Part of networking and referral based marketing is explaining what you do simply and effectively. When asked to justify the cost of my logo work versus the “free logo” services so many print shops seem to be offering, I simply say: I don’t draw logos, I design logo systems.
What’s the difference? A logo system can be used to create a consistent look even if I the designer fell off the face of the earth. No company should be held hostage by a printer, designer, or creative team of any sort not knowing where all their pieces are. You should have access to your logo file, your formulas and fonts, and be aware on how to use them to build your brand.
I thought I’d write about my particular design process, at RBKartworks, when working with a new client. For anyone looking to have a logo done, think of a logo system as an investment. You pay more upfront to save yourself a great deal of time and money in the end.
Getting to know the client and their company is crucial. Understanding the company’s business plan and marketing focus is key to making sure a logo is targeted to the right audience. I get a feel for the direction and personality of the company to begin brainstorming ideas. Brainstorming takes time to get passed the cliche’s or standard icons of any industry and to avoid trendy designs that will look dated over time.
Client: Ultimate Spa Source
Business: Providing products, services, and support to spa owners
Personality: Classy yet approachable. Trusted resource provider, excellent reputation in the industry. Friendly, warm and stylish.
The owner Sophie Gogos showed 3 examples of logos preferred. All had either wreaths or crests around them in golds or black. I asked the client if she preferred them, but she insisted that she’d only printed it for the colours.
After an initial brainstorming session, I begin to flesh out some ideas that have possibilities. This client’s logo package included a minimum of 10, although the client had indicated otherwise I chose to include a decorative medallion and a loose water inspired one as well. The above were some of the most promising. Her first choice was the medallion, but after discussing it with her web creative asked that I develop the loose water inspired one.
In Adobe Illustrator (my drawing program) I began drawing different wave and water elements, then constructed a circular grid to begin piecing it together. With trial and error I began to refine two potential designs. At this stage I begin to look at fonts and I stay with one-colour designs because if a design doesn’t work in one-colour it won’t work in many applications.
The client chose the wave medallion design, and I began refining the line work. It’s important at this stage to experiment and view it in a variety of sizes. A logo is used small on envelopes and email signatures, and also used large on signage and billboards. I realized that the fine lines were too close together and blended when too small, so I adjusted the spacing. I sent different colour applications and offered two type orientation choices to choose from.
Choosing a colour proved a challenge at this stage. Both I and the client had different ideas about what messages colours conveyed. After a few emails we decided to meet to review Pantone colour printing swatches together. My role in this was to ensure that colours chosen were appropriate for all manners of printing, many make the mistake of choosing colours that look great as a swatch but look nothing like that colour when printed in advertising or digital. Together we chose and finalized her full pallet in both metallic and regular colour so they would look consistent no matter where they were printed.
The last stage is simply finalization. I create a sheet that includes the clients 1 colour logo and full colour logo, their colour swatches and their formulas for office documents. I package the fonts or the font link to the clients for download, then place is all on an outline sheet for easy reference.
In this case I also created a wave bar graphic to be used on cards, stationary, and signage in the future. Below is her finished logo and business card front and back. (The web and print colours look different here)
Part of being a designer who works with brands is that I have to be able to adapt to different companies, their industries and personalities to properly represent them. I have traditionally shied away from decorative work, it goes against my grain, I like things simple and clean. When I drew that first medallion my instincts told me my client would pick it, I dreaded having to do it. In the end this design pushed my creative boundaries, challenged me to create a design totally foreign to my normal approach and I love it.
It’s my opinion that no matter what the trade or business, good clients can often push us to try new things and when you collaborate great things can happen. This for me was one of those times. Feel free to share your best example if you are so inclined 🙂
I thank Sophie Gogos or The Ultimate Spa Source for the opportunity, it’s been lots of fun so far.