and resonate with other people.

The minaret shape on the bottom right was pulled into the U of the logo as a way to represent Islam. The Sketch college font was perfect inspiration because it blends the studious/collegiate aspect with the creative/sketchy aspect. Being a student is generally a pre-requisite to taking notes, and I definitely don't want that student part to get lost in the focus on drawings. To further drive the idea home of fun and lightheartedness juxtaposed with education I included the Monsters University photo. The other thing about an Ummah and a University is that they are communities of 
people that can learn and benefit from one another. I definitely want to convey that there's room for more folks in the "SU" community. 

The two middle pictures probably have less to do with the visual aspect of the site, and more to do with how I want people to perceive Sketchy Ummah. The top picture is from Seeker's Guidance and shows Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on a big screen, while the leaners are all comfortably propped up in their super cool floor chairs. It is traditional Islamic scholarship being delivered in a modern manner, the environment looks welcoming and comfortable. The second pic just below that is actually a shot from a Creative Live set for Learn Anything: Hacking Your Education with Dale J. Stephens, the founder of the UnCollege movement. Again I thought the set designers did a great job with the bookcase making the setting look "academic" but it doesn't look so stuffy that it becomes uninviting or inaccessible, thus the pillows and Dale w. a blazer and a t-shirt and jeans. Beyond the "feel" of the picture with Dale, his tips for self-directed learning and employing tools "like note taking and reflection" to take ownership of one's own learning are messages that I'd like to dive deeper into here on this platform.


In the middle of the night one night I thought of the PERFECT tagline to add as my blog description, but I forgot it! While wracking my brain I managed to come up w. a new one,  "Drawing on Traditional Thought". I like it because of the double-entendre!

Drawing on as in getting inspiration from, and drawing on as in the actual practice of drawing while taking notes. The traditional thought part is important to convey that a new delivery system doesn't mean new fangled ideas or bid'ah.  

The overall goal is to convey that sketchnoting is a serious academic pursuit, but it's also fun, accessible, and allows for creativity.

I'd LOVE to hear what you think! Do you feel like the logo & site does a good job of conveying the messages from the mood board? Comment below and let me know.

Oh and a HUGE thanks to Maryam of  The CMYK Lab who did my logo for me!

Umm Sultan
Sketchnote Evangelist


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