A handcrafted logo design for a rising brand strategy business in Seattle.
Business partners Anna-Lea Dieringer and Erina Malarkey came to me to create a distinctive, memorable, and attractive brand identity system for their new business. They wanted a boutique style word mark, emblem, and icon that was both professional but also cool enough to put on a T-shirt.
They wanted a new brand to reflect their hip, sophisticated and independent style. It was important for them not to come off as some big stuffy corporation but rather something more personal that reflects the coastal nature of their business.
Time Spent: 23 hrs
Below is an outline of my process from start to finish. Here you will be able to dig deeper into my design decisions and see for yourself how I ended up with the final result.
Mood Board/ Art Direction
I gathered various samples of typography, icons, and ampersands to help explain some different ideas I had for the art direction for this project.
We decided that the piece should appear more hand drawn with textured shapes and not too polished. The text shouldn’t be overly swirly but also not sharp or too masculine because the design needs to attract both sexes.
I had planned to explore various styles from the type samples I had drawn for “Brand&Sea” giving each word the same visual weight. Then to help keep these words balanced, I planned to explore only stacked versions rather than a horizontal format.
Originally for the icon we were going to create a B&S monogram but decided to go with just an ampersand icon with a nautical feel.
We thought it might be interesting to explore creating both a minimal version of the ampersand icon when used alongside the text as well as a version of the ampersands made out of rope like this piece by Drew Ellis.
I was also going to uncover different ways to combine an anchor and ampersand to make an original icon for their brand. It’s was important to my clients that this icon not be in the E style ampersands and to make this illustration more organic and less perfect.
For the emblem version of their brand they wanted me to include the established date (maybe in Roman numerals) and the supporting words “Brand Management Consulting”.
My clients also liked the idea of using different grounding elements and containers for the design to add depth to this piece like retro logo pack from our Mood Board.
I started by creating the ampersand for the brand since it would be the center focus of the company used in both the word mark and as a standalone icon. I played with different skeletons of ampersands to get a feel for the movement I wanted. Then I began to try out different ways to incorporate the anchor.
I came up with a few different ideas but ended up going with a more simple solution where the ampersand and anchor merged to make a unique icon.
Although I liked the idea of the rope styled ampersand, it was just too decorative for the brand. Would have made a cool T-shirt but not a very readable icon especially at small sizes.
Word mark Drawings
Once I had an idea of what kind of ampersand I was going to use it was time to explore different lock-ups for the word mark. I decided to hone in on these two styles that my clients seemed to resonate the most with.
After playing around with each, it ended up being the top concept that seemed to stick out more with that boutique look they were going for. The second concept had potential but looked too feminine and easily could be confused with a cosmetic or soap brand.
Once I had my top notch word mark, I began to get into perfection mode. I drew and redrew the concept over ten times, each new drawing better than the last. Since this piece was being built from scratch, it was important that I get detailed making sure all my line weights were consistent and readable.
My word mark was looking good, and now it was time to include the supporting typography and in case this logo into an emblem. I filled pages and pages with different ideas and concepts for this piece trying to balance all the words while still giving the word mark center focus.
Mid-project, my clients, wanted to swap out “Brand Management Consulting” for “Marketing Management Consulting” which proved to be difficult since each word was over nine letters.
I wanted to have an eye-catching emblem but not at the expense of clarity. This design needed to work as both a nice large design for something like a shirt and still work on something as small as a business card.
I also played around with using roman numerals for 2016 for a more retro feel. But unfortunately, the Roman numeral was MMXVI, which kept making the emblem unbalanced with one too many characters.
Plus after much thought, I didn’t want to make people have to look up the Roman numeral to know when the established date was. I wanted people to see the logo and be able to understand it at a glance.
Out of all the designs, this was the best choice where I could include all the information that the client wanted, but I knew it still wasn’t good enough. Since each word was so long, it took away focus from the company name and forced the design into a horizontal format.
So I took creative liberty and removed one of the words just to see what would happen and included the words Pacific Northwest. I knew having a two on two-word balance would be much easier to read while still giving the word mark the attention it deserved.
The second I drew this concept a light went off. I knew I found my solution.
Once I had my design ready, all that was left was to do one more round of cleanup in Photoshop and vectorize it in Illustrator. I choose to digitalize this piece using Image Trace, so I could keep more of that natural handmade quality from my drawing instead of smoothing everything out by redrawing it with the pen tool.
This piece now has the smallest amount of texture from when I inked it with my micron pen but is still clear enough to be easily read at various sizes. And now that oval shape I created can serve as an additional design element to either in case the entire emblem or just the word mark.
For me, color is always tricky and can take a logo from good to great. I tried various solutions that I thought not only looked good but also gave the right tone.
I ultimately went with a light gold and navy blue combination, so this identity could have that high-end feel that my clients were craving. I balanced the gold with a beautiful navy blue to still tie the color scheme in with our nautical theme while giving the logo maximum contrast for readability.