Close-up of the Breakthrough logo as a painted woodcut.

Upgrading a retreat's look with an iconic metaphor

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May 8, 2017

About the Client

Breakthrough is a coaching and mentorship retreat program.

They primarily help people to focus on "breaking through" any barriers or patterns of behavior they've fallen into and can't seem to escape.

Web Design
Web Development
Icon Design
Print Design
Social Marketing

Encapsulate the mission of the retreat

The retreat has one simple goal - to help people out of destructive patterns. A metaphoric icon would be ideal for communication their mission.


Have a physical identifier

Because Breakthrough's work happens over weekend retreats, I wanted to provide the client with something they could easily take with them to any location. The whale would remind people of the company, of course, but also keep their focus on the goals set before them.



01 | Encapsulate the mission of the retreat

Starting with symbology

I wanted to represent the concept of emotionally breaking through a barrier by using an evocative physical metaphor. I thought of things like stairs, arrows, heads, and light bulbs. The most powerful logo design I came up with was of a humpback whale breaching the surface of the water. It's an incredibly powerful image that translates well to the emotional world. I wanted to keep the whale very minimal so as not to be too literal.

02 | Have a physical identifier

The whale as a woodcut

I partnered with Ken Zakovich of TIMBR Design to cut the whale icon out of MDF, paint it black, and fix it to a plywood backing. It was light enough to carry under one arm and but large enough to make a center piece at a Breakthrough retreat.

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Over the past 10 years I’ve worked with many graphic designers, including employees when I owned a marketing agency. I’ve never seen logo design with such thoughtfulness and creativity.

Josh McGinnis

Owner, Breakthrough
Close-up of the Breakthrough whale logo as a woodcut
Medium shot of the Breakthrough whale logo as a woodcut
Two alternate, text-only logos for Breakthrough
Badge logo design for Breakthrough

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