We like to think that all logo design projects are planned, carefully regimented and executed. That’s often true and many are. On the other hand, many logos are developed through an exhaustive process of trial, error, chasing design rabbits down holes and even happy accidents. This is one of those times.
When showing case studies and logo evolutions, designers often toss out the material that went haywire or for one reason or another, just didn’t work (we’re guilty of that too, I guess.) Nobody wants to showcase failed designs and heavy editing keeps our portfolios lean with great stuff, always good for the client confidence department. That doesn’t mean design snafus and missteps don’t occur. They do, as the following step-by-step case study will illustrate and most designers encounter lumps, bumps, burps and hiccups on their way to a decent logo. Certainly happens to me, though the trash usually ends up where it belongs, in the trash, not in a blog post on the Internet. However, for this personal project I promised myself that I’d capture EVERY step of the logo development process, rather than just the progressions that worked and publish everything – warts and all – for people to see. Afterwards I wanted to discuss the problems of developing a new brand (when just about everything is taken) and the choices we sometimes have to make because that’s just the way it is. Without further adieu, here’s a nuts-to-soup look at my branding and logo build for a personal project we can now officially call jabberr (for more on what that is all about, see footnotes at article end.)
Grab our free & handy guide to logo formats (a 3.5 MB .pdf) While it’s downloading, you can read about brand identity theft and how our work ended up representing other companies in Brazil and Ireland.
Let’s get the manual out of the way: As I mentioned a few days ago, we’re working on a new site design (for a couple of years now, our main site has been unyieldingly clunky) and rummaging through old blog posts and what-not, trying to figure out which ones can be left here, updated for the new setup or scrapped entirely. I’ve ran into a couple of pearls; WIP manuals that for one reason or another, were shelved after token announcements or mentions. One was our Guide to Great Logos that I wrote about a few days ago. Another is this pretty cool Guide to Logo Formats that was part of it. It’s a little dated maybe – many might argue that .EPS and .AI files are obsolete in favor of .PDFs – but it still covers some decent technical territory in layman’s language. This is an area that many novice and beginner designers have a hard time understanding and it’s usually complete voodoo to clients who receive their digital files after a logo design project is completed.
Download your free copy here (about 3.5 MB) Now, the segue into brand identity theft:
Apparently neither does he or Crowdspring.
Remember last summer – no, the summer of 2013 – when Marc Cuban announced that he wanted people to design the new uniform for his Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team? No? You can read the long version here (I can wait) or we’ll recap: Billionaire entrepreneur Marc Cuban announced a Mavericks uniform design contest on his blog in a particularly dick way. Designers carped on Twitter and blogs as they are wont to do. Crowdsourcing platform Crowdspring jumped in, offering to host the contest – on top of stuff that was already being posted on Cuban’s blog – and pay out a G-note in prizes (split into $600 and $400) through a “Buyer Assured” contest.
We all know what “assured” means, but in this context? Simply put, it means that whoever is holding the contest, the “buyer,” is guaranteeing, in Crowdspring parlance “assuring,” to pay out prize money to a winning designer or designers (yeah, promising to pay a winner is actually optional on design contest sites, bless their hearts.) If a winner isn’t selected, or the prize money isn’t paid out, the platform is supposed to step in and either distribute it to multiple ‘eligible’ designers (ala 99designs) or pick a winner (ala Crowdspring.)
For the record, that contest was launched on May 14, 2013 and ended June 1, 2013 with participants “assured” that the “buyer” (as Cuban never promised to give anybody anything, I guess that’s Crowdspring themselves) would pick something and actually pay somebody. Cuban got oodles of free design stuff and one supposes, an awesome new uniform design. This enterprise was novel and as Cuban’s always newsworthy, Crowdspring got tons of free promo in the mainstream press while two supposedly happy designers would get some dough for their efforts. A trifecta of win. It was only snooty, whiny, cry-baby elitist luddites like yours truly that moaned about this happy nice-time event, refusing as always, to get down with this design crowdsourcing thing. Anyhoo, here’s how it went:
A 220 page manual on “Everything You Wanted to Know About Logos But Didn’t Know Who To Ask.”
While working on our new website (more on that later) and trying to cull 8 years(!) worth of old blog posts before the move, I came across something I had completely forgotten about: The Guide to Great Logos ebook. This was a pet project I worked on a few years back but shelved due to some pressing issues that demanded my attention at the time (some of you know what that was.) The distraction lasted longer than anticipated, I never got back to it and other than a solitary blog post back in the fall of 2011, never mentioned it again. Anyway, I gave the guide a once over this morning and realized it’s not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. This was a working version so you might find some design issues (Times Roman italic on the front cover? That ghastly ad on the back?) and the occasional typo. Some of the info may be slightly dated (nothing major – in terms of logo use on social media for instance, some pixel sizes have changed) but otherwise it’s solid – full of helpful pointers, tips, technical guides, advice, how-tos and how-not-to’s all peppered with a ton of logo examples and case studies from the shop. Worth a read if you’re serious about logo design or in the market for your own. Download link below (the .PDF weighs in around 7MB and 220 pages.)
Click here to Download The Guide to Great Logos.
Designing free logos on contest sites for fame and fortune. (Theirs.)
It’s been a while since I’ve written a full-blown design contest screed or crowdsourcing rant (they’ve been done to death and for the time being, I don’t have it in me.) I also haven’t designed or illustrated something really, really complex – just for the hell of it – in quite some time. Figured this was the best of both worlds – a snarky, monster-sized infographic that imagines logo design contests as a game (which they kinda are) based on the real McCoy (or McCoys if you will.)
Here’s a bigger size (for more robust internet pipes:)
1000 px wide.
And a monster-sized one (for those with really big monitors:)
Anyhoo, I set this puppy up in Illustrator over about a week, starting with the icons and spot illustrations, writing the text and then trying to incorporate everything into a zany board game theme, based on some foggy memories from my youth. Sure, the underlying subject matter is a pet gripe but I ended up having a lot of fun with this (while still attempting to illustrate the issues with spec work sites and design contests.)
Speaking of which – any similarity to actual design contest sites is purely intentional and in fact, I used exact scenarios, rules and methodologies from a leading one for direction. (There’s 99 reasons why I won’t say who it is. Not a hundred. Ninety nine.)
If you’re interested in a real logo game, you can always have a go at our latest Movie Logo Quiz.