Railspur Partners

I Dig Elgin Construction Poster Campaign

Brand Identity + Collateral


A family history-inspired logo and brand design for Ottawa consulting firm

Blair, founder of Railspur Partners, came to me looking for a polished brand identity for his new consulting venture. With years of experience in his industry, he was setting off on his own and wanted to land on the scene with an eye-catching brand that would immediately draw in new clients.


We started the process with an in-depth talk about his business, his goals and where his business name came from. We also narrowed down brand keywords (a super helpful exercise to make sure you end up with a look that fits your idea!), which set the tone for something sophisticated and polished but playful.

As soon as Blair mentioned his family having a rail past, with his great-grandfather having worked on the railways around Ottawa and Montreal, I knew this was something that could give a deeper personal meaning to his brand. Things got even more exciting when Blair came to our meeting with an actual piece of rail that belonged to his grandfather!

Rail history galore
I started to research railway history around the Ottawa area and found a treasure trove of beautiful early 20th century graphics, such as the Canadian Northern logo. With many online rail history buffs gathering images and historical information, there were also topographical maps and detailed rail drawings, including of flat-bottomed rail like Blair's grandfather's piece.

Railspur Research-29

After pages of sketches and digital explorations, I presented Blair with 3 concepts, each of which fit within our brand keywords and reflected a hint of rail history. The key here was not to create an overtly rail-themed identity, but rather to give the family rail history a subtle nod. We did this by playing around with the rail piece shape, which ended up becoming a brand pattern, and by incorporating elements of early 20th century design into the main logo.

The result is an elegant brand identity with a hint of playfulness through bright colours and slants in the wordmark.


We also included a topographical texture in the brand identity based on one late 19th century map I found of the Ottawa region. This pattern made for a perfect background for the business cards, which were also based on the design of early rail tickets.


Here's what Blair had to say of the experience:

“When I needed a brand for my company, Barbara came highly recommended. And for good reason – working with Barbara was an enlightening and effective experience. As a non-designer, I had no insight in to the creative process and Barbara was able to get to the crux of what I wanted thoughtfully and with extreme care. The end result speaks for itself and captures exactly what I wanted.”


Want your own thoughtful brand identity?


Barbara Kowalski
Currently based in Ottawa, Canada


Get my monthly newsletter: a small dose of design + business + interesting things found on the web:


© Barbara Kowalski 2021