For a detail-obsessed designer, I can’t image a more daunting assignment to confront than designing something for yourself. Such was the case when it came time to tackle my studio’s logo; both in 2000 when it was formed, and in 2014 when I took on the task of a redesign.
Before we discuss the process of the new design, let’s first take a trip back to 2000. Having somehow managed to survive the Y2K apocalypse, I dusted off the ashes of the end of the world and began working on a logo for my new freelance business. My concepts focused on the first step in my creative process: sketching, an area that can differentiate me from some designers.
I will always love the logo I created in 2000. A fun, quirky-styled little character design of an illustrator in the process of brainstorming and sketching. But there were two primary issues with this logo: 1) it’s incredibly inflexible to its environment (ex: it’ll only work on white, or light, backgrounds), and 2) it’s positioning was a little too playful for the types of projects and companies that were commissioning me.
As time passed and I continued to use the logo, I was concerned an abrupt change might lose some recognition in my marketing. So in 2011, I evolved the logo slightly by phasing out the character and focusing on the red-orange fireball and gear. This small change brought some relief to the inflexibility issue, but it didn’t eliminate another problem I had with the logo: the gear.
The use of a gear was originally a much smaller component of the logo–certainly not meant to become the primary focus. In 2000, a gear icon wasn’t a necessarily bad, but since then it’s become an overused symbol typically associated with older technology. I was never a big fan of the gear, but I did like the logo overall, particularly the energy of fireball. Still, I’ve known for a quite a while I wanted a new logo.
It probably wouldn’t be incorrect to say I began sketching ideas for the new logo back in 2012, but it didn’t really start picking up momentum until early 2014. When you look through some of the sketches posted here, you can see I pursued all sorts of concepts–my mind was all over the place. There were, however, directions I kept coming back to and exploring: 1) a logo mark that depicted me, and 2) a logo mark with a pencil or flames that conveyed my passion for drawing.
I tend to wear a cap a lot. Not because I necessarily love caps, it’s just faster and easier to skip styling my hair in the morning so I can jump into the office and get my day started. So as you look through these sketches, you’ll notice a bunch of ideas with a guy, a cap and a pencil. Throw a cup of coffee in my hand and there couldn’t be a more accurate self-portrait.
Using a pencil icon in the logo carried the same risks as the original gear problem: a symbol that’s been used a lot and another subject of “old” technology. On the other hand, the pencil is such a big part of my creative process right? This is where I kept going around in circles with moments where I’d rebel and pursue some very out-of-the-box concepts (animals, dragons, cowboys, birds, etc.).
I did love the idea of a little dragon character that (very subtly) formed a letter F, but unfortunately the concept was too left field to represent the studio. Plus, besides the fact I love HBO’s Game of Thrones series, there’s really nothing connecting me to a dragon.
At this point I turned to professional help in the form of asking designer friends for their feedback & thoughts. I needed some fresh, outside perspectives. (Thank you Inka Mathew!)
The direction that would eventually become the final logo was one that evolved A LOT before it came together. If you look at the sketches you’ll see quite a number of thumbnails depicting a pencil drawing flames and forming a letter C. In the bottom-right, I grouped the sketches that started to close in on the final logo.
On the surface, the final logo is simply a monogram C with flames. But what designer doesn’t love to talk about all the subtle concept layers no one’s ever going to notice? So, with that, here’s a few messages I baked into the logo:
Speed. Working as a resource for agencies & publications means getting projects that need to get completed quick! The logo depicts a mark in motion, at hand and ready to go.
Craftsmanship. Using the style treatment of a line stroke suggests the creation of a mark, both what it first looks like as a sketch and the wireframe as you build its form.
Passion. I love what I do. The fire in the logo directly communicates my excitement for each and every project, my obsessive attention to detail and fun along the way.
I’m very happy with the final result and really hope you like it! As with anything else, the harder the journey the sweeter it feels finally reaching your destination.