The story of the Wats Today logo is simple. First, we sampled it!
Like chopping, flipping, sampling has been a huge part of music production ever since the origin of Hip Hop all stemming from some of the most important drum breaks of all time, songs like “Funky Drummer" by James Brown to “When The Levee Breaks," by Led Zeppelin. Sampling provides an invaluable lesson for those developing their craft, teaching everyone that true genius doesn’t have to be complex, or have years of experience.
Ralph Quasar, Home Studio, Vista, CA © 2021
Sampling USA Today
"All the Public Enemy albums, I knew what records they were sampling but was like, 'How'd they construct it like this?!" - DJ Premier
In 2011, we were in search of someone to recreate the logo. We ran into a design friend, Jay Magpantay, and commissioned him to flip the USA Today Logo for Wats Today.
Adobe Illustrator Snapshot © 2011
While the logo flip was cool at first, the problem is when resampling music or visuals artists are often concerned about receiving legal threats. So in 2019, after years of a potential trademark conflict, we decided to put a stop to using the USA Today logo flip to represent the brand.
Sauvi, Live at DirtyFknVans, San Diego, CA © 2014
It was time to adjust, and collaborate with a brand designer who understood us and Wats Today.
“There’s no change without discomfort” - Anonymous
Not many know this, but the Wats Today brand name is a call to action.
After long discussions, we were set to move forward with a rebrand. They knew they would have to put more focus on the brand than other areas of the business.
And, they knew exactly who to partner with, good friend, Jordan Stark, Founder, Creative Director, Artist of Product Etcetera, and Westside Love.
Jordan Stark, Pow Wow Hawaii, Honolulu, HI © 2014 / Art installation, Music Box, San Diego, CA © 2015
Jordan Stark, The Notorious B.I.G. - Juicy, Painting, San Diego, CA © 2014
They’ve supported each other's brands and art for years, collaborating on several projects.
Lindsey Barto, Brent Davis, Tony Martinez, André Travis & Jordan Stark, Product Etc Studio, 8th & G st. DTSD © 2013
Dre Trav, Ez Pennybagz, Pony International, Westside Love, 5&ADIME, 8th & G st. DTSD, Photos by Dauche © 2013
In hip hop, collaborations have always caused an energy shift. This collaboration was no different.
Nothing shifts the culture like artist & producer, artist & engineer, brands & artist, or artist & artist. When like-minds collide they produce something deep enough to stand the test of time. It creates worlds within the universe.
Dre Trav, Sauvi, Ez Pennybagz, Live at Porters Pub, UCSD, Photo by Hanuit © 2013 / Trav, Pennies, Live at North Park Observatory, Photo by AD © 2015
Tall,Drk, The Gallery, Photo by INTBK © 2017 / Dre Trav, Photo by Chuck Moon © 2012
Pyramid Scheme / Lindbergh Gadgie, Product Etc Pop Up Shop, Photos by Thovan © 2012
Dre Trav (CALiENS), Ric Scales (18scales) / Richie "H/LF" Williams, Kaluhsed by Khaos, CALiENS Sessions © 2021
After sampling the logo, we hit the reset button.
"Quality is more important than quantity..." - Steve Jobs
André Travis, Jordan Stark, & Brent Davis, Kickoff Meeting, Google Hangout © 2020
Wats Today needed their own identity; like Steve Jobs' “Apple”, Phil Knight's “Nike Swoosh”, or our Alfred, Max & Francis “Blue Note'' logo, we needed something universal, simple, clean, effective. While it did not have to be something with a deep contextual background, it needed to exude. Something quality, stylish, and versatile.
The rebranding process was thorough!
We went from here to the moon and back. Google meets, mood boards, creative briefs, rounds of discovery, design, typefaces, and exercises to identify the brand’s characteristics. Notably, we went through a brand discovery workshop with a special deck of cards that helped us focus on our core values.
"I like the crate digger logo since three lines can be interpreted in multiple ways without context and/or face value. I feel like both the Vinyl Dub and Crate Digger concepts seem more appropriate for a record store rather than a label? Even though our music has nostalgia, it's sort of like "Oh of course they have vinyl as a logo" and leaves the person less eager to dive deeper into the brand because now there's perhaps less mystery?" - Monibeatz
Monibeatz, Andre Elias, Signature Sound Studio © 2015
Wats Today went from sampling their brand to carefully crafting one.
Post rebrand, supporters will still recognize Wats Today's vision, style, and sound; and the brand’s focus on music, media, and film continues. However, rebranding allows WatsToday to diversify its product offerings, & clarify the direction.
Specializing in limited edition collectibles featuring classic physicals, original art, specialty books, etc, our new identity makes the object, music, and message our own.
While the Wats Today logo has humble beginnings, we can still say that we did a great job of keeping the mission and brand alive, by creating beautiful music enhanced by beautiful packaging.
18scales, Sometimes It Rains, Cassette / 18scales, Fade Nasty, Compact Disc / Ralph Quasar, What's In The Bag?, Cassette, Product Shots © 2019
FeeLiT Records, San Diego, CA © 2018 / YAMMS LP, Product Shot
Ralph Quasar, Gone. EP, Lathe Cut © 2017
Now when people see “Wats Today,” people will see music.
With that said, the bar has been raised. The new Wats Today identity creates a clear connection to our new look associated with our current roster of artists. We don't know what will arise, you'll just have to wait and see.
WATS TODAY IS NOT A CLOTHING BRAND, IT'S A RECORD LABEL.