Stuff from our studio vaults. Logos, abandoned designs, WIP (Work in Progress), a couple of infographics and a few nice logo animations thrown in for good measure.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been trying to get our network a little more organized – cleaning up old dross and working files. I kept bumping into neat stuff designed by the gang, some of which is abandoned art that’s has never been published anywhere. I wanted to throw some of it onto the blog as we haven’t updated our design showroom section in a while, and while our logo design examples are new to first time visitors, they’re a little long in the tooth for others (including everyone at the shop.) I always like to show off our stuff, but I’ve become reluctant over the past few years to instantly publish client projects as they finalize. There’s a few reasons for that, the main one being this – image pilfering is a real issue on the Internet (yep, our stuff gets knocked off too) and I don’t want to put client’s stuff on the web until they have it protected and/or have published it themselves. I don’t mind showing off our own design work (where we can make the call) and abandoned projects (where the concept designs remain ours) but I hold off on finalized client work until it’s well-and-truly in the wild. Anyway, without further adieu here’s a whack of logos, WIP (Work in Progress) and some interesting design stuff created by the gang at our studio.
Hope you enjoy.
As an avid scuba diver myself, I always love designing stuff for aquasports and the like. This is a logo that we designed for Dive Caddy, a dive gear carrying system, a few years back. Looks like somebody has changed the font to something a little more modern at some point (I think it’s an improvement on our version actually) on their ‘coming soon’ site.
This is a logo we developed for a medical app and companion website. We’re getting more and more projects that are going to end up branding phone applications, and there’s a few things that you need to keep in mind when working on such things. The main consideration is that the logo needs to be fluid and adaptable – depending on where it’s being used, the logo aspect ratio will need to be vertical, horizontal or square.The original design featured an upright configuration:
A logo that’s going to be featured prominently on a website header needs to be a more horizontal setup (otherwise the graphic ‘drives’ the page body down the screen.) As long as the artwork isn’t threaded too deeply with the typography, it’s simply a matter of sliding things around and resizing to fit. Like so:
The logo also needs to be square (to work as a the actual phone app button) which also makes it uniform when used as social media avatars and profile images on Twitter and Facebook. With the Where’s the Doc app, we simply dropped the doctor illustration entirely and went with a font setup. In other instances, the design starts off with the app icon in mind. This was part of a set of proposals made during a project for a phone app (below) a couple of years ago and was designed with that in mind from the hop.
Alas, this was one of those design projects that died on the vine – after numerous pitches and rejected logos, the project fizzled with someone else picking up that baton at a much later date. The project eventually did go live, but with a totally different direction to what we had pitched.
Sometimes the client selects a different end result than the designer would have liked, but that’s to be expected when a client and designer work on a project together. Take this logo for a local real estate agent. The icon is pretty decent (it features the agent’s initials, a house, an apartment complex and even an arrow for good measure.)
The logo went live with the icon, but with a different script font than shown here. I always liked this version better, but it’s the client’s party and as long as they’re happy, we’re happy.We actually do a lot of these fishing tour logos and they turn up on the telly once in a while. When you’re working with a logo that also includes a large sponsor, there are limitations with what you can do and any logo usually has to pass multiple channels in the approval process.
This logo was for a Chinese health & fitness company that was originally going to develop a high-end line of fitness equipment. Due to language issues, the logo had to be simple as well as featuring a very thin and horizontal aspect ratio (to fit on the crossbeams of equipment.) This required a custom font build, as well as some crafty kerning due to the letter shapes. It’s always nice when details like this are part of the original creative brief. Designing logos with their various applications in mind is always easier (and more graphically sound) from from the get-go, rather than having to reverse-engineer everything when crowbarring the logo into something that it wasn’t planned for. Here’s another example of decent planning for usage:
This is the iconic version of a primarily text based logo, designed for a fund raising and public relations management company. As the company was going to be heavily involved on Facebook and other social media platforms, they needed a logo version that was constrained to a square format. This icon can be used with, or without, the company name and tagline.
A couple of years ago, “the cloud” was all the rage and a lot of companies pivoted their brand development towards it. There was a point when we had multiple ‘cloud’ themed projects in-house as everyone jumped on that bandwagon. The hype has mostly died down, and a few projects we worked on never got past the conceptual stage. This would be one of them, though the artwork is kinda nice. Very “cloudy,” which was the point of the exercise I guess.
Then there was this fun little project for a micro-brewery (below.) The main concern about this design was that not only was it to be the company logo, it had to work as a beer bottle label as well. The train is actually historically accurate (that’s where the Puffer Billy name comes from) and we also came up with a character who became similarly named.
Many of our projects often take on an illustrative logo approach (perfectly legit by the way,) and sometimes we’ll hear grumbling from some “every logo has to be three lines simple” purists for their complexity. One of their main quibbles has always been “how will that logo look in black and white, huh?” Like this I guess:
Speaking of fun projects, here’s another. This logo was part of a total branding build for a children’s activity center. As such it needed a child-like approach to the logo proper, and that logo subsequently worked into a mascot design. These type of projects are much lengthier than more traditional treatments as it requires additional design steps in the process; the character has to be conceptualized, sketched out, approved then turned into vector art. Then we have to design a complimentary logo bug that has to work with the character, and without.
As part of this brand build, we created a series of character studies for the unnamed mascot – he (or she?) was going to be featured on signs and advertising paraphernalia saying different things (with speech bubbles) while expressing different emotions. This would have been a sweet little gig if it went to market, but as far as I know, it never did. Ah well. The artwork is still fun.
Internal design work.
Sure, we take branding our own pet projects every bit as seriously as we do when it comes to client work. Over the years I’ve heard this comment a few times “must be nice to be a logo designer – you can just bang out your own stuff lickety split.” Alas, I wish this were true. As designers, we nit-pick over everything, are never satisfied and constantly worry about the most microscopic details. Any internal logo design project is usually stupidly exhaustive and is, in many cases, never finalized. Here’s an example of something I worked on quite recently:
This is the final (for now) version of jabberr, an idea we’ve been kicking around the shop. I like it (for now.) To see how we got here, you can read the rather lengthy post on the logo development for this. That feature gives a little insight into how we work. Then there’s our main identity, The Logo Factory, itself the subject of numerous workups, revisions and versions. Here’s how our logo looked in this 2003 Style Guide:
While a style guide is a terrific idea for brand consistency, this one was largely ignored. Over the years, our logo’s been reworked, tweaked, turned into 3D, twisted, spindled and mutilated. To try and standardize everything, we did a total overhaul five years ago, something that took months. Well, we’re at it again. The main point of this exercise? The house, is back.
Working on our new website (which will be launched in a few years at the rate we’re going,) we decided that our iconic little factory needed to be returned to its rightful spot. The house is a unique part of our history and one of the things that makes our logo a little different than other studios (some of whom also use cogs.) We also tweaked our text logo again, losing the giant cog in most instances, replacing that with simple square chiclets. This is more uniform branding for application on social media and what-not, and allows us to similarly brand our blogs and sub sections with an appropriate logo of their own. We also developed this kinda nifty HD video animation using the cogs a while back, but other than a passing mention in a blog post, never really showcased it anywhere. So, here it is. To view the video, click on the Quicktime logo below.
PixelWurx was originally intended to be our web development sister company. At one point, we also half thought about changing our brand from The Logo Factory to PixelWurx in total, when we started to take some grief over our name (many people thought The Logo “Factory” was indicative of a digital sweatshop cranking out cookie-cutter logos, when it became apparent that there actually were digital sweatshops, cranking out cookie-cutter logos.)
Obviously we never did – The Logo Factory is far too established and personal to ditch now – but PixelWurx as a company is quite legit (it’s an actual corporation: total sales of $0) and we even own the domain. Every once in a while, we play around with the logo and try to rebrand this puppy, mostly as a creative exercise, partially because we may eventually get around to running it as an honest-to-goodness design company. Funny thing – while the company has had zero activity in the 14 years since it’s incorporation in 2000, the logo has been revised no less than six times since then. As part of this PW 6.0, I also created a HD video intro, that’s almost cool, but still seems to be missing “something.” Click on the Quicktime logo to launch that.
I always feel icky about designing my own logo – seems kinda high on the ego scale – but as the fearless captain of The Logo Factory, I’m expected to have one, and I need one for when I work on my indy projects.
This is yet another retread of my pen nib inside a lightbulb logo – a theme that’s been with me since the mid 1990s. I lose it. Go without it for a few years. Redesign the entire thing and put it back again.
Then take it out shortly after. Well, it’s back again.
Random art & graphics.
While we’re primarily a logo design studio, we also do a lot of collateral projects that end up with some decent results. This is a CD cover that we developed for an independent recording artist that I really like (if you’re a music aficionado you may recognize some heavy Joy Division influences.) With the availability of decent stock photography (industry-damaging issues notwithstanding) it’s possible to create pretty decent stuff even on a moderate budget.
While logo design projects are generally style agnostic, sometimes there’s a project that allows us (in this case me) to go back to our own personal style. As an illustrator, my approach was always bold and colorful (subtle colors have never been my thing, more so because of a weakness in color palettes than by choice.) These ‘Truth Meter’ spot illustrations – part of a pretty big WIP are definitely reflective of that:
I generally advise people not to include pictures of themselves in logos (a big fave with real estate agents who believe this personalizes their brand.) Trouble is – trying to be delicate here – very few of us (myself included) are ahm, Hollywood models. A face in a logo also puts a time stamp on the design – a simple hairstyle change, losing a beard if you have one (or growing one if you don’t,) not to mention general aging will, at some point in the not-too-distant future, render your logo obsolete. If we are to include a face in the design, we have to go minimalist, paring things down completely. Here’s an example:
This was part of a logo development for a client who promotes himself under the moniker “The Bionic Marketer.” The client was adamant about including a visual reference to the Six Million Dollar Man (a TV series from the seventies if you don’t know) and despite the obvious design challenges, I think we managed to pull it off quite nicely.
Regular readers of this blog will know for a wide variety of reasons, I’m not exactly a fan of design contests (known in the trade as spec work.) Over the years, I’ve written a lot< about this topic – from both designer and client POV – and other than the occasional or notable incident or general absurdities, what’s needed to be said, already has been. Rather than rehashing things any further (boring everybody to death in the process) I’ve created a series of infographics that I can trot out whenever there’s the need (also thinking about assembling them into an ebook to centralize some of the more important aspects of this phenomenon.) You can find those in our Warehouse. Here’s one:
The key to infographics is to crunch as much information into it, while keeping it bite-sized, quick to absorb and graphically interesting. With this piece I tried to encapsulate how design contests work, the risks involved and even the possible benefits of running one. Didn’t want to spend too much time on this, so I recycled some of the icons that I created for our snarky Logo Design Contest Game, a graphic editorial look at spec work from a designer’s point of view, and something I think stands alone as a pretty decent illustration:
You can view the full size version here. And there you have it. A nice little selection of logos and art from the gang at The Logo Factory. Hope you enjoyed this as much as we did putting it together.