First things very first. If you have not read Part 1, then it would be great if you could start there before reading this, it’s a brief read really. The last 20 years condensed into 1000 words or so.
The Logo Design Challenge
Now the tricky part. Not to say that coming up with a decent relevant name isn’t tricky, because it most certainly is. But as a designer, creating your own logo design can be a challenging task, it’s a precious challenge.
On one hand you want to craft it, create it yourself, this is your baby, your profession, I need people to see what I am capable of. On the other hand, it can be hard to to see things clearly, you are too close to it, and deep down you know that it might be wise for someone else to do it for you.
But heck no. How could you let this logo be created by the hands of someone else, how do they know what you are all about. This isn’t just any logo design, this is your logo design. You need to be passionate about it in order to create the body and soul of the identity that you will be using. It requires ‘you’ to do it.
No easy option here.
You hear other designers saying that maybe someone else should do it, but you know deep down that you will never trust it with someone else. That’s the real issue here. Trust. I’m sure even if you did allow a great designer to do a logo for you, you would find fault with it or you would just feel that it wasn’t right in any number of ways and feel dirty for even thinking some one else should design ‘your’ logo.
How did we start with the logo design
I have been creating logos for some time, my first logo knocked together about 16. Then more seriously in my late teens and early 20’s working for a pre-press studio and an advertising agency.
I seem to be a little different here with the process of designing logos to a lot of people I know. Although I use a notebook for ideas on domain names, tag lines and post ideas I rarely pencil sketch any logos that come my way.
I think this is in part down to working in a high pressured commercial print studio environment where as a designer you just are not given time to design, let alone the freedom of sketching. It really is a totally different environment to that of an agency or studio, I have worked in both. You are always pressed for results, so you end up having to think in your head and sketch in real time on the screen, mocking up half decent logos as you go. Which are often used as the actual ideas to present to the client.
Then I’m asked, ‘how on earth have you managed without a graphics tablet all this time‘, easy. I was not allowed one. It was deemed a luxury item. So again, you make do with what you have. Antiquated Mac’s, old software, no time and then expected to produce stunning results. It’s a printing cliché but it’s so very true. To this day I don’t have a tablet but that is changing this month. Yay. :)
Yeah yeah, spit it out
Well, I just don’t have much in the way of sketches of the logo design process to show, which I guess is what a few people might of been expecting. It’s a live organic process for me, constantly tweaking whatever I have on screen. I have a idea, then create it, then play with it, save versions, then tweak some more. Save some originals, and then create various other versions. Some with subtle changes, some with not so subtle changes.
But I tend to start with an idea that ultimately ends up being pretty close to the final design, even if in that time I have spent hours and hours exploring other options. As I did with the ImJustCreative Logo. So I can show you some of the intermediate versions that were mock-ed up in Illustrator, but most are pretty close to the logo you already know.
Without fail, I start with fonts. This is always my starting point, I never deviate from this. I love fonts, I love typography. I was brought up with letterpress whilst working part-time after school with the letterpress masters in the local printers. Stacks and stacks of lead strips, huge poster size type blocks. Incredible. I used an Atari 520ST and 1040ST as my first DTP program, Cumulus, with an A4 portrait black and white monitor. Bashed out my first DTP catalogs around the age of 17 as I operated a Public Domain software library for both the Commodore 64 and Atari, so this was my initiation into electronic typesetting and page make-up, even before most printers had any form of DTP system.
So yeah, I love fonts.
So I search through my collection of fonts, fonts that come to mind off the top of my head. Then when my memory fails me, I then take to my favourite Font sites for more inspiration. I generally have a pretty good idea in my head already at this point about the feel and message the logo needs to give, hence the font of course plays a crucial role in this.
Then it’s a simple case of just creating version upon version of the logotype with various fonts, seeing which one initially gives the right feeling. I like to spend time on this, especially now I work from home.
With the IJC logo I was pretty certain of the feel I wanted. First tried some condensed styles with pretty bright colouring, bold and bright.
Although I was quite taken with the blue version, for some reason I saw potential in the 1st black version. I loved the feel and rounded nature of the letters, but obviously on its own really doesn’t do much at all.
So at this point I was actually torn between the top two. Which for me is pretty good going, had not been long at it and had not tried too many fonts, yet these two were wildly different. So this is where things get tricky and time consuming.
You have to take the name as a whole and see what meaning it conjures up for you, or how it feels or indeed, what meaning you would like it to imply to others. This goes back to why I choose ImJustCreative in the first place. I’m not trying to say ‘heck everyone, look at me, I’m really creative‘, so I wanted to avoid any type of subtle boast if possible. But at the same time I did want to convey that I am indeed somewhat creative.
Hence the word ‘just’. It was a big addition to the name as it really changes the meaning, now it’s less ‘hey, I’m creative‘. Now it’s ‘well, I’m just creative‘. But when I kept replaying these few words in my mind, it still didn’t come over the way i wanted it to. Even ‘imjustcreative’ was in itself a little too brash for me, needed to dilute it just a fraction.
So back to the drawing board and looked at the various fonts, sizes, thickness’s I had of the above couple of samples and then the idea.
Simple in hindsight. I need to highlight the word ‘just‘. And that was actually a sort of breakthrough for me as this now helped me imply a specific meaning just by highlighting one important word. This also then helped to break up the 3 words and instantly changed the look and feel.
I had resisted the urge even from the beginning to create an icon or logomark for this. I wanted it as clean as possible. Free of any bolt on’s. If they were not needed, I didn’t want them. (Obviously now I’m using the ‘im’ as a small branding mark on my various profile pics, but that was not envisaged at the beginning, and is a very late addition, but works well.)
So at this point I was actually getting quite excited. It felt smart, clean and compact. The main font was Avenir, with ITC Garamond Condensed Italic Light for ‘just‘. As usual I lived with this for a few days, just making subtle tweaks to the spacing, trying to get that optimal feel and balance that I was happy with. Each time I looked at the logo so far I was pretty chuffed, so that’s always a good sign.
Not overlay enthralled with the blue colouring at this point, but that was a detail that could be changed easy enough. But the main elements were there. In terms of ‘sketching’ not much was done, certainly didn’t need to thrash out millions of ideas like I have had to do on occasion. So I was fortunate in this respect.
But the logo isn’t very creative is it?
I enjoy this question and I pose it to myself often. For sure, it certainly is not the most ‘creative‘ in terms of design or art and doesn’t really back up what the logo says. ImJustCreative. But then it does. It’s about confidence in yourself. It’s also about sending a message to others.
As I had said, I did not want this to be a extraordinary creative dream, it needed to be fully functional, practical and keep with my philosophy of smart, clean, minimal design. It’s almost a contradiction, the logo design and the logo name. Which I enjoy to be honest with you. It’s almost cheeky. Which makes me smile when I see it.
Creativity is not just about how you can put ink to paper, its how your mind thinks, how you deploy ideas, go with or go against the grain, because you can. You are a freelancer which means you can do pretty much what you want with your own identity.
And that is exactly what I did.
I look at the logo even now and I’m very happy with it. I do continue to refine it, subtle changes. But the essence will always remain until I go for a drastic re brand.
Small details changes are the dots on the ‘i’s for example. I also added the ‘.com’ which neatly aligned with the dot on the i. Quite fortunate. Finally I added a backslash.
The logo is everything I want. Importantly it does reflect my ideas on the type of design style I enjoy. It creates the right image and message in ‘my’ head.
It is practical. It is adaptable. It is flexible. It is trustworthy.
It works in any combination of colours and backgrounds, tints, reversed out anything you want to throw at it it can deal with it. Small reductions to large enlargements. Pardon?
And as mentioned previously, I now have splintered off a portion of it for a new way of branding. Peel of the ‘im’, plonk it somewhere and that’s me. So if you see a dark shadowy figure with a black beanie with the initials ‘im’ on it, then you know that’s me.
Next time, Part 3, I will talk about how flexible the ImJustCreative brand has become. It has enabled me to create some spin-off projects whilst maintaining the main brand. WeAreJustCreative obviously and the more personal yakety yak style blog by Posterous, ImJustGraham. There are some insane ideas in my head to take this further as mini-projects, all domains purchased its just time. One is ImJustGeeky and well, you get the point.
The most recent project is LogoJunki.es. Over the last few months I have purchased a number of logo named domains with the intent of creating a Logo Design site. LogoJunki.es came about after a logo I designed for myself SlopeJunkies. So about 2 months ago, I purchased the LogoJunki.es domain and set about thinking about ideas for a cool new site. This will be happening some time soon. So you can sign up to the Twitter updates here: @LogoJunkies.
Most are just personal fun projects really, but it’s a great name from that perspective and has worked exceptionally well for the ever more popular WeAreJustCreative.
So next time, more yakety yak.
And to nicely round things off
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