There is much that goes into designing logo magic that goes unseen. Behind the scenes, no illusions or wizardry are going on, as cool as it sounds. Instead, we’re more like mad scientists doing our research and then taking various elements manipulating and contorting shapes into various formations until we find an exciting configuration that fits our client’s objective.
With Pink Jacket’s logo-making process, we start by learning the history of the client/product, why they came up with their brand name, and research what is already out there in the marketplace. We want to avoid looking like or being confused with another brand. You can easily get into this unfortunate scenario when a logo project is rushed.
Working in black and white
After having researched competing looks, we start to work in black and white only. This forces us and the client to squarely focus on the foundation of the logo. Since we’re looking at typography treatments, shapes, and conveying various concepts with a logo, we need to contain the moving parts to a minimum. We don’t want to get off track by being distracted by color until we’ve passed this initial phase and narrowed the field.
Now starts the real fun! Once we’ve sorted our parameters, we start with massive experimentation. Some of these attempts lead to dead-ends, or ugly “Franken-designs” but in the process of following our creativity, we end up with an effortless-looking set of logos to show our customers.
Clients often aren’t aware of the time and work it takes to get there as they question why a logo should be so expensive. Perhaps it’s because they don’t get to see the bad and the ugly, only the good! The hours making the logo sausage and working with concepts that uniquely fit our client’s needs are not all shown. Internally, we review and make our final logo selections from the heap before showing the client. Much of our work never sees the light of day, but the work shows in our solid logo presentation.
Our goal is to make logos that say something special about our clients uniquely and memorably. A mark should exude the brand’s attitude in one quick glance. As well as making an attractive and professional mark, we also give a lot of thought to practical considerations such as how the logo will be used and displayed. The brand mark must work well in both digital and print formats used large and small. And finally, and most importantly, the logo’s creative direction needs to be justified to our clients. A good-looking, trendy logo that makes no sense won’t stand the test of time. So, after all these considerations are ticked off, it’s the client’s turn to choose. Often discussions will take place before a final logo emerges as the “winner.”
However, the winner isn’t just a cut-and-dry decision. More often, the client will request a few revisions on the chosen one before making it final. Usually, they may want to merge one logo with another because they like aspects of more than one logo. Sometimes this is not a problem, but often it can easily result in what we call “Franken-design.” Frankenstein + Design = Frankendesign is a well-known term in our industry.
Once we have a fleshed-out black-and-white logo commitment, we start on the color application phase. Now we start looking at an emotional attitude layered onto the mark. We use only 2-color combinations. Why? Because excessive use of color can and will incur costs for the client. It can also confuse the brand more than enhance it. If you look around, you will notice that the largest brands like Target, Starbucks, or Apple only use one color in their brand. However, a logo doesn’t live in isolation so the brand environment will always add more color to the look.
The color phase is usually shorter, but we still look at a multitude of possible color combinations, yet only show a selected few to our client. We certainly want to rule out any problematic color combos. Reasons to exclude various color combinations may have to do with visibility at a distance, legibility, wrong tone, negative cultural reference, etc. However, in some instances, the color options are limited to the subject of the business. If for example the name of a restaurant is called Purple Cow, the color purple will obviously need to be included eliminating other color solutions.
As you can see, creating a logo is a collaborative process at the heart of a brand. Before a final logo is born, much care, time, and experience are involved. I often think Elton John’s “Your Song” lyrics sum it up the best, “It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done!”
And we haven’t even touched the Brand Usage Guidelines yet. That is a whole other animal for another day.