Arguably the first modern messenger bag, Timbuk2 began its rich history responding to the needs of the cyclists in San Francisco. Almost 30 years, and hundreds of products later, it was time to return to their core inspiration.

The spirit of the bike

Timbuk2 truly represents the essence of the bike — freedom, energy and the exhilaration that can only be completely felt in an urban environment. An evolving product line gave them the opportunity to branch out into uncharted territory — bringing the spirit of cycling to every other aspect of city life. Our challenge was to unite the brand across current and future collections — allowing each to express their own unique personalities.


Corporate Identity, Typographic Style, Pattern & Color Development, Graphic Standards Document


Timbuk2, San Francisco, CA


Client Team: Lizzy Fallows, Ken Pucker, Mike Wallenfels / Strategic Advisor: Clark Scheffy / Retail Interior Design: Gensler

Re-evaluating Timbuk2’s logo in light of the brands re-invention, was the beginning of our process. While there was history in the original mark, the typography and lock up told the story of the gritty San Francisco bike messenger culture of the 90s. It became clear the logo was polarizing—preventing many from embracing the brand, and competing with the diverse focus of both current and future collections. To allow all of the products to reach their potential, a simplified word mark liberated of the swirl icon, was deemed necessary.

It was clear that a vital part of the new logotype would be to capture the relentless spirit that is at the core of this brand. Timbuk2 is a playful company, and we wanted to retain this unstoppable energy and history with every aspect of the redesign. The letterforms are unique—inspired both by the mechanical process of engraving numbers on a bike, and the wide, confident typography emblazoned on San Francisco’s street signs.

A typographic system with large families of coordinating fonts was developed keeping maximum flexibility in mind. Examples demonstrating ideal scale, alignment and spacing were documented in an extensive standards document. As Timbuk2’s design roadmap, the standards lead the way for all succeeding design decisions—in-store, online, with packaging and on product.

Additionally, the new logotype is painstakingly minimal. This grants it a crucial flexibility, allowing it to be applied across all product lines—each collection shining with its own personality.

In addition, a comprehensive palette of neutral colors, patterns and textures was developed to be used subtly on various materials. These add depth and thoughtfulness to product photography that would otherwise be on a flat background.

The design process is an ever-evolving one as Timbuk2 continues to open new retail locations across the United States. The product lines will begin to integrate the new branding at the end of this year. We are proud to have played a part in Timbuk2’s rich history, and look forward to working with them to evolve their brand story in the years to come.

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