Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Brand a brander

As logo designers, it's a well stated idiom that the hardest brand to do is the brand you do for yourself. Some designers model their business around a logo, and others have spent decades trying to find that mark that's just perfect to represent their brand (some still aren't 100% happy with that they have).

As an experiment, I thought it would be interesting to see how other logo designers think we should/could brand outselves. Obviously this is a bit of fun and the designers were given a limited brief, but the results speak for themself.

Here's the questions each designer got.

1. What name should be in the logo?
2. Is there a tagline that should be used?
3. Pick 4 words that explain what you want to portray int he logo.
4. Any specific colors?
5. Target market?
6. Any specific things that need to be included?

You can see the results below, but a very special thankyou to (in order of response);

1981 Redesigned by Stephen Olmstead, Sonata Creative
1981 Redesigned by Stephen Olmstead, Sonata Creative

I really enjoyed getting the chance to mock up a rebrand of Joshua Geiger's wonderful '1981' logotype. The most difficult part of this process was to be succinct, polished, and thorough while still containing the essence of Joshua's brand (check out Joshua's own logo write up here). Joshua indicated that his logotype should convey a modern, clean, simple and experienced look. To achieve this, I decided to blend the numbers of 1981 in a stylized way which, while still readable, creates a unique new glyph all on its own that is characterized by gently curving lines and a sleek, polished new surface. I did depart from Joshua's original style bit, including the addition of color, which I felt added a bit more punch against the dark background.
1. 1981
2. not needed, but if the designer has an idea, throw it on in there!
3. Modern, Clean, Simplicity, Experienced
4. I have chosen to stay in the greyscale area, but this is totally up to the designer here.
5. Small - Med size companies looking for a new logo or re-brand.
6. "1", "9", "8", "1"

Jared Lunde Redesigned by Fabian Marchinko, Brandsimplicity
Jared Lunde Redesigned by Fabian Marchinko, Brandsimplicity

The icon is made up of the J, A and the L, the overall shape is one of starman moving forward. I personally enjoy Jared's wit and ability to come up with a one line comeback to any comment throw at him, thus the reasoning behind using simple lines. Also this provides a view point of his ability to create simple solutions to complex problems. See the sketching process here.
1. "Lunde" or "Jared Lunde"
2. Not unless you want to lose a client. (not a tagline, I mean just don't use one)
3. Smart, Professional, Motivated, and Downright Sexy.
4. Nothing bright... Nothing on the K scale.
5. Needs to have a fairly universal appeal, but with a slight emphasis put on more corporate clients.
6. I really prefer my initials JAL, but I'd be open to a mark of a different direction. Obviously I have nothing against the abstract.

Neil T. McDonald Redesigned by Nathan Sarlow, CobaltCow
Neil T. McDonald Redesigned by Nathan Sarlow, CobaltCow

Neil's current brand is very geometrical and I wanted to keep the strength and hardness of the edges while bringing in some design flow. I started right off the bat trying to work out a fluid way of merging the letters into a distinct mark. Looking at it now some of the gaps could probably use some tweaking, but it was a lot of fun!
1. NTM Design / NTM (Whatever works best for the designer)
2. Nope.
3. Solid. Cut. Rock. Iconic. *maybe beard
4. Nope.
5. Young, trendy, hip wannabes. 20 - 40
6. Would like an icon accessible for avatar / buttons / sticker / etc

Brandsimplicity Redesigned by Josiah Jost (Siah Design)
Brandsimplicity Redesigned by Josiah Jost, Siah Design

Fabian is a really talented logo designer and I was excited to find out he was the guy I was to brand.
The mark forms a simplified "B" and "S" for brand simplicity. It also forms an abstract butterfly. I liked the idea of a butterfly as it portrayed visually pleasing. I'm pretty sure the mark is unique but considering I didn't have a lot of time to work on it I didn't take the time to do the research. :)
For the type I used Avenir 35 Light and removed the dots of the "i" to subtly give the type more simplicity.
4.No, I want you to have total creative freedom
5.Start-ups and medium size business
6.No, as long as you capture my style of designing. Which is less is more.

Yossi Belkin Redesigned by Gareth Hardy (Down With Design)
Yossi Belkin Redesigned by Gareth Hardy, Down With Design

Seen as Yossi is an established designer I felt it was important to reflect a slight resemblance to his existing logo so that his clients will still recognise his brand. I chose to achieve this by recreating a custom typeface whilst using the existing brand colours. I hope I have created a fun, retro & artsy solution as required in the brief.
1. Yossi - My name its a nickname for Joseph.
2. Nope
3. Retro. Young. Artsy. Out there very 1970's
4. I like browns but not tied to anything.
5. Anyone that i can get. . :) Most of my cliental is Jewish but the logo should not reflect on that.
6. Not really...

eGrace Creative Redesigned by Trish Schaefer (Contemporary Native)
eGrace Creative Redesigned by Trish Schaefer, Contemporary Native

My initial reaction upon first viewing the eGrace Creative logo was that the logo was both too long and had too many conflicting fonts: the emblem, eGrace & Creative. So those were the first two problems I sought to correct. I then read thru the brief 'brief' and delved into the links provided by Brandon. What struck me immediately was that eGrace was named for his daughter, yet there was little graceful about the design. I looked thru and found a beautiful photo of his daughter and immediately thought of incorporating her face into the logo. The warm pink color I chose matched her shirt in the photo, but I think I would change it to green to match her eyes instead.
I hope he likes the new logo, but, if nothing else, Brandon has a simple drawing of his daughter to enjoy.
1. eGrace Creative
2. No tagline necessary.
3. Hard to do in 4 words - my daughter is Ella Grace and her creativity inspired the name for my business, so I'd say: creative, artistic, clean, simple.
4. Just redesigned site and have stuck with #2d3939 and #998800.
5. Businesses and nonprofits, churches, ministries, etc.
6. Nothing specific to include. Open on shape, symbolism, etc.

Little Box of Ideas Redesigned by Brandon Cox (eGrace Creative)
Little Box of Ideas Redesigned by Brandon Cox, eGrace Creative

As I looked at the existing Little Box of Ideas logo, I was struck by the impact of the exclamation point as the "i" in ideas. It does tend to represent a bit of an epiphany, that climactic moment when the kind of inspiration hits us that takes us to the completion of a creative project.
I added some other elements to the thought process behind the logo as well. For example, the brighter color on the box from which the idea comes signifies that great ideas stand out from the crowd. Creativity springs from critical, original thinking. It further symbolizes that the best ideas absolutely have to break out of the box and be heard. They demand an audience. I also wanted the box from which the creative idea comes to be the smallest, not only to represent the "little box" but to send the message that often the most creative ideas come from the most unexpected sources.
1. Little Box Of Ideas
2. I wouldn’t use a tagline for mine. My logo name is as big as a tagline
3. Creative Fun Ideas Casual
4. I went with green because “green” is the new “black” isn’t it? Also because I wanted “green” to symbolize “go”, “viability and sustainability”, “energy”.
5. Anyone who appreciates a good thought process and the creativity, imagination and ideas emerging as a result.
6. The exclamation mark in my logo symbolizes a “Eureka” moment and is also an “I” upside down. I wanted the logo to be simple with strong, classic fonts and a big enough thought cloud to play around with future logo marks in it.

Down With Design Redesigned by Joshua Geiger (1981)
Down With Design Redesigned by Joshua Geiger, 1981

Because we were re-branding another designer, I figured I would re-design "Down with Design" instead of the requested "Gareth Hardy". I just figured it would be nicer to see a different take on the same concept instead of a totally different concept all-together. I wanted to use a bold, memorable mark that was relevant to the idea of simple, clean design. I created a stylized "D", laid it "down" on it's side, and literally went "down with the design". The vertical lines could represent the 3d structure of the "D" or double as runs in paint.
1. Gareth Hardy
2. Nope
3. Professional, illustrator, clever, modern
4. Nope, complete creative freedom
5. Corporate Start-ups and small to mid sized established businesses
6. Nope, complete freedom :)

CobaltCow Redesigned by Yossi Belkin (Yossi Graphic Design)
CobaltCow Redesigned by Yossi Belkin, Yossi Graphic Design

No description provided
1. CobaltCow or Cobalt Cow
2. I am currently using 'Brand Development' but whatever works. Since the name is vague it probably needs something to explain it a little.
3. Clean, Modern, Simple, Memorable (as in easy to remember)
4. 'Cobalt' is blue, bit nothing specific. I tend to go with lighter colors, but again whatever works.
5. Ideal client is 30-45 person starting a new business or taking their existing business to a professional brand. I tent to market to the middle-upper market, and not the budget seekers.
6. I guess a cow (of some kind) would be the obvious inclusion.

OcularInk Redesigned by Jared Lunde
OcularInk Redesigned by Jared Lunde

Kevin wanted a simple, professional and unique logo so that's what I tried to deliver. The mark is a combination of glasses, an ink droplet and a face. For the type I used a modified Girard Slab serif which I think matches the mark pretty well and also is a bit unique on it's own. I stuck with a similar color palette to the one that he uses because let's face it, real men wear pink.
1. Ocular Ink or ocular ink
2. No
3. professional, simple, and unique, memorable
4. No
5. Business professionals ages 18 - 45, Entrepreneurs
6. No

Contemporary Native Redesigned by Sneh Roy (Little Box of Ideas)
Contemporary Native Redesigned by Sneh Roy, Little Box of Ideas

Working on the existing logo, I decided to take the Medicinal Wheel from there and making it into a powerful mark that was modern yet adhered to the Lakota principles and beliefs. The Medicinal Wheel is a deeply philosophical symbol with many beliefs hidden in the way it is conceived. Above all it is a symbol of complete balance, perfection and wholeness that forms the core of our consciousness. A symbol of extreme power. I made it 3D to give it depth and strength. I used the 4 colors traditionally used in the Wheel that also depict the four directions … white, yellow, red and black. I separated the mark and the type so they could be used mutually or exclusively as desired. The type I chose was “Belizio”. It is a modern, traditional typeface that is very strong and performs well in smaller sizes too. I made the word “Native” the focus of attention, tying the weight of the type to the weight of the wheel. Option 1 Option 2.
1. Contemporary Native
2. No
3. NDN, Life, Modern, Simple
4. Not really
5. Business Owners (traditional, moderate, thinkers)
6. Something specific to Lakota

Sonata Creative by Kevin Burr (Ocular Ink)
Sonata Creative Redesigned by Kevin Burr, Ocular Ink

Sonata Creative isn't just a graphic design firm, they do it all! Everything from Print and Web design to Video. The new logo for Sonata Creative is sleek, creative, consistent, and symmetrical. The mark incorporates a hidden letter 'S' built from four shapes. These four shapes evoke the different avenues of design Sonata Creative offers.

Siah Design by Neil T. McDonald (NTM Design)
Siah Design Redesigned by Neil T. McDonald, NTM Design

Being very aware of Josiah's own logo and how effective it works at describing his work and personality, I decided to approach this project as a more personal mark for Josiah. Im aware that Josiah is a very spiritual chap and also very musical - recently having been gifted a stand up base. This was something I wanted to include within the logo. Deciding on a typographic logo as the name 'Siah' is very memorable and choosing to omit 'design' (my bad) for this reason. So I created an 'S' that would purposely evoke the spiritual side of Josiah along with the musical side - the 'S' also being representational of the F-hole that is found upon a stand up base. So creating a ligature connecting the 'S' (spirit/music) to the small 'i' which in itself represents Josiah (the 'i' being oneself) this hopefully creates a sense of purpose and is reflective of Josiah's character. I also chose to keep the mark quite organic looking as Josiah had asked for organic colours, but as this is a typographic mark I did not feel colour was needed.
1. Siah Design
2. no
3. Creativity
4. Organic colors
5. Companies that need to be branded/rebranded.
6. Open to ideas :)


Euan said...

awesome! really interesting idea :)

Brandon Cox said...

Nathan, this was tremendous fun to participate in. Talk about nervous - branding another brander! And I really liked the feedback on my own original logo - very helpful. Awesome idea you had there!

Nathan Sarlow said...

To be honest I wasn't sure if any of the full time branders would be willing to dedicate the time and effort to an article, so it was greatly appreciated.

I've had some interest from some designers that missed this round, so I may run another round soon.

Tabitha Kristen said...

Very cool!

Kevin Burr said...

I enjoyed reading through each of these re-brands. Very exciting post, Nathan. Glad I could be a part of it. Cheers!

Fabian said...

I was stoked when I heard I was doing one for Jared, great guy and designer..hope I did you justice bro:) Hey thanks Josiah, I like what you did with mine:D

Daniel Hunninghake said...

such a great idea. Won't find an article like this anywhere else!

Tabitha Kristen said...

I've decided my favorite is "Brandsimplicity Redesigned by Josiah Jost, Siah Design". The mark definitely portrays "simplicity" and is very effective. Great job!

Internet Strategist @GrowMap said...

These are really interesting and in most cases I like the new design best and in others the original. I wish there were a way to vote on each design by putting a check next to the one you like best. I suspect the logo owners would find that type of feedback interesting.

Unfortunately I do not happen to know of a plugin or other way to add that specific functionality - yet.

Jared Lunde said...

Thanks for inviting me to participate, Nathan. This was an extremely fun challenge.

Nathan Sarlow said...

Strategist: Since most designers had limited time and didn't have an opportunity to actually interview the client I'm not sure a review of that depth would actually be useful, but maybe interesting.

To be fair, this was more of a 'logo' snapshot exercise, and probably not so much a brand exercise given the time and information restrictions.

Stephen Olmstead said...

This was a great idea and a blast to participate in- thanks Nathan! Love Kevin's take on my logo- very inspiring. :)

Sean Farrell said...

haha nice! i especially like jareds remake of fabians, way to go man. I really enjoyed Brandon Cox's/E grace remake of Sneh's! I like it alot!

Others I really liked were siah's remake by neil, Josh's remake of Gareths.

Josiah J. said...

Really fun to participate in this! Thanks for organizing, Nathan. A lot of people did a really great job.

Really liked your version and thinking behind my logo, Neil. Awesome :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome. What a great glimpse into the creativity behind many of these great designers. Loved it, great job!!

Sneh | LBOI Blog said...

Wow! What a fun post! Thanks for doing this Nathan, nicely done :-) and for including me amongst this fun bunch of peeps!

Brandon, you've done a wonderful job .. made my logo look bright and fun and creative! I loved how you've explained your thought process behind it. Thank you very much :-)

Alisa Rogers said...

A good collection. I would say that just use the one that you need, I think the author not really want you to use everything here, we all know that we have our own style, we use different tools to design those tools we are comfortable using. This is just a variety of tools that maybe one of these are your must-have-tools.

Neil T.McDonald said...

Great job on my rebrand Nathan, you hit on a really interesting combination with those letters! Thanks so much for the inclusion, was a real fun idea and loved participating. Good to see the thinking behind each logo, and everyone did a sweet job!

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