Case Study: Designing a Logo for a Startup

Logos can be tricky beasts to design, especially for a start-up. You have to understand the client’s needs, their products and services, and the personality they want to project to their customers, and then figure out a way to graphically represent all of this in a single mark.

Experienced logo designers, like Tracy Sabin, understand the nuances inherent in this process, and what it takes to come up with a compelling design that resonates with his clients’ customers.

With more than 40 years of logo design experience under his belt, Sabin’s hand-crafted style and attention to detail bring his logo designs to life. Recently he was hired by Steve Falen, art director at Partners Creative, to design a logo for their client, Fenek Outdoor.

Fenek is a new, start up company created by two longtime outdoor product sales representatives. They make hunting blinds, carts, and other accessories for avid outdoorsmen. The name is derived from the Fennec Fox, which inhabits the Sahara Desert.

“It’s the world’s smallest fox living in one of the world’s harshest environments, and its oversized ears and fast reflexes exemplify the company’s emphasis on listening and being responsive to customers and their needs,” Falen explains. “The change in spelling is an association with the fox, but also a unique brandable handle.”


Falen’s directive to Sabin was to design a mark that features a fox that “isn’t cute or cuddly, but rather agile and intense.” The logo also needed to include the name, and it had to be simple so it could be embroidered on sportswear. Sabin got to work using photo references provided by Falen, as well as taking a few days to do his own research of the fox.

He always starts the process with pencil sketches, doing several versions to present to clients. “Once I had a good range of reference showing a Fennec Fox in various poses, I produced pencil sheets and sent them to Steve,” he says.


The pencils were shared with the client and five directions were chosen for workups. Falen indicated that they’d like to stick to the warm colors and font styles that Sabin had included. In Adobe Illustrator, Sabin did more detailed workups of the chosen images. The client liked the fox from one workup, and the typeface from another.



“I enjoy working with firms like Partners Creative because they skillfully assess their clients and present me with a clear branding strategy. That allows me to focus on my piece of the puzzle, developing the pictorial part of the logo,” says Sabin.

Emily Potts FOLLOW >

Emily J. Potts has been a writer and editor in the design industry for more than 20 years. Currently she is an independent writer working for a variety of clients in the design industry.