This is the last entry chronicling my brand identity development journey. Seven weeks ago, I charged myself with the ambitious task of creating three unique logos for three fictitious companies in three separate industries. I created identities for a boutique brewery, a neighborhood florist, and a high-end men’s fashion label. Over a month, I went through the regular brand identity development steps, research, ideation, concepts, and identity assets.
I wanted to tackle the challenge because of the importance, prevalence, and necessity of branding. A brand is the public perception of an organization and its products or services. Obviously, the public perception is of the utmost importance to a business. The same importance applies to individuals. The public perception of us across our work, interactions, blogs, and social media is our brand. This concept isn’t new. There are clichés that address it: a person is only as good as his or her name, and a person is only as good as his or her word. My brand is my name. Your brand is your word.
Most people don’t have the budget for identity projects but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t consider and cultivate their personal brands. Your professional reputation is your brand, and the brand mark (or logo) is the face of a brand. Even if you have no desire for a personal logo, you should give care to your social media handles, profile images, and the appearance of your name on resumes.
Last week, I presented the fruits of my labor. Now, I’d like to reflect on the identities that I created.
Tricorn Brewing Co.
The small New England brewery wanted a brand that said tricorn, colonial, and fun. I opted for an emblem logo because it’s a convention for breweries and it works well on t-shirts. The concept progressed easily from a wordmark sketch to an emblem. The final logo addresses tricorn and colonial. It has a tricorn, and I chose a font family that looked authentic to the early 19th century. It may be neutral as far as fun is concerned. I would say it’s more classical, perhaps understated, than fun.
I was pleased that the concept proved to be reasonably modular. For instance, the tricorn hat can be on its own as a pictorial mark that would work great on a bottle cap.
The neighborhood florist was looking for a brand mark to say, neighbor, flowers, and artistic. Despite spending the most time brainstorming on Kathy’s Flowers, I was plagued with problems.
Initially, it was my goal to create a logo that focused on neighbor – I wanted to include a house as a design element, but the idea didn’t pass the sketching stage. Next, I concentrated on artistic, but I soon found it was difficult to make an artistic flower in black and white that looked like a flower. My following design focused on silhouettes, but it didn’t come together either. My next idea was to try a floral pattern in the text. It was an improvement but still didn’t feel right. I kept the font and created a simple mark that plays well with the font.
I was pleased with how the final logo turned out, given the trouble I had. The design is similar to one of my early sketches. I’m not sure if it says neighbor. It feels a little corporate, but it’s a friendly design. The flower graphic component makes the logo versatile and could be used on its own.
For all the trouble I had with my florist, my men’s high-end fashion label went smoothly. I developed two of my first ideas. The label wanted its brand to say stylish, affluent, and timeless. My fedora version focuses on the brand word “stylish,” and the N and M initials version focuses on “cheeky.”
The fedora version includes an elegant font and fedora graphic that represents both “stylish” and “timeless.”
The initials logo combines a monogram with a pictorial silhouette of a well-dressed man. The pictorial mark is cheeky. The label wanted to have a wry sense of humor. The humor comes from the man’s attire. He’s dressed in a dated costume that harkens to Diamond Jim Brady and the Gilded Age.
I’m fond of both Natty Man logos, but the fedora concept is more versatile. The fedora and text can be rearranged to create brand marks for a variety of different context from clothing to packaging. However, the initials concept is the cleverer mark.
Seven weeks sounds like plenty of time, right? I thought so. There are two flaws in this thinking—apart from the difficulty of creating logos—its four weeks for creative work, not seven, and I’m not working on it 40 hours a week. This was a nights and weekends challenge. From nine to five, I am an email developer.
Despite the preponderance of research I did, I didn’t spend enough time researching the competition. I spent much of the first two weeks of this journey finding, reading, watching, and buying everything I could find on brand identity development. Yet, I spent a single week researching all three industries. It amounted to a single evening of research per company.
After my research, I made the unfortunate decision to create the mind maps for each company before I started sketching. The decision hamstrung my creativity. I completed the largest number of ideas/sketches for the last mind map I built, the florist. Of course, it’s ironic that I had the most trouble with that company.
Apart from a lack of time to fully explore each design concept and inadequate competition research, I had to reckon with mother nature. The Friday of week six, I lost power. My lights were out for 18 hours, and to get any work accomplished, I was forced to seek refuge with family a two-hour drive away.
This journey has given me an appreciation for professional designers and the volume of work that goes into creating what appears to be the simplest logo. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. For an overview of all my work, check out my Logo Journey page.