How to Design Brand Identity: Showing the Client
So from these, I go through, once they kind of get to a form that's a little bit tighter, a little bit more refined, than sort of the rough brush or the rough sketch where I've actually started to think about how large is this part and how much space is there, but not so developed that I'm really kind of refining it to its end point. I make a selection and edit down to fewer candidates. Typically, and so of course the ones with the checks are the ones that I decided to show, and the ones that are X are the ones that I decided not to show, for a variety of reasons. Usually it's a good idea to limit the number of concepts for anything that you show a client, because they become confused very quickly, and suddenly, when there are a lot of options on the table, they begin to want to do the same thing that you as a designer want to do, which is to make combinations of things, which is sometimes referred to as frankensteining, which tends to kind of dilute the idea. And ideas at this stage a...
re not intended to be perceived as final designs. These are essentially capturing a concept in a form that's clear enough and defined enough to be able to understand, and to see its potential as well as its potential limitations in a kind of a first presentation. I usually limit the number of concepts that I show a client to three or five. At that point, there's kind of a threshold that you don't really wanna cross, but in this case, I showed more. I was very... I was pleased with a lot of the directions, and because they were so varied, they presented so many nuances, or possibilities for nuance in the way that the client might project herself to her market. And I really needed that kind of feedback in order to know which one of these kinds of feelings, these ideas, is really the best one as you see it. So after that, I made a presentation. Whenever I present a logo, I first present it in sort of a black and white form so color is not an issue. Clients can get thrown by color very quickly. So if they don't happen to like green and the logo is in green, it might be the absolute best mark in the world, but because it's green, they're just gonna throw it off the table. So always black and white, generally paired with a quick thought about the type. No intention of that being the final thing. I picked something that seemed to have a nice relationship of contrast and scale. I always show the mark, also, in a kind of credible context, that is, reduced to fit the size of an actual business card, because one of the things that a logo has to do is to be completely recognizable without any sacrifice of information, any degradation to its form, both at a large size and at a very small size. And also, to a certain degree, in very, very coarse media. You know, when you buy an ad in a glossy magazine, you're dealing with high quality printing, with quality control. When you buy an ad in a local newspaper, which could often be the case, you're dealing with low quality paper in which ink bleeds a lot through the fibers where the reproduction might not be so great and you begin to lose information. So a certain kind of robustness, a certain kind of separation of parts is really necessary to allow the image form to reduce to a very, very small size and to show up in very coarse kinds of resolution, whether it's on screen or it's on toilet paper, you should be able to see every element in that mark without any question. So these are they, these are the refined versions. Just showing a variety of lockups. And by lockup, I mean the specific configuration between the image form, which is the symbol, or the signet, and its typographic component, which will always have to be accompanying it. So these are just a number of these, and you'll have seen these all before, some with some modification. And as you go through these, you begin to notice certain kinds of limitations or possibilities for problems that could occur. If I go back to say, this one, in the way that I've sized the mark relative to the type, what used to be a very, very sort of concise sort of focused moment begins to kind of spread out. So now this whole form, in this particular configuration, is creating a very wide horizontal kind of proportion that could become unwieldy if, for example, I need to get it at a pretty large size into a confined space. So those kinds of things begin to reveal themselves as you start to make decisions, even if they're very rough and sort of unstudied decisions, you begin to know certain things. This mark will only function with centered typography under it, for example, in the way that it is right now. And so you learn these things, and part of that learning process is what you're sharing with the client when you're talking to them and you say, I noticed this about this, so if you're interested in this particular direction, there are some things that we might have to do to accommodate or to solve for potential problems down the road. Here is a version using more hard-edged kind of graphical configuration of patterns and textures that could be noodles, rice, beans, corn, nuggets, kernels. Nugget is one of my favorite words, and I substitute it for many things. Here, the lotus, again, this time with the spoon. A lotus by itself seemed entirely a little bit too spa-like, a little bit too spiritual and the connection to the cooking seemed a little bit odd. Here's that. That one was a quick edit out. You notice, when you're in the first presentation, you've worked at kind of refining these things to a certain point, and you're basically comfortable with any of them, and you have to be and you should be. Don't ever show a client anything that you would not be happy having coming barking back home at you on a different day. Because invariably they will pick that one, and then you have to deal with it, and then you have to tell them why you don't recommend it. I just stuck it in to make it look like I had done more work. Don't show it if you're not really confident in it, or confident in its potential, don't even pull it out. This one, so when you get to that situation, you look at them in comparison, it becomes very easy and very quick to kind of make decisions, you look at things and certain things jump out, and the other ones go away. So these are a bunch of others. This is an evolution of the fork as tree idea. This is just another with the large sort of decorative letter form. And there's that, the G. There with the sort of Victorian cooking tin kind of typography and using engraving, actually, within the image, and we had a thought that whether for products down the road or even just in different circumstances, the actual engraved subject matter could actually change. Sometimes it could be a wheelbarrow, sometimes it could be an eggplant, sometimes it could be a lettuce, in this case, it's a turnip. And then so that brings us to refining, because we focused on two. So, theoretically, you wanna focus on one in order to move forward, but these two really kind of spoke to both us and to the client in particular, and so we thought it would be a good idea to sort of take them through a second round of refinement and to see what really kind of ended out. That refinement went on for a couple of weeks. These are just some of about 150 different variations in that particular mark, with more or fewer spoons, with the spoons cut off or the handles of them revealed, staggered, staggering at different heights along a baseline, sometimes with a curved linear kind of environment, or cut out along the bottom, a centered axis, asymmetrical setting, different kinds of asymmetrical shapes being made by the type, with graphical supporting elements or not. It was a wide ranging study. And you have to really go through that kind of a study in-depth to really know what the possibilities are. You're testing to find out what can be the best solution, if there can be such a thing. Theoretically, yeah, sure, we could have picked this one, that would've been fine. Would've been fine, not the best. Narrowed it down to basically three versions, where we just looked at a difference in typeface between them, so enclosing it in a circle brought some of the contrast from the interior to the outside and gave it a little bit of a protection and also created a much more sort of concise form. Just looking at it with the curved form underneath, and here, a slightly different curve, and different sort of configurations with type. The only thing that changes between these two rows is the typeface itself. Here, a kind of a hybrid serif, sans serif, that's got some very, very sharp detailing that calls attention to the thins and thicks of lines and masses in the mark. Here, something which is much more contemporary, has some organic qualities in the curves, especially in the bowl and the way that the ending points of the strokes are shaped, and being all one uniform weight provides a much simpler sort of cleaner configuration. And so that was how that one ended up.
Could you talk, for a second, about the alignment of the text with the mark? Because they're all sort of offset.
Yeah, so first of all, as I've mentioned before, I think I've mentioned before, how symmetry can be a little bit dangerous. And symmetry, to me is also... I mean, I've mellowed in my old age. I used to say that symmetry was the work of the devil. Philosophically, I am still relatively opposed to it. It's an old, it's an archaic, historical, classical kind of configuration for things, and it prevents, sometimes, creating specific relationships that are better relationships than are achievable with a symmetrical configuration, especially when you're dealing with information. So I really looked to be able to create a shape out of the type that is as noticeable and is somehow integrated in its form with the mark as a composition, 'cause these two things, they are a composition. Even though they're not in a particular format is that they have this internal life, this dialogue that you can't escape from. They're always gonna be seen together. And so the relationships have to be really, really as specific as possible. So the asymmetry takes away this kind of default quality that I often find in symmetry. And then what I'm looking at is kind of movements of things. When it's two lines, there's a certain kind of a shape, a contour, a relationship of long to short, and in the alignment here, for example, the aligned edge is connecting to this strong vertical. So by connecting to the right hand vertical, the mark is actually kind of anchored to the end of the type and you get a little bit more of a free entry here rather than kind of blocking off the visual entry into the mark from the left if the type were aligning on the left. Here, the same thing, or a similar kind of a situation is that this curve leads to the bottom stroke of the N. So all of the ending points of the spoon trees create a kind of an optical curve, a literal curve, and so the position of the N was the first thing that I looked at, is that you kind of come over the hill and land at a solid point. And at the same time, the G is positioned in such a way that because of the spacing between the words that the G is actually repeating the size and proportion of the spoon, the rows of spoons next to it. In this case, this was simply this configuration but without the circle, and sort of the same thing. So those internal relationships between the text element, that is, the word mark, and the monogram, or the signet, really depend on those specific elements. What's in them, and what are they made of, and where are their structural focal points? Where are their axes? Where is their mass, and how does that mass work? How is it moving through that text? What kind of shape does this thing make? What is this shape about, and how does this shape relate to this shape, if it does? Went through the same process with the fork tree, looking at it with different weights, different line weights and thicknesses. Some different configurations of the root system, which I ultimately ended up linking to the exterior bounding box that holds it. And again, looking at the typeface configurations, is the type resting on the horizon? Is it floating above? Is Good Natured gonna be separated from Cooking as a kind of an idea? Or are we going to refer to the company as Good Natured Cooking as a continuous thought or unit? Started looking at creating other kinds of forms for the ending shape. The terminal shape of the fork up above inside the box, outside the box, completely contained, then there were another 150 or so of those.
Did you have a favorite on your own between this and that?
Yes and no. Ultimately, yes I did. But I was actually very excited about both options, and did feel very sad, kind of separation anxiety, from the one that got discarded. In the end, there can be only one. Which is the painful part. So that also came down to basically six versions. These are really just, it's the same typeface, what's changing here is the relationship of this hyphen as a graphical element that draws this form outward into the type, because it's a big honking chunk of type to put next to this thing. So trying to get it to talk to the other was quite a challenge. Ultimately, it was this one. This one won. And I was glad, and this is actually the type configuration. So with the type low, it created too much of a kind of static angle and enclosure and the space underneath became really self-conscious. So there was so much visual activity concentrated along the outer contours, or the outer perimeter of the mark and type as a unit, if it was actually able to fit in there, it got very stiff and almost a little bit cold, off-putting, very kind of flat. So by shifting the two elements off of each other, you introduce this kind of unexpected movement, a little bit of lightness. It also allowed me to get the type larger in size relative to the size of the mark so that the mark could be reduced a little bit more. It is a very, very delicate mark, but it holds up this, it holds up absolutely cleanly at a size of just under a half-inch tall, which is as small as I ever need to get it. And then this evolution is what really happened after is that it became a solid. So that, again, the focus now, then, is on the mark itself. The type is, it's sort of trying to minimize how big the type is and how much of it there is so that the mark is not really fighting against it but really has pride of place, and the type becomes a kind of signature or a sign-off. I began to look at color in a kind of a rough way, but I got distracted by other things, so I came back to it. And I actually went through 10 or 12 different color schemes as I was even designing the applications which we're gonna look at later. It just was not coming to me. Of course, I went for greens and browns and olives, you know, these sort of earth tones, and as sort of intuitively, and then, I had thought, of course, you're operating in that kind of realm, so it sort of makes sense to go there, at least to look at it. But it was so commonplace that the mark began... Because I would take some of these studies and actually put them next to other logos of similar kinds, and look at how it disappeared or stood out, and that's another kind of a test that you want to take the logo through in order to see, well in this kind of competitive environment, does it stand up?