Currently, we (RocketMill) are in the process of rebranding. I have been given the honour of heading up the branding process, and it was an opportunity I couldn’t wait to get my teeth stuck into. I’ve done many branding projects before (including the development of our existing brand), so I was confident that I could rustle up something that will suit what the company wanted – in respect to where we think it was heading.
Now. I call upon you designers to back me up on this. No matter how good a designer you think you are – when it comes to designing something important for yourself or your company from scratch, your mind turns into a form of cheap store bought jelly. All of the practises you have learnt designing for the hundreds of clients before this project become null and void, and your mind lays into yourself like you were a work experience temp who just spilt a full mug of tea on the company laptop (I have actually done this – I have the mental scar to prove it):
“A 1pt BLACK OUTLINE? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING YOU UTTER MORON.” – And so on.
Now this is obviously an exaggeration. But this illustrates that the process can very easily become a battle, rather than a spritely skip in a field.
So although progress is being made, this blog post is for me as much as you. It’s a way of looking at and documenting all of the elements that I think need to be considered when designing a logo – hopefully giving me a reference that I can use to optimistically attempt to wean some structure back in to this silly, jelly like process.
A lot of truely brilliant logos rely on a memorable concept to make it work. Something that makes the audience say ‘that’s clever’ is usually a successful concept. Having a clever concept that coincides with a visually attractive and relevant shape/logo is the hardest nut to crack. the Dog Logic logo is an example of this being executed well.
Colour is such a powerful tool when it comes to evoking emotions, and positioning your company correctly in the market. Choosing the right colours can determine whether your company is corporate, forward thinking, friendly etc. It will also more than likely determine your house colours – which people will subconsciously use to refer to your brand. A good and obvious example of using colour effectively in a logo is easyJet. It’s orange hue epitomises easyJet as a brand and relies on it solely to ensure people recognise and remember its products and services.
Typography is another tool that can be used to define a logo and a brand. It can evoke emotion and position your company as effectively as the other ‘ingredients’ of your logo, if not more so. Generally serif and script fonts evoke elements of prestige and tradition, and sans serif give off a more clean/modern feel. So many large companies rely on original/memorable typography within their logo, such as Coca Cola, Virgin, Emirates, Cadbury’s and Kellogg’s - proving that the style that the company name is written in can become the logo itself. However, I want to use the lesser known ‘truce’ logo as an example of great typography in a logo – as it’s concept is a truly brilliant one.
The format of a logo is a way of describing what ‘type’ a logo is. Although logos differ dramatically, strangely enough there will be ways to categorise their format. Obviously, the format of the logo will help determine the way the company is perceived, like the other ‘ingredients’ above. For example, a crest can give of family values and traditions, where as an illustrative format can portray flair and being ‘organic’. Here’s some examples of how you might categorise format:
Shapes are another tool that can be used to instil memories. An iconic, simple and original shape can epitomise a brand and a logo. This is again a difficult ‘ingredient’ to get right. Having a shape that is unique, memorable, relevant, basic and aesthetically pleasing is a challenge – which involves a lot of tenacity and faith to pull off. McDonald’s clearly have got this one right though with their ‘Golden Arches’.
And the magic ingredient (which is needed in order for all the above to work):
The best way to ensure your ‘ingredients’ stay relevant, is to pick apart the company you are doing it for first. Asking questions like these can help you gauge this (see my blog post on ‘How to write branding guidelines’ for more help on establishing your brand strategy) :
- What does your company stand for?
- Where has your company been?
- Where does you company want to go?
- Who is your company’s intended audience?
- What is your companies market position?
Design three different logos with three different ‘concepts’. Try to get different variants of the ingredients above, in aim to establish three definitive ‘routes’.
Put the logos into context. Design some mock branding material (e.g. website homepage, stationary etc.) to help you visualise how they may work.
Critique the three routes. Come up with a favourite ‘direction’ and note down all the improvements that are suggested amongst you and your team.
Develop the logo for the chosen route. Go through each of the ‘ingredients’ of the logo and chose the best option for each.
Put the developed logo into context again – you’ll find that the treatment of the logo may differ slightly to Step 2, now the logo is enhanced.
Present to team. Repeat and refine Step 4 and 5 until perfect.