Welcome to the next phase of building my design business–Greer Genius: designing the logo (read here for the post about naming the business).
Today I’m going to tell you all about my process in developing my logo in hopes that when it comes time for you to design (or redesign) yours, you have some solid tips to start from. (To see more pictures of my process, visit my portfolio.)
Step #1: Be your own client
What do you do when designing for a client?
For me, it’s ask questions.(PS. For more, read “55+ questions to ask when designing a logo”)
What adjectives describe your business? Who is your target audience? What do you want people to say about your logo? How do you want to use your logo?
So, myself and I had a meeting and came up with the following guidelines for the Greer Genius logo.
- Professional but not stodgy. Creative, simple, yet engaging.
- Imagery must reflect the name and be purposeful.
- Flexible for a variety of applications, sizes, and substrates.
- Work well in a one color and reverse treatment in addition to full color. Would really be awesome to have a flexible color scheme, but not required.
- Incorporates the Greer Genius name and tagline (“brilliant graphic & web design”) to establish my business and brand.
Step #2: Sketching
I started where I always start with my projects when it’s time to get down to business: the sketchpad.
I doodle, I write words that pertain to my subject matter, I brainstorm.
You’ve heard this a million times by now, but it never fails: you’ve got to get all the mediocre and bad ideas out of your head so that the good ones start flowing.
With a name like Greer Genius, my doodles included light bulbs, poorly drawn brains, gears, links, and exclamation points; and words such as idea, thought, intelligent, inspiration, spark, bang!, mind, brilliant, and so forth.
I drew the words ‘Greer Genius’ in cursive, in all uppercase, in all lowercase…you get the idea. Wonderful what a page of sketching (even stick-figures) will do to get the gears turning.
Step #3: Font Selection
Right, so I had direction and the creative juices were flowing.
I opened up Illustrator and started with the business name: Greer Genius.
I began at Agency FB (the first font alphabetically in my character panel) and went through each one, copying and pasting ones I liked for future testing. After Zapfino Dingbats I had about 12 Greer Geniuses lying around, so I split my font favorites into two groups: serif and sans serif.
I had no idea which one I preferred, but these were the fonts (of all of my fonts) that I liked, and it seemed to make sense to me to separate them in this way.
I really started to assess what I liked/disliked in each of the fonts.
Berlin Sans FB Demi Bold was too cartoony; Trebuchet MS too blocky (see i) and normal. In the serifs I was primarily concerned about stroke width.
I liked the vowels (e and u, particularly) in Constantia but the capital G feels like it’s got a pointy serif about to strike the crossbar. I wasn’t crazy about the upward serif and rounded r on the Georgia font, and Calisto MT’s e is too top-heavy.
My top picks? Serif: Palatino Linotype. Sans-serif: Candara.
Step #4: Adding Imagery
With my sketchpad of ideas next to me, I started working with imagery: brains, gears, light bulbs, lightning etc.
I put the brains in the gears and the gears in the brain. I tried silhouettes or cutouts and introduced colors and tones. A lot of my ideas were unimaginative. But I kept on with the mediocre and bad ideas, knowing that the good ones were on the way.
The moment of inspiration hit me at the very end of my second brainstorming session.
I developed the first draft of the burst logo you’re seeing today. I didn’t give up on my brain logo, but something drew me toward the burst.
Step #5: Setting it Aside
As I have mentioned before, I don’t make long-term decisions quickly.
So I didn’t even look at my logo ideas for 2 days.
I wanted to, but I didn’t.
I wanted to test my emotional reaction to the logos I had; let my brain subconsciously chew on the pros and cons of each logo and how each fulfilled my criteria. I liked what I remembered seeing, but would I when I returned?
Step #6: Refining
After careful reflection, I settled on the burst logo and started refining the concept.
I took out the stroke separating the name and tagline. I played with the justification, letter forms, and tracking.
I tweaked the burst in (almost) every imaginable way. I played with color schemes and gradients. The logo began to feel as if a complete physical checkup would involve less poking and prodding.
When I had exhausted the derivatives, I had 15 different versions of my burst logo, and probably 20 or 30 more that went to logo heaven. Of those 15, I narrowed it down (pretty easily) to 2 versions, and from there made the final decision on the logo you see below.
Step #7: Analysis:
Let’s take a look at my guidelines and see how I’ve done. Parts of this process are totally subjective, so I’ll try to define and explain my positions.
- I feel I developed a very simple yet professional logo. The font (Candara) is robust and stalwart with just enough friendliness and creativity in the slight concavity of the strokes while the burst gives life and energy to the logo.
- The burst emulates, to me, that spark of inspiration, that breakthrough “aha!” moment one experiences during a brainstorming/development session. The gradient gives the burst movement and energy, as if a light were shining outward from the center.
- This logo will scale well and work in embroidered, printed, or on screen applications without losing or obscuring elements of the design.
- I absolutely love the color flexibility in this logo. It’s beautiful to me because I don’t really have to choose one color scheme for forever; I can choose the most appropriate color scheme for the application. Brilliant! I am so pleased with this flexibility.
- Obvious. The name and tagline are in the logo. However, I like how the hierarchy plays out and the readability of the text. Many people feel small caps/all caps are difficult to read, but in this situation I feel that this treatment is the simplest, cleanest, and easiest to read.
It really was a scary prospect of designing something for myself. There’s no one to make the final decisions for me, and really, what good designer can’t make her own fantastic logo? That fear of failing myself in my own livelihood made me feel really put on the spot. Ultimately, though, the pride of a job well done prevails!
Speak up, GDB readers!
I’d love to hear your input on the logo itself, my process, my rationalization, or a good business card printer in the comments below. Leave a comment on this post–I’d love to talk with you!