As we round out Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re taking a moment here at Reit to highlight some of the work we’ve done for Liz’s new venture: Other Parents Like Me (OPLM). OPLM’s digital community provides a support network for parents supporting parents of children struggling with mental health, and offers opportunities to connect with mental health professionals, industry leaders, and guest speakers.
Reit had a hand in concepting and creating the branding for OPLM, and we’d like to walk you through the thinking behind the design! As with building a community, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes in crafting a brand. So we caught up with Liz Reitman (Reit’s founder) and Elizabeth Hajny (Reit’s Lead Designer) who have come together to share the design process for Other Parents Like Me:
Liz: The thought process for the OPLM logo was originally a Lotus Flower. The concept behind it was that a Lotus Flower grows in muck and blooms into a beautiful flower. And that’s kind of the journey, right? It’s painful, it’s mucky, it’s messy…but there can be beauty in that.
There was a lot of other symbolism tied to the Lotus Flower that connected with us; plus when you’re on this journey with your child, a lot of kids go to Wilderness, which is steeped in nature, so that element also factored into our initial design concepts.
Elizabeth: It started out as very symbolic, very light and metaphorical.
Liz: And we did go down a really deep path with the Lotus Flower, but as we kept iterating on the design, it felt too feminine, in a way that just didn’t feel right.
Liz: When we started looking into the therapy and support group space, we noticed a lot of lotus flowers, a lot of metaphorical imagery, and a lot of pictures that, to us, were kind of sad! So we decided to flip that and go with images emphasizing sunlight and brightness. And a really bright color palette. We decided that we could show the light of this. Yes, there is brevity in this, but we wanted to show the potential. As hard as this experience is, it can be a gift.
Liz: We wound up pivoting towards more community-focused imagery. We started concepting other avenues….
Elizabeth: Like Liz said, we then pivoted to more iconography — with hands, hearts, questions —
Liz: I think the question iconography illustrated that OPLM was a place to ask questions, have conversations, and be heard. It morphed into these hearts because we wanted to illustrate that our community was helping each other:
Liz: We were then very focused on hands. So we looked to distilling them down to their most basic form and had this weaving and overlapping to represent helping one another:
Elizabeth: But it wasn’t resonating. So we connected with some other designers to give us a fresh perspective and this design is closer to the one we landed on:
Liz: We wanted to focus on the positivity of the experience, as opposed to the difficulties. And ultimately we landed on the initials of Other Parents Like Me “OPLM”. It felt right! You really have to go with what feels right.
Liz: One of our founders came up with it, and it was a no brainer! We heard it and, ‘Boom’. It just made sense. We did have to pay for the URL—it was already owned—but we knew it was critical to have oplm.com and otherparentslikeme.com
Elizabeth: We wanted to emphasize the community and connection Other Parents Like Me offers parents, so the next concepts layered and overlapped the initials. The logo was distilled down to the symbolism of togetherness, rather than something more figurative (like the flower). It was more about what OPLM represents.
Liz: Then we really liked the idea of the “M” as two people holding hands. And that really seemed to resonate with us:
Liz: You know, a lot of people don’t pick up on the people holding hands within the “M” initially. And to me, that’s what some of the greatest logos do! Like Fedex has an arrow in the letters, which you may not notice. So, for me, when you see something at face value and you like it. And then you see it again and you see something else, and then you see it again and see something else. And that’s what I love.
Liz: We really played around with the lettering and the colors. Is the “O” filled in? Is it not? Are the letters squared off? Or rounded?
Elizabeth: Yeah, our colors enhanced our theme of potential, community, and connection. In our brand guidelines, you can see the overlapping colors and their names: “Optimistic Yellow,” “Resilient Red,” “Strong Orange,” “Serene Green,” “Calm Blue,” and “Stable Grey.”
And then we played around with patterns and overlapping designs to further the bright and hopeful messaging.
Liz: Yes! All of these other solutions could have worked, but it was really about what felt right and best represented our vision, mission, and what we are about. And we really wanted to stay away from being too feminine. That was a big component for us to consider within the design because, yes, we are a women-owned business, we are being led by women, more women actually come to the site, but we also need to help men! We have a men’s group facilitated by two amazing men and it’s doing quite well because men need this space. So we really wanted to make sure that we weren’t excluding anyone based on the overall look and vibe.
Liz: As we’ve evolved with our strategy, we’ve stayed true to the palette and overall look, but we’ve also brought in mindful moments, quotes, advice and lessons, all with a positive tilt. We also work with our community of parents to share their stories. And I think because the branding had a good foundation, it’s been really easy to take it further throughout all of our marketing, social media, and more. We use a lot of overlapping circles, which harkens back to the overlapping of the logo lettering…so many layers in here!
Our website is really well received. And it’s easy to design stuff because we have so many great assets to work with. So we have a lot of flexibility in terms of design to tone it back or make it more playful.
Liz: Yes! There is so much success that it’s really exciting. We’ve hit over 200 members, onboarded our first school to our program, we are in talks with educational consultants that are eager to offer this program to the parents they work with, we have schools sharing our programs within their newsletters to parents…we have so much interest! We hit 800 Instagram followers since January, 900 followers on Facebook, and our directory has over 1,000 resources…it’s all continuously growing.
In terms of programming, we are fully booked through the end of the 2022 year for our Thursday speaker series—which features authors, speakers, podcasters, you name it—and we also completely booked out our Monthly Panel Series through the end of the year. We’re also attending conferences, such as the National Therapeutic Boarding School (NTBC), IECA (Educational Consultants Conference), where we will host meetings so attendees can experience what an OPLM meeting entails (think meditation, trauma-informed Yoga, discussions). We have 17 meetings per week with 35 peer parents trained and facilitating these meetings. It’s really cool to see.
Elizabeth: It’s interesting to connect with parents in a small group meeting and then have the opportunity to hear from panelists in the space. What’s so great about our platform and programming is that parents can ask these field experts questions that pertain to their circumstances. It’s really a space to be heard and to hear other people.
Liz: We’ve also opened the speaker talks (every Thursday at 8pm EST) and the panels (last Sunday of each month) to interested members. And we’ve noticed that many people who were unable to attend or want to reference the talk again will go back and listen to the recordings! OPLM is super symbiotic; the consultants and experts we have worked with are being connected with the parents within our community; we’re creating a mentorship program for community members; we also have a number of partnerships with several nonprofits including, the Partnership to End Addiction, All Kinds of Therapy…because at the end of the day it’s all about giving back. It really is all about helping people, and our community is incredibly dedicated to doing so.
Liz: One of our goals is to add a chat feature, because we’ve noticed that parents are really eager to connect with one another. When you’re in it, you really don’t realize how many other people are going through that experience. And once you start talking to other people that are in a similar circumstance as you, there is an instant bond. No judgement, no shame…there is none of that. Oftentimes the hardest part is getting someone to attend a meeting. But once they’re in, I have no doubt they’ll stay! Because when you can talk and see everyone’s heads nodding, it’s a different level of support.
The state of mental health and suicide rates among teens and young people is abysmal. And we’re working with the parents—which not a lot of people are talking about—and how the whole family system is impacted. From the financials, to work and personal life, marriage and divorce…and then add the shame and judgement onto that, it’s a lot! So OPLM sees that and we’re working to integrate the parent’s experience into the healing process.
Elizabeth: Yes, the parents that have joined our community are realizing that in order to break the cycle, they also need to support themselves and their own personal work. While every story is different and nuanced in its own way, a lot of the healing and recovery process includes parents finding and getting the help and support they need.
Liz: Yes! We want parents to be able to become aware of and access support earlier on in the process, so that they have tools and resources before they are in full-on crisis—and believe OPLM fills that need. I mean, gosh, if I had a support group at the beginning of this journey, I think at least a year of our lives would have changed.
OPLM is just getting started! Through Other Parents Like Me, you can meet a community of parents who are supporting one another through their parenting journeys, and expanding the scope of what we call “awareness”. If this speaks to you or you know someone who could benefit from a community of parents supporting one another, try OPLM’s free 7 day trial!