Storytelling by design: Christine Wisnieski works her branding magic in Cleveland

It's fitting that designer Christine Wisnieski kickstarted her career designing love notes for Kate Spade, because her Cleveland-based branding and collaborative design studio is a love letter of sorts to the city itself.

Over the last six years, Wisnieski has worked with a long list of local icons—from the West Side Market to Majestic Steel to RTA to Trentina—on redefining and refreshing their brands. "At the core, most people hire us to reimagine their organization and assist in repositioning themselves for growth," shares Wisnieski. "In a small way, [the studio has] been able to help shape the way the city presents itself to the world."

The studio's design services include logo design, print collateral, signage, websites, social media, and more—basically anything that adds to what Wisnieski calls a business' "visual voice." One of the studio's recent projects entailed working with Harness Cycle on a rebranding initiative to coincide with the opening of the spin studio's second location in downtown Cleveland.

"We revised their current logo to make it feel more concise and adaptable so that it could work in multiple locations, and also make [Harness Cycle] feel like a larger wellness brand," shares Wisnieski. She and her team also tweaked the existing color palette to be more "vibrant," and wrote a new mantra to "inspire their tribe."

For the last six months, Wisnieski has also been working with Jonathon Sawyer's Noodlecat to prepare for the opening of the restaurant's Crocker Park location.

"They wanted to make their visual brand fit the [restaurant's] interior," says Wisnieski, who designed the logo and digital menu boards. "Their food offering isn't very straightforward, so the question was: 'How do we make this menu very approachable to order [from], especially if you're not familiar with ramen and udon?'"

Wisnieski estimates that at least 85 percent of her clientele is locally based, and that's just how this Cleveland native likes it. "It's rewarding to help organizations that I know or have tried become nationally recognized," says Wisnieski, who resides in Cleveland Heights. "I really enjoy working on projects that I get to see come to life and create places I would love to attend."

Luckily for Wisnieski, she can see many of them from her downtown studio in the ArtCraft Building—which offers plum views of Key Tower, FirstEnergy Stadium, and Lake Erie. Her studio isn't just her workspace, but also the site of quarterly workshops that Wisnieski curates with local creatives. This fall's offerings have included a calligraphy course with Lindsey Beck of The Hive Studio, feng shui with interior designer Danielle DeBoe Harper, and floral design with Bailey Wilson of Molly Taylor & Co. (Wilson will return on November 29 to teach a workshop on creating a decorative floral garland.)

To date, Wisnieski's work has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, ELLE Decoration Sweden, Martha Stewart's blog, Design*Sponge, and more; she was also named as one of Design for Mankind's top Midwestern designers in 2014.

Wisnieski's next creative adventure will be working with the Snavely Group on The Quarter, a mixed-use development in Ohio City; she also hopes to add figure drawing (a personal passion) to the workshop slate in 2018. Her ultimate goal is to help all of her clients do "world-class storytelling" through carefully cultivated visuals designed with their vision in mind.

"We like to be very thoughtful in the way we approach design—we work hand-in-hand with clients and make decisions as we go," says Wisnieski. "It's a fun collaboration."


Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As a Cleveland native and enthusiast, Jen Jones Donatelli is thrilled to take on the managing editor role at FreshWater. As a full-time freelance writer and editor for more than a decade, Jen has contributed to publications including Redbook, Budget Travel, GOOD, Playboy, Thrillist, Cleveland Magazine, Los Angeles Confidential, San Francisco, Ohio Today, and many more. She is also a contributing editor for Destination Cleveland and a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
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