The Golden Arches. The Swoosh. The Shell. You remember them all like you remember the lyrics to Ice-Ice Baby. It’s a company’s identity. Their logo. Their “tramp-stamp” if you will. A distinctive and unique icon or symbol of a company, object, publication, person, service or idea that best represents them and helps to convey its message to the customers in their market.
You’d think this would be simple and easy to make/design a logo, but it ain’t. Making a memorable logo that hits the mark is damn-near impossible unless you own a Mind Reader or, in fact, loose your own mind. So to help expedite the mind-reading process, we decided it would be wise to share our process in a logo design for our client, Resume Bear.
FUN & SERIOUS or COOL & SOPHISTICATED…
Depending on how you approach it, your logo design will create a mood. It will most likely have a hint of whimsy or perhaps a more serious tone. But what if your demographic or client wants to be a little bit of both?
There’s a serious danger heading off into one extreme over another when designing logos. This is the company tattoo and has a level of permanence. Sure, like the music of U2, a company will change its style by polishing the edges, adding a shadow, or giving it a new twist to stay on top of the times. But more often than not, the company will keep its image in order to stay connected to its long-standing customers and future customers. It’s the mood that will most likely never change. Does it make you smile? Does it make you cozy inside? Does it make you feel like they can be trusted? Or, does it do nothing for you?
That being said: Research is key.
First, you should ask your client a bazillion questions. This will clear the air, and through them answering question number 1,342 you might get a tid-bit of information that you didn’t even think to ask for that has become paramount in figuring out the plan of attack. It never hurts to ask a lot of questions. But it DOES hurt to hand over 15 logos and find out they hate all of them because it “just doesn’t feel right.”
Second, find out their taste. Ask them what logos they like and why? What is it about the arches that moves them? Some clients will have a lot to say on this subject and will help direct you in creating an understanding of what they expect. Some won’t have a clue why they like it, they-just-do. That tells you something about the client right there. My guess is that if you look around, find some logos that have the same style, look, feel and direction that you were planning on heading in and present those logos to the client, you might be able to shave off some time and save some brain power for the other stuff. No need in reinventing the wheel here. Think of this as a Rorschach Test – Hold up a logo and ask, “What do you see? How do you feel?”
BRANDING vs. JUST-A-LOGO…
That logo you designed is great, but – so what?! If you’re lucky enough to have a great logo it won’t get you very far if it sits in your closet with the door shut. So, it’s imperative to ask your client what they plan to do with their logo. Are they going to use it primarily as a stamp on their business cards, letterhead and website? Or, are they going to take it to another level and brand it by placing it on the side of their building, car, and t-shirts? What if they’re a Snowboard company? Chances are they’ll want that logo on their spiffy new snowboard designs and maybe even stitched into their hats and gloves.
In this case, Resume Bear wanted to not only have it on their website, letterhead, and business cards. But they wanted to get the logo on T-Shirts, pens and water bottles to hand them out to college students and the like to promote brand awareness. This tells us one thing for sure: The Logo Must Be Cool. Because if it’s not- kids won’t wear the Tee. And if they don’t wear the tee, the tee sits in the closet with the door shut.
It also tells us: The Logo Must Be Legible. And I don’t mean “textually”. If you’re gonna put a logo on a t-shirt and give out those t-shirts, chances are you’re gonna want a logo that says everything the company is at a glance. People do not read anymore these days unless it’s the new Harry Potter book. And I know what you’re thinking, “But Chris! It’s only one word, or sentence! How hard is it to read a name of a business?” People have more important things to waste their time with, especially students. To help them NOT waste their time on reading the words “Resume Bear” we have to either a] get their attention so that they WILL read the words, or b] do the work for them. Or, maybe both!
SEPARATION of BEAR and RESUME…
Resume Bear started out with a big, brown, passive bear holding a piece of paper in its mouth as if it just caught a trout. That wasn’t bad, really, but it wasn’t really cool either. More importantly, a big, brown, passive bear doesn’t spark any “job hunting and finding” memories in my mind. It just reminds me of a log cabin, green trees, snow on the ground, and campfires. It’s no different than calling it Resume Sparrow, or Resume Groundhog. A Bear, in and of itself, does not draw an immediate correlation to job-placement. And we’re not about to ask Resume Bear to “change your name, because this logo design stuff is really hard!”
An easy question to ask yourself, as a designer, is What’s The Focus? We’re not selling bears. And we’re not really selling resume’s either. But we ARE selling a service that involves resumes. So, RESUME then is the focus. And BEAR would then be the muscle behind it. What I meant to say is, “Resume” is the most important word to someone looking for a job and walking by this T-shirt. “Bear” is just the cool part of it all for that person walking by.
But how do you make a job seeker, or employer, who just reads the name of the company that Resume Bear is not about camping? How do you design a logo with focus on the “resume” part, but still have a bear be involved? Is it even possible?
SKETCH IT BEFORE YOU WRECK IT…
With my mind spinning on all these questions I took pencil to pad and braved the world of my imagination. I tried to imagine I was doing a logo for a snowboard company, a law firm, an apparel company, and more. I just drew whatever I could think of that involved resume first, then bear second. I also came up with a bunch of words that defined “resume” to me: Job. Job Hunt. Seeking. Employment. Paper. Suitcase. Suit. Text. Etc… Then I did the same with “bear”: Strong. Bold. Paws. Brown. Big. Claws. Slash. Hostile. Docile. etc.
And I sketched all that again.
Out of all the drawings I had, only a few stood out. And it made me realize – You can blend the two without losing clarity. Of course I loved the bear holding a suitcase [#1]. But does that stand the test of time? Does that really have elegance or is it too cartoony and fun? What has a professional edge, but still makes me smile?
Answer: The Origami Bear.
IS THIS SOLUTION THE BEST?
This is no doubt the hardest question to ask the client. But it’s even harder to convince yourself of this. And if you can convince yourself that this logo meets all the requirements you and the client have, then it should be easy to stand by your decision. Truth is, you can design logos all day, constantly coming up with more and more ideas every week. But no one can afford to pay you those kinds of hours, and no company can afford NOT having a steady, standard logo.
The logo we stand by is the origami bear because it did everything we thought it needed to do: It drives you away from “cozy”, “cuddly” bear; It doesn’t make you think of a log cabin and fire place or pine trees; It looks as though it’s made out of a folded resume, so it literally IS a Resume Bear; It’s charming because it reminds us of folding paper in class as kids to make those paper footballs, or fortune telling things; It doesn’t have an “angry” bear feel to it, so it doesn’t push an emotion on you [sometimes adding eyes or eyebrows to an animal or icon can give a “happy” feel like Carl’s Jr. Star, or an “angry” feel like the Bad Boy Club brand]; It’s professional AND charming at the same time.
At the end of the day you can only do your best without losing your marbles trying to read the minds of your clients. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just ask a lot of questions, do a lot of research, do a lot of sketching, and design it out to see if it works. However, if you try to be as organic as possible and understand the breadth of clients business from the ground up, you will hit the mark – or come somewhere close!