Southern Scrap Podcast is a show breaking down local and international Mixed Martial Arts fights. The host, Daniel Jonas, uses his years of MMA experience and international connections to bring a unique perspective to his show with a particular focus on promoting the MMA community in the Southern United States.
When Daniel approached me about working on this project for him, I couldn't wait to get started.
As always, the first step was research. Mixed Martial Arts is an industry that leans toward a "Monster Energy Drink" kind of aesthetic; an over-rendered, cliche kind of aggressiveness. It's always seemed like a bit much; these are legitimately tough athletes, no need to overcompensate!
Daniel asked for a more simple, refined look that would be easy to read. I thought that was a great call and also wanted to bring a more mature color palette to the industry.
Below, you can see some of the better MMA podcast covers I came across. Some of these did break the mold nicely, but there is still a ton of room to visually differentiate a brand.
As usual, I spent some quality time with my sketchbook to come up with and eliminating different possibilities for the cover art. I think of this step as a visual brainstorm.
I started exploring ways to use the initials as the focal point of the design. However there are some pretty heavy connotations with the "SS" initials and, as it turns out, there are a ton of "SS" logo floating around out there already. I wanted something unique and memorable for Daniel's show, so I went in a different direction.
The "Souther Scrap" typographic lockup offered opportunity to infuse the design with character and allowed the cover art to immediately start building brand recognition rather than requiring new viewers to try to figure out what "SS" even stands for.
Above is a snapshot of my font exploration process. Typography is generally the single most important aspect of podcast covers and it is often under-appreciated.
The customized script font definitely brings personality and conjures up that 'southern charm'. The arrow in the letter 'h' makes the typography unique and is a clear visual play on the title of the podcast. But it just wasn't right. Above you can see my progression to a more muted, traditional color scheme and addressing the typography. All the script text was just too soft and friendly; I had over-corrected from that cliche "Monster Energy" look.
The strong, angular font for "SCRAP" anchors the composition and, coupled with a 'cracked' texture brings that toughness and masculinity that was missing before. Now we're getting somewhere.
Making the arrow more 'aggressive' and adding some roughness to the letterforms really cements the style.
A stylized background image indicates the topic of the podcast for new viewers. Meanwhile, the bold shapes and simple color scheme of the text will allow for the typography to isolated and used in a wide variety of applications (such as T-shirts, social media) in the future.
The final composition is impactful and full of character. The typography holds up at small sizes without losing its charm. The bold white pops off the dark background to catch and guide the viewers eye. The subtle background image informs the viewer about the content of the podcast without visually overwhelming the text. The title is the clear 'hero' of the design.