Bruce Hale is a Seattle-based artist and designer who works to launch, strengthen, and transform brands. In addition to creating distinctive and memorable brand strategies, including logo design, typography, retail concepts, signage, and packaging, Bruce is a consistent guest instructor and lecturer at many Northwest colleges. He has served on the advisory board of Cornish College of the Arts, Central Seattle Community College, and Edmonds Community College. For Seattle Chocolate, Bruce reimagined our logo and designed many of our truffle bar wraps. More recently, Bruce returned to the fine arts, and is painting in his studio in Port Townsend, Washington. Learn more at brucehaledesign.com and brucehalestudio.com.
Q & A with Bruce Hale
What inspired you to work with Seattle Chocolate?
I felt really good about this Northwest company, one whose products I knew and had a lot of respect for. It was obvious to me that the brand had outgrown by leaps and bounds the identity that was originally developed for them and I felt I could be of service and help move the brand forward. I reached out, we met, the timing was right, and it was a good match. I knew I would enjoy working with Seattle Chocolate, and I did.
What was your inspiration for reimagining the Seattle Chocolate logo?
It was more a path of discovery than an inspiration. We needed to create a system to put in place, one that was a growth of what they already had. The logo had to be respectful of change and future evolution. It had to support and sit well with a lot of different illustrators and not conflict with their different styles of work. I wanted to bring some equity along, so the new letterforms are derivatives of the original logo, and we developed a trapezoid-type shape to make it feel more contemporary. We went through a lot of explorations, I did a huge amount of handwork, and Jean and Kirsty were a big part of the creative process, which made it really fun.
What was the most exciting part of the project?
The joy comes from two areas—the process and results. The process involves partnerships with other people, in this case, Jean, Kirsty and the other team members, and so this process was really fun and enjoyable! But the most inspiring part for me was after my role was done, to just step aside and watch the brand keep flourishing and growing. To see it on the shelves and watch the system we put in place grow; to watch new illustrators step in and see the brand continue to develop. The curve of growth for Seattle Chocolate has only been upward! The fact that this team is made of creative thinkers and they know how to make the brand grow has been enjoyable for me to watch.
Favorite Seattle Chocolate bar?
I definitely lean toward dark chocolate. If I had to pick a favorite, it’s the Mexican Dark Chocolate. That little kick of spice is wonderful.
AN OBJECTIVE, EDUCATED, AND EXPERIENCED POINT OF VIEW ON THINGS THAT WE WERE TOO INVOLVED WITH TO SEE ANYMORE. HE GAVE OUR LOGO AN UPSCALE AND CONTEMPORARY FACELIFT, UNIFIED OUR SEATTLE CHOCOLATE BAR LINE WITH A COMMON ELEMENT SO IT WOULD READ MORE LIKE A FAMILY ON THE SHELF, AND WORKED IN OUR LOVE OF COLOR, PATTERN AND ECLECTIC MIXING OF DESIGNS. IT’S IMPORTANT TO STAND BY YOUR BRAND AND WHAT IT STANDS FOR, BUT BRUCE SHOWED US THAT YOU CAN DO ALL THAT, AND GET A FRESH NEW LOOK, TOO.
“ONE OF BRUCE HALE’S STUDENTS ACTUALLY CREATED THE ORIGINAL SEATTLE CHOCOLATES LOGO AND, AFTER 27 YEARS, BRUCE THOUGHT IT WAS TIME FOR AN UPDATE. HIS TIMING WAS PERFECT. HE WAS A GREAT PARTNER: COLLABORATIVE, WILLING TO PUSH HIMSELF AND PUSH BACK TO CREATE A CLEAR BRANDING STRATEGY WITHOUT COMPROMISING OUR LOVE OF COLOR AND SENSE OF WHIMSY. WHAT I LOVED MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH BRUCE WAS HIS ABILITY TO DRAW ON OTHER ARTISTS TO FULFIL HIS VISION WITHOUT EGO AND HIS PASSION. HE WOULD GET SO EXCITED ABOUT AN IDEA THAT HE WOULD RACE DOWN TO THE FACTORY TO SHARE. I WOULD DESCRIBE HIM AS OLD SCHOOL – INSISTENT ON WORKING IN PERSON, SALTY, FUNNY, AND BRILLIANT.”