Anatomy of a logo design


I would like to express a sincere thank you to Mash and the design team at SpellBrand, for the great job on our new company Logo, and business card design and stationery design. Everyone who has seen the result is very impressed. It is very satisfying to work with such a professional design team, through many rounds of revisions, and to achieve such outstanding results. Great job! Excellent customer service! We will highly recommend your services to anyone looking for professional results. Brian Wilson, Captain Electric Inc

The Beginning…

18th March 2005 2:45 PM

A tear rolled down my cheek as I glared at the computer screen intently. I had been glaring at it for the past 20 minutes. I was working on creating a stream illustration for a logo design and wwhateverI did I still ended up with a very fat file. I was staring at the screen in the hope that an idea would pop up that would allow me to use simple lines and yet achieve the same visual clarity.

The phone on my desk rang. “Hello, Mash here, how can I help you today?”, I said, welcoming the distraction.

“Hi Mash, my name is Brian Wilson and I am looking to get a logo design for our company.”, said Brian on the other end, sounding a little nervous.

“Sure, Brian.”, I said, “We have plenty of experience in creating logo designs and I am sure we can help you create yours.”

“Ok. my company name is “Captain Electric” and we are based in Ontario, Canada.”, said Brian.

“Ok. And what do you guys do?”, I asked.

“We provide domestic electrical services including repairs and installation.”

“Ok. And what is your main medium of advertising? I mean, where will your logo be seen the most?”

“On stationery and the side of our vans.”, said Brian, wondering where this line of questioning was leading to. “I would like to know more about how your process works.”, he went on.

I took a deep breath and went into explaining how our logo design process worked. After a few more questions Brian said he would think about it and sign up if he and his brother Dave decided to go with us.

18th March 2005 5:30 PM

I had successfully modified a shape to make it look like a stream without using too many layers or masks and was pleased with myself. What I needed was a coffee break.

Suddenly an alert popped on my screen. I had been assigned a new logo design project. I double clicked to see who the client and saw that it was Brian of Captain Electric. I smiled. It was nice talking to Brian. He sounded like an intelligent man who knew the importance of getting a good company logo design.

After the short coffee break, I opened the Captain Electric project in our project management system and read through the details. Apparently, Brian and his brother Dave owned and operated this company and were changing its name from “Nova Electrical” to “Captain Electric”. They needed a new logo to go with the new name and possibly some stationery and a new website.

I read through the project requirements section and found that Brian wanted something catchy to go with the catchy name. Maybe showing movement on lettering? He did not want us to use lightning bolts or zaps, Canadian flag or an American flag.

They also wanted their company slogan ” To Serve and Connect ” somehow built into the company logo.

The Conceptual Phase

19th March 2005 10:15 AM

I initiated the Captain Electric Logo Design project and decided to assign Viktor to the project (since this was a platinum logo design package). Viktor, also a lead designer, had been with SpellBrand since 2001. A very talented logo designer, his strength was conceptualization. I also assigned Laurie to the project for more creative ideas. Normally we assign only 2 designers for a professional logo design project, but for this project I wanted one more designer to help us with the brainstorming phase.

I passed copies of the project brief to Viktor and Laurie as we sat at the conference table in the “Newton” brainstorming room. Our office used to have 4 meeting rooms and each was named after a great inventor – Newton, Edison, Morse, and Bell.

Our initial discussion centered around coming up with an super hero kind of character for this logo since the name had a superhero kind of feel to it. But then the client did not want to go into that since he felt it would prove to be expensive to promote such a character at this stage. He wanted to get a mascot design later on down the line.

So we went into a different line of thought. This time we started discussing the “captain” concept. How can we represent a captain, presumably an air force captain, since the client did indicate he might like that direction. So I called Brian and told him about this new direction.

He was immediately excited and said, “I was thinking along the same lines. In fact, I really think to have some kind of a winged emblem would really well. What do you think?”. UPDATE: This new client came to us inspired by the design we did for Brian.

19th March 2005 02:22 PM

Here is a rough hand drawing of the “wing emblem” concept.

Hand Drawn Sketch Concept

21st March 2005 10:37 AM

So we came up with the “wings” concept direction. Here is the result of the first round of concepts:

I posted these concepts on the studio floor (an online section of our website where clients can log in to see their logo design projects in progress and interact with the logo designer) 8 concepts for the platinum logo design package.

21st March 2005 12:18 PM

I got a call from Brian. He was jubilant.

“These concepts are excellent, Mash!”, he said. “Way better than what I had expected. I will show these to my brother and a few other friends and will get back to you with some feedback.”

The Revision Phase

21st March 2005 7:15 PM

An alert on my desktop told me that Brian of Captain Electric project had posted a comment and change request for logo design revisions. I opened the project and reviewed the comments.

The gist of the feedback was that even though he was totally committed to the “air force wing” concept, Dave, Brian’s brother was not really keen on it. They did however like one of the concepts (#8) and wanted us to use that as a base to build on the next round of logo design concepts.

Moving ahead with the logo design revision phase, Brian wanted us to use #8 and then turn it into some kind of a superhero shield (not a superhero character but a kind of shield that someone like Captain America might use). The thought process behind this was that this company would server and connect much like how the local law enforcement would say “To server and protect”.

22nd March 2005 10:22 AM

It was raining outside and I had come in late due to the traffic jam resulting from the downpour. I guess it was raining most of the night and the roads were quite wet and slippery. Viktor, as usual, was in around 7:30 or so and had played around with some ideas for the Captain Electric project. I poured a couple of cups of coffee, booked the smaller meeting room, Morse Room, and invited Viktor to join me.

After sipping coffee and having a little small talk about the miserable weather, Viktor quickly loaded up the concepts he was playing around with on the huge plasma screen, via his laptop. I liked the direction he was taking. A simple triangular shape to be used as the base logo icon, which would then be superimposed on logo design concept #8. We discussed a few more minutes and then decided to go for this logo creation direction.

22nd March 2005 5:16 PM

Viktor submitted his logo design revisions for the Captain Electric project. I was working on a restaurant logo design project for a South Carolina Logo Design client. I had just completed the initial concepts phase and uploaded the logo design concepts on to the studio floor.

I then opened the revisions that Viktor has submitted on the Captain Electric Logo Design Project and after making a few modifications uploaded them:

The Refining Phase

23rd March 2005 09:45 AM

Very pleasant day. The sun is up and I got to office with out any hassles. I started my day answering a few emails and assigning a few projects to my logo design team members. Because we operate online, we get projects from all over the world and due to the time differences it is very common to come into office in the mornings and find that several logo design orders had come in during the night. It is quite a nice feeling to see that.

I checked my schedule and my alerts to see that Brian of “Captain Electric” project had posted some comments on logo design revision round 1. I opened the project and reviewed the comments.

Essentially Dave and Brian both liked logo design revision #2.4. They both felt that the wings were just making the logo look too busy and felt that the clean cut look of the logo icon in #2.4 would suit their image better. They loved this new logo design concept and wanted us to build on it. Brian really liked the metallic look and wanted us to try the NAME in different metallic colors, maybe silver / stainless steel, and a light-gun metal. He also felt that the NAME could be easier to read if the outline was a little bolder.

Both Dave and Brian thought the banner (To Serve and Connect) is really good as it was (classic – in dark blue with lettering the same color as the Name) and wanted to see the #2.4 logo design with the different metallic colors, the banner lettering should be the same as the name color.

Logo Design Refinement: Over the next few days we presented Brian with the following logo design revisions:

Dave and Brian liked 3.1 and wanted to proceed with that logo direction. Here was the feedback:

1. I do like logo design concept 3.1, but can you make it easier to read? When you look at 3.3 from a few feet away it is definitely easier to read than 3.1 – it appears that the outline is darker, which distinguishes the letters better. Can you try something with 3.1 to help? Not putting an outline around it – but thickening the line.

2. How about adjusting the reflection line that runs through the middle of the logo – try lowering or raising this shading line, or try some variations on the blue – maybe slightly darker, whatever.

3. How about a version without the shading line. I realize that shading gives it the chrome look and I really like it with the shading, but in your experience – will it be easy to embroider on shirts and jackets with shading – or do we have to drop the shading when embroidering?

4. We need to know how it will print in black and white. Our Yellow pages and will be black – no color. And also how it will look on documents in black and white, for fax and invoices.

5. Our logo design t-shirts will be white (some might be black) and our jackets are black. Can you show us 3.1 on a black background ?

After another round of edit requests, we finally got the logo elements just right both on a white background and black background.

corporate identity creation

9th April 2005 1:45 AM

We had wrapped up the logo design project for Captain Electric. Brian and Dave were both happy and had sent us a wonderful testimonial. As I was munching on my sandwich the phone rang.

“Hi Mash!”, said Brian. “Remember me?”.

“Of course I do Brian.”, I replied. “How are ya?”.

“Doing quite well, thank you.”, Brian replied. “In fact, we are ready to continue the project with you. We are looking for some kick-ass stationery designs and also a website design.”

“Good news”, I said, genuinely pleased at another opportunity to work with Brian.

A couple of hours later I was reading the stationery design project brief for Captain Electric. Brian wanted to see designs that had lots of white space in them so that the logo will be visible clearly and would stand out. He also wanted us to design a referral card for them.

I played around with a few ideas and drew a few sketches to how best to layout the business card design, letterhead design, and the envelope design.

11th April 2005 10:22 AM

I had completed the stationery design concepts for Captain Electric and posted them.

11th April 2005 5:41 PM

Brian called me to say that stationery design concept #3 was a clear winner. He had a few minor changes he wanted made including changes to the address, phone numbers layout and a couple of design elements. After the stationery was completed we also designed and launched a website for Brian.