Behind the brand

Michael Stowe is senior designer and technical specialist for Stages Cycling; a member of the team since the beginning and the creator of the Stages Cycling logo design.

Here Michael speaks to the challenges of designing a logo that represents the values of the company that sits behind it and what it means to be a part of the team from the early days.

Stage Winner

“‘Stages’ is such an iconic word in the cycling word; being a stage winner — it’s a huge deal.”

“The logo was a pretty big challenge. When I approach any logo I follow a few core principles:

  1. It has to be able to stand alone from everything else, all the noise, and mean something

  2. You have to be able to look at it and know what it is without it looking like anything else

  3. It’s got to work in black and white

  4. It must be timeless

  5. Fonts have got to fit right and not over complicate the design

“You want to make something that’s unique, something you don’t ever change.”

The Muse

“For the design I wanted to show movement, motion, the pedal work around the crank and I kept playing with this ‘swirl’ idea. Turns out during 2011 there was this contemporaneous effect and everyone from Whirlpool to Jamba Juice was doing a new ‘swirl’ in their logo design. So I kept on with this idea, trying to keep it all simple and trying not to make it look like a swirl!

I needed our logo — our quality seal — to hold its identity all on its own. So I just kept playing and playing with it, through hundreds of iterations, font types and taking feedback from the office. Andy Lull (product development director and World Champion) is literally the biggest critic of all for stuff like this, he’s the guy you want to please the most. He was my muse (laughs).

After staring at a table of designs long enough I spotted that the space around the blue had become an ’S’ and the blue had begun to form the shape of the crank. It had just kinda happened like that. The C came later: if we had the S already we had to find space for the C. So that was knitted in to the middle.

I lost count of the iterations we went through as a group to get to something that everyone liked. That was probably the hardest part! Any group size bigger than three means that some people are never going to be a hundred percent happy, right? But this thing was agreed upon.

And you know what, I’ve seen it in some crazy spots since. From global fitness showcases to newborn baby rompers. The weirdest place ever was in a bathroom at Wahoo Tacos. Out here in Colorado, cycling is a huge deal for everyone. It’s a real part of the community DNA and they’re a huge part of ours. Wahoo Tacos have this neat thing to promote local people and local brands by putting up stickers of companies that they dig in their bathrooms. So it was pretty cool when I saw that as I intended to do that myself — but someone beat me to it!

Pride & Ownership

I do feel a certain sense of emotion, pride, when I let myself think about it. The first time you do an ad design and it gets published in a national magazine, that’s kinda a big moment for a designer’s career. It’s pretty amazing that I designed something that people recognise all over the globe, that will be there long after I’m gone.

These days though I guess the logo carries more significance. Whether it’s the head office team headed out for a ride in the mountains on a Turnt Up Tuesday, or Pat Warner taking gold at the World Champs this fall, when people see the Stages Cycling jersey, they know who we are. That logo now represents some of the best people in indoor and outdoor cycling in the world.

It’s become more than a brand. It’s like a signature of the teams’ integrity and knowledge around power and indoor cycling — it’s our personality really.

The people in this company are the reason why you see that logo or the brand out there. Everybody here wants to work here and their commitment to customer service is of the highest level. I make people happy just about every day, what’s better than that. After every IHRSA, FIBO and IDEA we have done, more full classes and inspirational meetings with our global customers, the team gets more pumped, more driven to get even better, work harder, deliver the highest quality, innovate smarter. And we’re completely honest about it. Our customers know our commitment to serve, to uncover the next way to deliver best in class riding experiences, to drive their return on investment. They know what we’re trying to do. Especially when it comes to power. Together we’re driving real world data and real world workouts to back up the success of the thousands of riders who take to our studios and roads around the clock every day.

I’m proud to be a part of the company that made accurate data affordable and accessible to riders indoors and out — we’re making a real difference. A company with this much pride, doesn’t want to screw up or disappoint anybody, because we all built this and made sure it happened from the ground up. The passion that started this and the personalities that are here… it came right out of the gate . It’s never gone away. That’s something intangible. The cohesiveness we have. We all ride together, play together, respect each other and get along. The team makes Stages 100% cycling."

Michael Stowe, Stages Cycling

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