Design process / Inspiration

Bringing MG2’s 50th Anniversary to life

March 2022 / By Ellen Dulweber

In 2021, MG2 celebrated five decades of success. And true to our humble nature, we marked the occasion without much public fanfare. With the world still partially in lockdown, it was a challenge to truly celebrate how we’d originally intended. But the lavish parties we’d envisioned soon gave way to a whole host of virtual storytelling and celebratory experiences that were just as heartfelt and inclusive. And, in a way, it was more meaningful than we could have ever expected.

 

 

With everyone’s attention focused elsewhere the last year few years, it would have been easy to let this significant milestone pass by unnoticed. Instead, we decided to mark the occasion as much as the virtual nature of 2021 allowed: by documenting the big ideas of our leaders, elevating the perspectives of our diversifying employees, and putting it all out there, rough cuts, raw emotions, and real ideas.

To commemorate, we wanted to provide the firm with something new and unexpected. We curated numerous experiences and opportunities for staff to contribute throughout the year, with those compiled into a final physical and digital “zine” to encapsulate the past 50 years and look forward to the next 50. As a group of skilled visual designers and creative writers, our Creative Services and Marketing teams were uniquely positioned to bring the firm’s story to life through in-depth interviews, thought-provoking prompts, crowd-sourced ideas, and podcast-style conversations. We illuminated our people through photography, video, editorial design, and illustration. We shot for the moon.

It was important to us that this celebration have its own personality. We wanted it to have characteristics inspired by our past, but also have a cool new slant inspired by the future we envision for ourselves. In debating whether we should celebrate our past or nod to the future, we realized, why not both? Thus our 50th Anniversary theme of “looking both ways” was formed: by looking in the mirror and really asking, “who is MG2?” we can see the vision of our past refract into the future. 

We looked past the traditional to pay homage to the innovative trajectory of our firm while honoring the grit and sheer determination our foundation is built on.

On the Creative Services team at MG2 we love round robin design. It’s a true melting pot for everyone to collaborate and put forward their ideas for iteration and improvement. We leveraged the tactic when developing our 50th Anniversary logo: one of us started with a sketch, then passed it to the next person. They refined and then passed it on again. Rinse and repeat. Over time we started to tease out these amazing ideas that everyone had a hand in. And in the end, there’s no better feeling then when each of us looks at the final product and sees a little sliver of our original idea.

With so much incredible content to gather, we leaned into a physical format to feel like a time capsule and live on past our 50th Anniversary. Our goal was to immortalize what this anniversary meant to employees from all experiences and perspectives, and bring it to life through something that was unique, artful, and a little rough around the edges. Something cool and fun to display on our coffee tables amongst editions of Rizzoli and Phaidon.

The zine is comprised of three chapters, each depicting a certain time period of the firm. Each chapter features a distinct design personality; from color palette and typography to creative writing and voice, we wanted each element to feel like it belonged.

When you read the first chapter, “Reflections,” you’ll feel the pride that our founder Doug Mulvanny felt when he started the firm from a small rented desk and a phone line. You’ll also observe the confident leadership transition to Jerry Lee and the impact he created on the firm and in the community. This chapter’s visual language consists of a magenta palette with coral accents and straightforward sans serif typography to pay homage to “what was.”  

“Looking Both Ways” gives a more in depth look at MG2 today, and how CEO Mitch Smith found his way to the firm, climbed the ranks, and intends to lead us into the next 50 years. Among stories from employees across the firm, President Russ Hazzard talks about his “take the bull by the horns” approach. This chapter’s color palette takes influence from our focus on sustainability with pops of teal and a rich grass green. Typography comes to life through our standard typefaces, but with a twist of something new.

Finally, you end in an experimental play land, “Refractions.” As our female leadership takes center stage with CCO MJ Munsell and COO Celeste Lenon, electric colors of blue and coral erupt from the page as our typography twists and turns energetically, refracting the possibilities for our future.

The small touches really allow the zine to shine. We’ve integrated our audio and video experiences via QR codes that launch you to our “Conversations” series podcasts and video interviews with our executive team. Photo spreads are punctuated with die cut paper pieces that pace your experience and add a touch of whimsy. Gate fold timelines expand our history past, present, and untold future to create something truly interactive. Even the paper choices have been carefully selected to evolve and shift with the eras of stories they tell. And finally the zine is wrapped in one final iteration of our logo, this time dissecting it with notes and key drawings reminiscent of architectural plans.

Compiling this zine was truly a passion project for us. A predominantly virtual world made for a complex challenge to solve in celebrating MG2’s 50th Anniversary. But our people and their stories made it worthwhile. We’re excited to bring this anthology along with us as 2022 ushers in year one of “the Next 50.” Cheers to a notable past, inspiring present, and very bright future for MG2.