The burger “B” isn’t your average foodie’s Instagram post—the tasty twist on our logo is as much of a science as it is a design. If there’s one thing that we learned from this design project, it’s that no burger is safe in a studio of hungry creatives.

Graphic design isn’t all computer illustrations and techy art. That’s why we want to give you a glimpse into our gastronomic techniques for the burger “B” you may have never tasted before. Following with our “Storytellers by Design” campaign, designer Emily Biondo was asked to create our next “B” to complement our 4th of July social posts on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Instead of stars and stripes, Emily had a different inspiration for the holiday creation.

“A lot of people think of the 4th of July as red, white and blue instead of the actual activities that they do like cooking out,” Emily said.

The Birth of the Burger “B”

The inspiration for the design was to deviate from flat vector designs to a solid, meatier and juicer subject matter.

“As a designer, a lot of creatives get into situations where they do what they’re good at and do it for a long time until it gets monotonous,” Emily said. “As a creative happy factor, it’s good to change it up by using different skillsets that are not fine-tuned.”

Remember when your parents used to scold you at the kitchen table for playing with your food? We encourage it here. Emily started the original social media graphic by painting the “B,” which would be the customized top half of the sliced Bates logo, out of ketchup using a butter knife. She then photographed the ketchup painting and turned it into a Photoshop layer where she perfected the glossiness of the ketchup by tweaking saturation points.

The condiments were working in her favor, but Emily couldn’t seem to find a burger image online that screamed “perfect patty.”

“As a creative happy factor, it’s good to change it up by using different skillsets that are not fine-tuned,” Emily said.

This was a good enough excuse for her to take a trip to a local burger joint down the street in search of grilled perfection.

Where Art Meats Science

Once Emily returned with a burger, it’s a miracle that the patty lasted long enough to be photographed. She was “hangry” (adj. The state of when a person becomes angry from being so hungry) and the rest of the team was already placing dibs on who got to eat the burger afterward.

“We quickly set up the burger so the fat wouldn’t congeal,” Emily said.

The concept was to transfer the photograph of the burger into Photoshop as a layer, just like she did for the ketchup painting.

“It wasn’t as shiny as I wanted it to be so I added some glistening elements in Photoshop to give it that juicy and fatty feeling.”’

For the purpose of the social media graphic, Emily and Vice President Ernie Achenbach envisioned the burger “B” on the backdrop of a messy plate smeared with grease stains and condiments.

After the meat of the graphic (pun intended) was photographed and edited to the point where the team was ready to lick the computer screen, it came time for the toppings.

“I really never thought that I would spend so much time painting ketchup and Photoshopping fat like I have here,” Emily said.

Emily tucked a stock photo of lettuce under the bottom bun of the burger for textural elements and to add a variety of color. Then there was the debate to add the top bun or not to add it. You may call the final product an open-faced burger since the top bun didn’t make the cut. At first, Emily played around in Photoshop by placing the top bun at the bottom corner of the graphic, but it cluttered the overall aesthetic of the burger “B”. She also decided to forgo adding cheese to the recipe because a single slice would coat the entire burger and the extra design details.

[Insert a dose of heartburn relieving Tums here]

Order Up: Bates Burger

Once the creative team agreed that the burger “B” would be great to repurpose for Bates Creative’s next ad in Association Media and Publishing’s September/October issue of Signature magazine, they cleaned up their plates.

“We decided that since the B was so bold, we should emphasize that by making the backdrop a clean plate,” Emily said. “It’s more about the concept than the actual entity and environment of it.”

In looking at ads in publications, Emily explains that brands need to prepare for a one-second look—just enough time to capture a reader’s attention.

“This ad has a lot of depth as a stacked burger and it immediately catches the eye and translates well to print,” Emily said. “It gives the viewer something to rest on instead of a flat image. We wanted to step it up in complexity and diversity of the subject matter.”

In the final edits of the Bates Creative burger “B” ad, Emily added additional dimension to the burger by placing the plate on a realistic picnic table with horizontal boards complete with weighted shadows at the bottom to mirror the realism of a person leaning over their plate of food.

Emily goes on to explain that there’s something satisfying to the viewer and the designer about a project that takes multiple art steps (Photoshop, photography, painting, collage, etc.) because there’s something palatable and palpable about the technical process that viewers can relate to.

“I hope that we keep stepping out from vector designs because in a simple explanation of how things are viewed, people respond to recognizable objects that are custom created for a purpose,” Emily said. “…It goes hand-in-hand with how Bates treats any project—we have to start by researching it.”

People respond to recognizable objects that are custom created for a purpose,” Emily said.

In this ad, we aren’t selling burgers, we are telling stories through design. The copy underneath the plate reads: “How would you like your association’s story told? We recommend well done” as a play-on-words to how a person may request to have their perfect burger cooked.

A good design does not reel in a viewer based on imagery alone, but based upon how well the message translates. As always, your thoughts are appreciated—tweet us @batescreates!