I’ve been promising posts on design work for awhile and today I’d like to share a design project from this past fall. It’s an interesting case study and a good example of my logo design process and how I collaborate with a client to arrive at their best solution.
Process is more important than the finished product, in many ways. A final design is the product of many variables, from client input (or, ahem, the input of many clients) to research and industry knowledge. The list is long. Point being the best solution for a client may not be the stunning logo full of rock-star design mojo, glitter, and unicorn dandruff we envisioned while slaving over our t-squares and rapidograph pens way back in art school. Design is work and that means putting our egos (and portfolios) aside and getting down to the business of creating for (and with) the client.
It follows that good clients lead to good work. A designer can’t magically produce the perfect solution without quality input and honest feedback. (This is one reason why spec work is insane.) I mention all this because today’s example involves a client, my friend Rebecca Mann, who came to the process with plenty of ideas and input. Rebecca works in the non-profit sector as an consultant, advocate and organizer and this fall she was starting Engage NC, a company that works with nonprofits to engage community members, donors, and decision-makers. As our story beings, she was ready to brand her new venture.
FINDING A CONCEPT
Her focused, hands-on approach sets her apart from more impersonal consulting groups. Rebecca wanted her new company’s logo to reflect her personality as well as the personal level of the Engage NC approach. She came to our kick-off discussion armed with lots of examples of what she liked –a stylistic mood board for Engage NC’s brand, if you will. Rebecca’s fabulous personal style is heavily influenced by design of the 40’s and 50’s and her “moodboard” reflected that. We talked about why she liked each piece she’d brought to share and about what she wanted Engage NC’s logo to communicate. Some relevant phrases were: experienced, warm and approachable, bringing people together, sparking interaction and engagement, discovering and leveraging unrecognized potential, and positive forward movement.
A great start! My next step was to explore how these visual elements might be made to clearly reflect what Engage NC is. I spent time sketching, researching and brainstorming. This is one of my favorite parts of the process. The more time to explore in this stage the better the end result is.
After brainstorming and sketching, I take the ideas I hope will work the best to the next stage–the computer — and create digital sketches, making further refinements and typography exploration, until I’ve arrived at several logo designs showing a range of solutions that fit with my understanding of client needs and expectations. Often in the process this first round of designs is a bit broad, but it depends on the project and the client. Here you can see just a few of the designs presented in the first round of this project.
PRESENTING INITIAL THOUGHTS
After presenting and discussing the first round of logo designs, I work with the client to narrow focus and refine the design in stages till we arrive at a final logo. In this case, Rebecca liked elements of several different designs related to the “burst” graphic. We both agreed that direction did a great job of showing the energetic and connected nature of Engage NC. I combined and refined several designs based on Rebecca’s feedback and eventually we arrived at the right design for Engage NC. Below is a quick overview of that refinement process.
And after some back and forth, we arrived at a final logo design. Clean, modern, approachable, and most important of all — engaging. The final logo reflects both Rebecca’s personal approach and the energetic, professional, positive force of Engage NC.
So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into my design process with this case study. It may seem like a lot of thought and time spent on something so small, but a logo is really a signature or a fingerprint. It says a lot about your business and it’s well worth the time and effort to insure your logo’s communicating the right things about you and your business.