Having read Smashing Magazine for a few years now, always wondering what it takes to get on that 'contributors list', well here I finally am. I just want to suck up the excitement of my first post on Smashing, because I am rather chuffed.
Not sure how to approach the issue of 'how many logo design ideas to show your client'? This post may help... How Many Ideas Do You Show Your Clients?
I tried to make it a discussion piece, so please feel free to leave a comment, I am trying to reply to as many as possible. Frankly, surprised at how many comments thus left. On the first day, I made it my mission to reply to all the 20 or so comments, which I did. But the next day, there were over 60, so not sure what people's expectations are on replies from the post author.
I shall be 'hopefully' contributing more to Smashing Magazine in the near future, now I have a feel for what motivates people to want to read and participate
I was humbled and delighted when Vitaly Friedman from Smashing Magazine approached me to come up with a new logo/badge for their new Smashing Network. Chalk another one up for the logo design porfolio.
I'll be honest and say I was initially a little dumbstruck when Vitaly approached me, Smashing Magazine is known and loved by pretty much everyone on Earth. So like, no pressure dude. Yeah, really.
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It would be fair to say, I asked 'many' questions. So as well as asking Vitaly to fill in my online logo request form, we then proceeded to correspond via email. It was crucial to get on the exact wavelength and to ask questions that might not have initially seemed relevant.
- What image did Smashing Network need to portray?
- How close, visually, should the new Smashing Network logo be to the main Smashing Magazine logo?
- Could it have it's own unique personality?
- Should it be identical in style to the existing brand, as much as is humanly possible?
- Could we take a whole new visual approach, creating a totally unique Smashing Network brand?
Some of these question may seem a no brainer, but they are still important to ask and to clarify the answer, as obvious as it may be. The client may surprise you with bucking the trend so to speak, or feel like 'going for it'.
As tempting as it was to go mad with a brand new idea or concept, I personally felt that the Smashing Network logo should be as close to the original brand as possible. Vitaly confirmed that the Smashing Magazine brand is crucial and that any new logo should be based on the existing Smashing Magazine brand, look and feel.
The new logo needed to inherit the existing look.
With the brand boundaries established, I could move onto getting my fingers dirty. The first step was to create the main logo, this basically required a change of tag line only. So as you can see below, we kept the main logo and just adjusted the wording from 'magazine' to 'network'.
At this stage I did offer up some alternative font styles for the 'network' wording, but after seeing them, Vitaly was sure that the font should be the same as the original logo.
As a designer, you still fight the urge to want to 'play', to show the client alternatives and variations, by doing this, it was easier to see that the best way for the brand was to keep the font the same.
But it was not an instant result to get this far, I did explore alternative fonts and subtle variations in style. So on the surface, it looks like easy peasy, knocked out in 5mins. Hindsight is great, but not always applicable. So I guess with some backward and forward shuffles, it took a few days for us to decided that the tag line should be in the original font. Job done.
Stage 2 did take some time to come to fruition. Once again, my personal desire to show 'imaginative' and 'pretty' logomarks surfaced.
In the end, I came full circle. Kudos to Vitaly to sticking to his guns all the way through the process, one client who knew exactly what was needed.
After spending some time exploring other type of logomarks, random and visually similar, we opted for the 'G' used in the Smashing wording. This is a recognisable mark, and creates a strong visual connection to the main Smashing brand.
I made just a few subtle changes here, you can see that I have slightly thickened it up and rotated it anti-clockwise ever so slightly. This ensures that the far right part of the 'arrow' has a perfect straight edge, opposed to the slightly off vertical edge in the original. I did this so that the wording, when left aligned with the 'G' would sit flush, rather than having an awkward gap. The original on the left, and the revised 'network' version on the right.
With the logotype and logomark sorted, we now had to find a practical way to put these together.
I bombarded Vitaly with yet more questions, thoughts and various practical considerations about the intended use of the logo/badge. It's worth noting here that this not really a logo, but more a 'badge'. The Smashing Network Badge so to speak. The rules of engagement had to be looked at slightly differently here.
Members of the Smashing Network would have to place this badge on their website. Website owners give much love, care, attention and time ensuring their own design works and performs both visually and practically. Being asked to place any other graphic, logo or badge can cause some perfectionists to balk at having something 'foreign' on their perfectly crafted website. Conversely, some website or blog owners 'collect' badges like they are going out of fashion, so we needed to create a badge that hopefully worked for the 'majority'.
The badge needed to look 'nice', be practical and serve the function of being a badge of honour so to speak. Being part of the Smashing Network is a privilege.
So to keep things 'real', I looked at many other types of 'badges', one that springs to mind is the 9Rules logo of course. The logo itself is just gorgeousness realised, but it's also a badge of honour that people wear with pride on their sites. People 'want' to have that badge, it's not a 'handicap'.
So armed with the knowledge of both website design perfectionists and vice-versa, I came up with the badge container shape you see above. It's not a predictable straight edged badge, neither is it totally free floating, but it is a combination of structure and variety. Following the contours of the logomark and the logotype, creates a snug looking badge.
After coming up with an initial design, I asked Vitaly to field the idea to the members of the Smashing Network at the time, to gauge some feedback and to see if there were any issues or specific style requirments to take into consideration.
Feedback was positive, with no significant changes, we then created several sizes of the main badge style. Then proceeded to create various colour and tone versions. Again, this was to pre-empty any website owners who have a very specific colour palette going on, on their website.
Some of the websites in the Smashing Network also have their own visual brand to maintain. Offering the badge in both full technical colour, neutral and mono styles ensures everyone is catered for.
Taking the main badge a step further, I then created the 'G' logomark on it's own, to act as a recognisable icon in it's own right. This can be used to reinforce the main badge, possibly using it as a small badge in a footer or sidebar for instance. But this 'squared' version is not compulsory, more of a 'bonus' badge for those that want to make it very clear they are proud members of the Smashing Network.
The final image files had to be flexible, so all are workable as transparent PNG's. So no fancy drop shadows or background vignettes here. Clean and crisp edges all the way.
It was important to offer varieties of badge size and colour, whilst retaining the original visual brand identity.
If you are an existing reader of ImJustCreative , then you will no doubt be aware that I like to source the 'finer' OpenSource and Free Fonts and help spread the love via this site. And by 'finer', I mean fonts that are generally conceived with love and pride and more importantly, attention to detail.
Exclusive free font downloads available via ImJustCreative: http://imjustcreative.com/category/free-fonts/font-exclusives/
Open Source fonts such as Titillium, Neighbourhood and CP Mono Beta as well as more unusual fonts that often don't find the limelight, like the brilliant Logarde Thin, these fonts show quite brilliantly that some 'free' fonts can be used reliably for commercial work, and that you don't have to take out a risk assessment when downloading that latest freebie from '100000blahfreefonts.com' etc.
Open Source fonts are paving the way for high easily accessible and customizable, quality typefaces, no longer do we have to feel guilty about using free fonts. Well, we do, but at least there is light on the horizon.
Being a freelancer logo designer, finances can mean having to be rather creative with sourcing supplies. I for one am really up for doing all I can to provide more and more motivation and support for the talented peep's who create fonts for us to use.
For sure, some of these are geared towards the display styles, suitable for use at higher point sizes. Examples of this maybe short copy text like logo designs, or posters. The 'Days' typeface is a recent example of a display font that has attention to details in abundance. As well as the chunky/phat and popular modular font styles.
If you are a serious typographer?
Do you design fonts? Have you created your first ever font and need to 'get it out there'? Do you create usable and quality fonts like the ones listed above? Do you include reasonable glyphs like standard punctuation, Cyrillic characters, bold, italic? Do you care about the sanity of the end user with details like kerning? Or do you like crafting modular, phat display fonts? Then read on.
Beta, not yet complete? Need some motivation?
Logarde Thin, when I found it on Behance, was one weight and minus punctuation and numbers. But the font in general looked superb and from my eyes, had serious potential. Since I added it to ImJustCreative, it has become the most commented and downloaded font. Kudos to Sebastian for sticking with it.
This whole Beta thing is something I am really hyped up over. There are even semi complete typefaces out there that if you ask nicely, the designer will email you a vector file of the work so far. A great example of this is the Matey Typeface. You may be struggling for motivation, possibly thinking it's going nowhere, but until you do the 'trial by fire', how will you know? If you have a promising new font like Matey, but it's only available as a vector file, then I definitely want to hear from you.
Exclusive Font Downloads
Fortunately, I have been granted 'exclusive' download rights to some fonts found on Behance, these include : Expanded Font, Vilhelmia Font, Clipper Font, Teodoria Font
This comes about because sometimes the designer does not have the reader base or reach on their own website to warrant making the font available, or they just have not even thought that far down the line.
With the support of Smashing Magazine, I am also now planning to post some of these 'exclusive' font downloads via Smashing Magazine, opposed to IJC. This ultimately depends on the style of quality of font and the final say of Smashing Magazine, but if you consider making your font exclusively available for us, you can be assured of epic promotion and reach with 1000's of regular readers.
So, yes to some of the above?
If so, and you are looking for more platforms to promote your work, rather than just have it sitting in your portfolio, then give me a shout. I'll pimp it till my fingers are raw, and have it available in my little archive. Would love to hear from you. All I can promise is that I will help ensure that your hard work is seen by more people.
I can't guarantee I will add every suggested font, so please try not to be offended if this is the case. Some of it is down to my own personal preference, which is subjective, just like design.
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The Logo Smith : Freelance Logo Designer, Brand Identity & Graphic Design Studio
Providing PR Services with The PR Room: Technology PR, Smart Home PR, Internet of Things PR and Lifestyle PR Agency.
25 Years Experience in: Logo & Brand Identity Design, Graphic Design, Advertising, Marketing, and Commercial Print.