Logo Wars – Case Study ‘Maple Maintenance’


Following from my first article on the benefits of creating logos for FREE, I will be posting about specific case studies, logo’s that I have created. Here I will talk about the reasons behind the designs, the various thought processes involved in the branding and potential marketing of the company and the general outcome. Did I like it or did I just throw it in to my ‘I am a perfectionist, therefore this is crap and will always be crap’ pile. It’s a big pile.

The first Logo Case Study I will kick off on was created for a local builder. Henceforth known as Jeremy. Someone that I know, actually lived opposite my parents so after various nagging sessions on why his white van was not adorned with a logo, he admitted that he really didn’t have anything yet to adorn to the said white van. Shocking. I will write more on the importance of Van Liveries soon based on the experiences specifically encountered with Jeremy.

Luckily for him I was around. So began a series of designs on logo’s that would hopefully make an impact on a white van, and a industry already buzzing with many other building outfits, some legit some less than legit. How to make a impact, for minimal cost.

Some logo’s are just plain generic and random, and mean nothing or have no clever explanations or reasoning behind them, other than they just look good. For Maple, there was a obvious connection here and a not so obvious one. The obvious one would be using the humble ‘Maple Leaf’ within the logo, somehow. Yes, quite predictable, but it’s actually what Jeremy wanted and plus, Jeremy is Canadian. So there you have your connections, not just a random idea.

Unfortunately, in the time that Jeremy had registered as a business with Maple as his company name, another local building company, beat Jeremy to the Maple Logo, they were also called Maple. Talk about a s*****r. Now, in hindsight, had Jeremy been quicker of the mark with his logo and had his van sign written just some months earlier, the other Maple company would have been forced to come up with something less Maple sounding. This was unfortunate. Jeremy could not change his name at this point because he had been registered for some years, whereas the new Maple intruder just obviously did not know that another Maple business was close by.

So, faced with two Maple companies in the same small town, and the other Maple actually using a Maple Leaf as amain feature for the logo we were faced with a double headache. Darn it. Frankly, we just had to work with what we have and try to distinguish our Maple design from the newcomer.

So we did. After coming up with a dozen variations on a logo theme, we settled on one that seemed to work the best and was not too similar to the Maple intruder.

For Jeremy it had to serve a very practical purpose. This time round you could not just design a yummy Web2.0 style logo. It just would not be appropriate.

You have to think a little less ‘fancier’ and more ‘practical’. Doesn’t mean it has to be boring or plain. Just means you have to think a little more carefully about how it will be seen on letterheads, business cards, marketing material… and in this case, most importantly, how it would appear on the van. It had to be distinguishable from the other local Maple company, but serve it’s own purpose of being a pleaseing logo to look at and one that works on a practical level.

What we came up with was a Logo that would work in two parts, allowing for greater flexibility. Often a logo is both the logo and the icon, other times, the logo is dependent of the icon. Some people assume Logo and Icon are one of the same, to me they cannot be more different.

The idea is that both parts serve to strengthen the brand, on their own, they should be obvious what brand they belong to.

So we have the circular round Maple logo, made with a strong black keyline and the ‘M’ set out on it’s own. The second part is the actual Maple wording and the ever so important Tag Line or Strapline. Another key factor in effective marketing and branding, which I will cover soon.

Creating a logo that actually works well on many types of media is quite a challenge. But in this case I think it works really well. It is a strong and colorful logo and looks stunning on a white van, a sign or business card.

It’s a nerve wracking moment when someone, Jeremy, has to pay money to have ‘your logo’ printed in large on any type of vehicle. Any little error’s at this point would be quite embarrassing. For me, the logo’s first outing WAS on the Nissan van before the logo was used in any other format.

Pleased to say that when I first saw the freshly sign written van about time, I was dead chuffed. It look pretty damn good, was clear, stylish and very prominent.

This image is not of the actual van’s after the sign writing. Like I could organise a photo shoot of two vans at a dockyard, when Jeremy only has one van to his name. No, this was a cunning idea to see what the logo might look like before committing to the cost of sign writing. Downloaded the stock images of the vans from Nissan’s website, then with some clever manipulating in Photoshp of the logo, I was able to create a realistic ‘vision’ with logo’s in place.

Neat huh?



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Written by: Graham Smith: The Logo Smith
1st Posted: 2008/03/13 & Post Updated: 2014/05/09
Filed In Categories: Brand Identity

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