Here I’m taking you ‘under the hood’. I’ll not just be showing you a recent logo design I created, but how I got there. This is stuff which many designers would rather not show off; the messy scribbles and the thought processes. The work I’m showing today was produced over the duration of a few days, and you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. What remains invisible are the hours of research put in to support the design process. Showing how I reached the final logo demonstrates what a client is paying for. It’s not just something to go on a business card, but the time, skill and experience a professional designer has.
Beate Kubitz, an independent transport consultant asked me to design a logo and business cards. My research produced examples of branding used in the transport sector are very corporate, using simple shapes and primary colours. The client wanted to fit in with this look, as the logo would be used on websites and professional documents.
I started producing ideas for this logo in the same way all designers do, by working out how many ways the brand name can be written. This is usually the dullest part of a logo job, as it rarely produces results worth developing. However it gets you thinking like a designer, looking for nuances in the letterforms and maybe after the fiftieth or hundredth time of drawing the same thing, you find a concept to take forward.
At this stage I played with shapes frequently seen in the transport sector; dots, lines and arrows, as the client suggested.
By this page I realised that using the client’s initials was the route I wanted to take. I liked the directional feeling an arrow has, and incorporated those into the letterforms. The highlighted areas are the ones which I felt worked better. I remember not warming to a traditionally written pair of initials (i.e. B.K.) because I couldn’t get Burger King out of my head (in spite not having eaten there for the best part of a decade!). But if I couldn’t escape the thought of fast food, it was likely an unfortunate viewer couldn’t either. So I moved away from that style of monogram.
Here I started incorporating colour. The client hadn’t specified a colour preference, so I just used blue and red to create contrast for visibility’s sake. It was this page where the monogram was becoming more refined, a unified marque, and I was drifting away from using arrows.
Here I clearly knew what I wanted the shape of the marque to be; a capital B, broken with a K inside it. The “tram lines” added detail. I felt the use of red and blue was too primary, corporate and evocative of the London Underground (which was too regionalist for a person who works nationally). I moved towards using greens as I knew the client had worked with sustainable transport solutions.
I had four variations on two themes which I knew were ready to take digitally. So I sketched them as precisely as I could on squared paper. I didn’t use a font once throughout this logo design, as I wanted as much control as possible over the letterforms. Getting the logo down on squared paper made my life easier when transferring the idea to Adobe Illustrator. I would already know what dimensions the marque could have, and instead of worrying about proportion, I could just use the software to provide a polish and experiment with colours.
With the logo ideas sketched in Illustrator, I could see which would work best. As I knew the logo would be viewed most on the client’s website, it needed to display well on screen and print elegantly. I selected the tram lines monogram; a degree more sophisticated than the heavy block arrows. I decided against using the dots, and left breaks in the tram lines instead. The dots would be too visually jarring and didn’t reflect real life transport maps.
A selection of colour combinations was created, which I presented to the client for us to choose together. We agreed on orange and grey- a contrast where one didn’t overpower the other, and the orange stood out from the crowd of corporate, inoffensive blues and greens. I paired the monogram with tightly-kerned Gill Sans, which I customised a little to create a stronger relationship between the upper and lower lines.
The final job was to print the business cards. This year I’ve been pursuing making my business greener, so was delighted when the client requested they be printed on recycled stock. These are 100% recycled, 350gsm uncoated and non-laminated. In layman’s terms, that means they’re matte, no sheen, nor plasticky feel. While it may not be visible, they do have a rougher texture than non-recycled cards, but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.
The real challenge this logo presented was the design being for an individual rather than a company. Businesses with several employees tend to have a set of written tangible core values they want reflected in their branding, while individuals are more complex, and are pulled in many directions with a broad skillset. Nevertheless, I loved working on this logo and hope that it serves the client well.
I hope this provides some insight into how I work. If you’ve been inspired to work with me, please get in touch grace[at]abelldesign.co.uk and tell me about your new project.