The Anatomy of a Logo Part 1: Creation

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The Anatomy of a Logo Part 1: Creation

What makes a good logo? It’s a question that anyone with an inkling of interest in graphic design has asked. To quote our CMO Brian, “A logo should be the visualization of your brand’s core message.” But how do you get from a blank sheet of paper/Illustrator template to an iconic symbol of your brand’s legacy? We’re going to dive right in by looking at the creative process this week, and follow up with evaluation next week.  

There’s a big difference between knowing quality and creating quality. For example, I know The Godfather is a great movie, but that doesn’t mean I can go out and film a masterpiece. Where do you start? Well, the creative process is different for everyone, but we’ve broken down the core considerations into five pieces:


Company Name

What does it represent, why did they choose it?

Research symbolic and historical associations with that name, and try appropriating the imagery that you find.

   
The Anatomy of a Logo Part 1: Creation - MasterCard logo
    MasterCard was originally called the “Interbank Card” because it was supported by several banks, and eventually as the number of those banks grew it was changed to MasterCard. The overlapping circles represent the initial union of banks like Wells Fargo aligning to support it.
             
             

Target Audience

How does the company would like to come across to that audience?

Brainstorm a list of adjectives that define the business, and make sure those adjectives also apply to any design you create.

   
The Anatomy of a Logo Part 1: Creation - Dodge logo
    The colors, typeface, and ram symbol convey “strength” and “power” well in this Dodge logo.  Plus, the ram is facing us, rather than in profile, again implying confidence, muscle, and force.
             
             

The Competition

How does the company distinguish themselves from the competition?

Research brand value propositions and see if you can render them visually.

   
The Anatomy of a Logo Part 1: Creation - Goodyear logo
   

Goodyear tires maintains that they make the best, longest-lasting tires, thus they incorporated the winged sandal of Hermes into their logo, the Greek god of travel.

(link to larger image)

             
             

Typefaces

What does your typeface say about you?

Every typeface conveys a different personality and a good logo can be built entirely around the right typeface.

   
The Anatomy of a Logo Part 1: Creation - Barbie logo
    Though minor changes were made to the typeface over the years, the bubbly, pink, girly, hand-drawn script conveys the brand values of customization and fun.
             
             

Shapes

Could a simple, clean design compliment your brand’s identity?

Some shapes have traditional connotations: the circle is infinite/protective; the square is stable, solid, honest; the triangle suggests tension or direction/movement.

   
The Anatomy of a Logo Part 1: Creation - Target logo
   

Just like a good logo can be built entirely around the typeface, it can also have no words at all and be recognizable.

Remember looking up at the clouds as a kid and transforming the giant puffy masses into dragons and castles? That’s a good exercise for training your mind to process visual information in unorthodox ways.


For a less structured approach, we asked The Pod’s Art Director, Melissa Lidsky, to share some insight into her own creative process. The diligence she describes below is evident in every artwork she has produced for our clients, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem:

Before I touch pen to paper, I research, research, and more research. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the company/industry you’re designing a logo for. I find that the more background info I can gather, the stronger my design will be in the end.

 

I collect images from all over the web that inspire me. Anything that evokes a reaction in me goes in a folder where I can reach it later. While it’s essential to remain original and unique, inspiration is all around you, so don’t ignore it!

 

Once I feel truly confident that I understand the target audience and what the company is about, I begin sketching several designs. This step is repeated many, many times. I almost never land on my first sketch or idea, so this process is very important-- I push myself further with each try, combine ideas, drop certain ones, and just experiment until I find something that works all around.

 

Some things to keep in mind:

- Be aware of “trends” in design—avoid ones that are likely to fade. The idea is to create something timeless
- Look at the competition; know what already exists within an industry
- Don’t get overly complicated with your design: 9 times out of 10 the simpler, the better
- Analyze your own work, do things with purpose and meaning

When I have something I feel confident about, that’s when I finally bring my design to life in Illustrator. If you run into issues, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board, you will almost always return with something  stronger.


How do you feel about your logo? Do you love it, or are you more on the “eh, it’ll do” bandwagon?  Next week we’ll delve deeper and offer some tips on how to evaluate a logo, looking at it from a more objective, scientific, and quantitative approach.  If you’re unsure how your logo measures up, give us a shout and we’ll share our thoughts with you!