I’ve completed week four of my logo design challenge. My challenge is to develop three brand identities for three fictitious companies occupying three different industries. Last week, I conducted research and introduced my clients. This week it was time for brainstorming.
It’s not a stretch to say we’ve become inured to logos and branding—they’re everywhere. We can’t leave the house in the morning without having been exposed to dozens of logos. They’re on our toothpaste, smartphones, cereal boxes, appliances, and car keys. We’re barely conscious of them, which presents a challenge for designers trying to create effective logos.
With the level of brand saturation today, it behooves designers to create visually interesting concepts. An effective logo needs to attract attention. At this stage, it’s more important to focus on the quantity and diversity of ideas rather than refining a mediocre idea.
Both David Airey, author of Logo Design Love, and Bill Gardner, founder of LogoLounge, recommend starting by creating mind maps. The maps are built by using target words gathered during research and discussions with the client. Ideally, a designer would create a few mind maps for a single project. However, I created one mind map for each company because of the challenge’s condensed time frame. I was surprised by the amount of time it took to build a mind map, each took me north of an hour to create.
I used the following words to construct my mind maps:
- Tricorn Brewing Company: Tricorn.
- Kathy’s Flowers: Bouquet.
- Natty Man: Stylish.
After building his or her mind maps, a designer is ready to start sketching. It’s important to avoid the temptation of the computer and sketch by hand. Airey writes in Logo Design Love, “…by removing the computer from how you create, you gain much more freedom when translating your thoughts. Remember too, that your drawing skills aren’t important. What’s important is that you produce as many ideas as possible before turning to your computer.”
To get started sketching, designers should begin with a handful of words and ideas discovered during the mind mapping process. I followed graphic designer Aaron Draplin’s advice and used field notes for my sketches. It’s good advice for quick sketches. I also used a sketchbook for larger drawings because fields are small booklets.
Tricorn Brewing Co.
For Tricorn, I chose from my mind map to focus on a tricorn hat, a pewter flagon, and 18th-century caricatures. I wanted to include emblems and wordmarks because most breweries use both in their branding.
I chose to focus on bouquets, flowers, homes, and ribbons for my neighborhood florist. Many of the drafts involved the letter K, and I wanted to explore negative space. Negative space is a great way to create visual interest by taking advantage of Gestalt’s Law of Closure. “We mentally fill in the gaps in order to complete a perceived shape” (Hagen & Golombisky, 2017).
For Natty Man, the high-end men’s fashion label, I focused on the words stylish, tradition, and cheeky. I wanted to work on monograms, pictorial marks, and the letter N. I wanted to design marks that could be embroidered on clothing.
I decided to complete all three of the mind maps before I moved to the sketching sessions. In retrospect, this may have been a mistake. If I retake this challenge, I’ll complete a mind map one night and work on sketches the following night before I start the word map for the next company.
By the time I started sketching, the first couple of mind maps I had built were no longer top of mind. Because of this, it took longer than I anticipated to come up with ideas. For further proof, I completed the most sketches for the mind map I created last (Kathy’s Flowers). Creativity is stubborn. It doesn’t come on command.
The limited amount of time (one week) also hindered my ideation. A few days may be adequate time for sketching logos for one identity, but for three, it’s lacking. Besides time constraints, I struggled with lettering. I’ve never practiced calligraphy, so it was a struggle. Looking at my rough drafts, I found a couple of spelling mistakes. I was also hamstrung by my drawing capabilities – I haven’t regularly drawn since I was a twelve-year-old and then it was cartooning.
Putting aside my reservations, I have some promising ideas to work on. Next week adds computers to the equation. Hopefully, the addition will let me breathe life into my concepts. Check back soon to see how my logo drafts progress.
Aaron draplin takes on a logo design challenge. (2014, December 5).[Video file] LinkedIn Learning. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/learning/aaron-draplin-takes-on-a-logo-design-challenge/aaron-draplin-takes-on-a-logo-design-challenge-film
Airey, D. (2015). Logo design love: A guide to creating iconic brand identites (2nd ed.) New Riders.
Hagen, R., & Golombisky, K. (2017). White space is not your enemy: A beginner’s guide to communicating visually through graphic, web & multimedia design (Third ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Gardner, B. (2018, February 14). Logo development: Identity design and discovery. [Video file] LinkedIn Learning. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/learning/logo-development-identity-design-and-discovery/welcome
Gardner, B. (2018, December 12). Logo development: Identity development. [Video file] LinkedIn Learning. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/learning/logo-development-identity-development/logo-design-the-awesome-power