The Moonshine and Motorsports Heritage Trail is a large-scale project created by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR). It will officially launch in 2023 as part of The Year of the Trail, an initiative created by The Great Trails State Coalition. The Moonshine and Motorsports Heritage Trail seeks to tell a broader and more complex story of North Carolina's rich distilling and motorsports history. The goals of this trail include promoting rural economic development and educating the public, instilling a sense of hometown pride.
Along with the Creative Director, I was tasked with developing the logo and accompanying branding to promote the Moonshine and Motorsports Heritage Trail. I began with research, reading as much about the history of moonshining, bootlegging, and the early inception of stock car racing. Along with reading, I created a moodboard, compiling imagery and color choices for inspiration. We settled on creating logos with an illustrative component that could also be versatile and deconstructed as needed.
After sketching, I narrowed my choices to five potential concepts and then proceeded to iterate on these ideas. From these variations, I selected the two most promising.
The first logo choice depicts a fox and Plott hound (the official state dog of North Carolina) in a circular chase similar to the ouroboros, the snake which eats its own tail. This logo references the eternal chasing which took place between the fox (bootleggers) and the hounds (the authorities). I found in my reading several people use the fox and hound concept as a reference to the moonshine and bootlegging business, and how each side almost treated the whole ordeal as friendly competition. I included a touch of the opposing color in each animal, signifying that one wouldn't exist without the other. As for type design, I was stuck between two choices, both of which are shown, and would make a final decision based on feedback.
The second logo is multifaceted; The primary logo is a pure type treatment while the main variation of the logo depicts a moon and comet. This concept is inspired by the gas station signs of the 1940–60s. It was in during this time period that stock car racing began to gain in popularity with the greater masses and took on a sense of legitimacy as a sport. The circular construction and bright red typography are drawn from the gas station signs of that time. The crescent moon references the moonshiners while the star references the authorities. In the illustrative logo, the comet implies speed and references motorsports, and the moon references moonshine.
Once the logos were developed, I began to construct a presentation for each logo and branding concept to deliver to the marketing team. The fox and hound branding emphasize the rural and agrarian components of the history of moonshine and motorsports, as well as the thrill of the chase. The moon and comet branding is colorful and exciting, mixing modern image treatments with vintage-inspired design. The choices for this branding concept were made in order to appeal to the casual follower of either distilling or moonshine without alienating the true die-hard motorsports fans.
Unfortunately, neither of my proposed branding designs was ultimately selected. I was given the opportunity, however, to develop the branding for the Moonshine and Motorsports project using the logo that was ultimately chosen and designed by the creative director. Using the director's logo and color palette, I decided on a branding design inspired by Andy Warhol's famous series of silkscreen prints. The DIY, grungy aesthetic of those screenprints evokes the same spirit and ethos that many of the early moonshiners and stock car racers had. Illustrative imagery was conceived in Photoshop but ultimately created in Illustrator, since having vector images would provide greater flexibility of use. A Lightroom preset was also created in which photographs are manipulated to closer match the branding color palette and have a sense of timelessness. Once finished, a final branding proposal was created.