Friday, April 29, 2005


I have a design presentation to a big client in 30 minutes so I thought I'd write about part of what I do for a living.

One of the things my company does is creating brand identity. The most obvious expression of this is the company's logo, but it also involves analysis of positioning and character.

Designing a trademark is a multi-step process for us.

We begin with the brief, ask a ton of questions, then engage in multiple brainstorming sessions.

Next, my designers explore general shapes, looks, feels and attitudes - no color yet (that comes much later).

Then I let them loose and they generate tons of logos, playing with form and fontology (the choice of font used for words in a logotype are just as important as other design elements).

All of these studies are presented to me in black and white. Each designer defends or explains the rationale, articulating the creative decisions he made. I wrestle with them and select a number that make sense.

The ones I choose (wearing my hat as Creative Director) are then broken down into their component parts, with each part given a board and a name.

During my presentation to client, I show them each logo study's component boards in this order:

1. The name of the study - this permits me to anchor the discussion and focus the client's attention on what this study is all about. I am unpredictable in my naming conventions, calling studies everything from "Kundalini" to "Imperator" to "Fuzzy Wuzzy".

2. The master design element - this is the "swoosh" in Nike, the star in Caltex, the invisible arrow in FedEx. This is the design anchor, if it exists. I explain the reasons behind this particular element, what it means and may mean, why it is of interest.

3. The full logo - this is the complete logotype.

All the studies are in black and white because my design philosophy is that a logo must work in black and white.

The choice of colors come after the client decides which logo study is most interesting or apropos. Color studies of the selected logo/s are another presentation, requiring knowledge of color theory and a combination of common sense and the occasional foray into esoteric blah blah.

Once color has been approved, we prepare the Logo Standards Manual. This document tells the client (and their future suppliers) about all the logo applications (how to apply the logo on letterhead, business cards, t-shirts, posters, mugs, signage, etc.), logo violations (misuse of elements, color or font), and more.

Once everything is complete and approved, then the branding exercise is done.


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