Bahlr Media Burt Blackarach Branding

Created a fresh new brand for a Grammy award-winning music producer, audio engineer, and DJ

Branding Case Study

Burt Blackarach

Amani Smith, aka Burt Blackarach, is a Grammy-winning music producer, audio engineer, and disc jockey that comes from a long lineage of musicians. Blackarach has worked with acts such as The Temptations, Public Enemy, Aerosmith, and MC Lyte. He has also done production work for countless ESPN broadcasts and TV shows and films such as Law & Order, End of Watch, and HBO’s Entourage, to name a few. His and his family’s music has also been sampled by some of the most ubiquitous artists in the world such as A$AP Rocky, J Dilla, and Gangstarr.

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Lately, Blackarach has begun to shift towards a more consumer-facing, philanthropic role in his business, working heavily with Airbnb to book prospective DJ’s for his Be A DJ For A Day classes, where students come to his home studio and learn to scratch and mix on vintage vinyl from his own collection. He also books gigs for his custom DJ show called Unshazamable, in which he performs a full set using unreleased music and B-sides that he has worked on and/or owns the rights to… most of which the public has never heard before.

"We wanted a brand that looked as if it had been around since he first began spinning vinyl."

Blackarach called upon Bahlr Media (at the time called Seejepp Creative Studio) to rebuild his brand to reflect his old-school music industry values and harken back to the days that he holds dearest to his heart. Our goal was to unify his brand with a logomark and brand language that looked as prolific and legendary as Blackarach himself; we wanted a brand that looked as if it had been around since he first began spinning vinyl.

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After numerous trips to Los Angeles (where Blackarach is located) and Skype calls, we began moodboarding inspiration for Blackarach’s new brand. Trying to figure out a way to seamlessly combine the aesthetics of 70’s R&B, 80’s and 90’s hip-hop, and the sites and sounds of LA was the biggest hurdle that we needed to address. We also wanted to make sure that this brand could be expanded to his numerous programs and be effectively used on all sorts of non-traditional merchandise (humorously referred to as “Burtchandise” internally) such as turntable slip mats and record totes. This meant that the logo needed to both be self-contained and also have several variants to fit any size or shape without feeling out-of-place.

One of the elements that we really wanted to carry throughout the new brand was the shape and containment of a sewn patch, which was a design element borrowed from trucker caps of the 80’s and 90’s, which were huge staples of street fashion (think: Eazy-E’s “Compton” cap). Pairing that with an earthy color scheme inspired by the interior decor of 70’s recording studios and nighclubs and a pretty heavily modified version of the font Cooper Black created an attention-grabbing yet unorthodox combination of early hip-hop culture and Motown R&B. We wanted this brand to be something that the viewer could just as likely see on a B-boy’s athletic jacket or the bumper of a Ford Econoline panel van.

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The Be A DJ For A Day logo borrowed elements from the overarching Burt Blackarach brand, but puts its own spin on them. For instance, using a gradient created from the original color palette, the vinyl record is used as a sun, which is a representation of the “day.” Unshazamable takes many of those same elements and also abstracts the Shazam app logo to create the letters “U” and “N,” which is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Shazam not being able to recognize the un-indexed songs that Blackarach plays during the sets.

Check out Burt Blackarach's website at

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