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With the festive fun all over things are going to get a little hectic for a while, so now’s probably a good time for me to write the second part of our branding process blog before we get ‘snowed’ under again. In this post I’ll be talking about the design process and methods we used for creating our logo.

Any ID?

So we had our name and a general idea of how we wanted to be perceived by our clients. Now we needed a swanky logo to accompany it and visually represent our style at a glance. Something energetic and cool was the idea.

First comes the research. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but it’s massively important when creating a logo as it gives you an idea of what’s already out there and what logos work and fail. We ploughed through tons of existing logos, posters and advertisement material in order to gather an idea of what styles we liked. Here’s some of our favourites…

Inspiration logos

Sketching

Happycry sketch ideasWith our research in place we moved on to the good stuff - logo concepts and visuals. A little motto of ours is that everything starts on paper, so we both grabbed our pencils and sketchpads and got down to some serious doodling. Sketching ideas is something I enjoy as it gives me the chance to wind down and thrash out my ideas; quite therapeutic in a way. If you have the time I think it’s a good idea to work on sketching ideas for no more than an hour or two a day, this way you get to take a step back from your work and come back the next day with a changed perspective and a fresh set of ideas.

We spent about a week working on sketches and knocked up a few good ideas along with some flops. A consistent idea that kept creeping up for the Happycry logo was a tear with a smile. We also liked the idea of using a script style font as that would make the logo look energetic and different, like a brand rather that a service.

V for Vector

With all our sketches in hand we fired up Adobe Illustrator and started to mock up our favourite logos in grey scale vector graphics – we never use colours until were set on the design. So we took 5 or 6 ideas and developed them until we had thirty or so different vector logos. Thirty sounds a lot but we had plenty of time so we could afford to take it slow and create many different visuals ideas. In most cases clients want a logo made up in week or two so it’s not always possible to have the luxury time scale we did.

early Happycry vectors

After many rounds of revisions we had plenty of ideas and potential logos, but none that both of us were happy with.  We took a step away from the design process for a couple of days and when we returned we realised there was too much emphasis on trying to include the tear drop into our logo, we were forcing it in and that’s one of the worst things you can do in design. When things aren’t going well I think its better to keep exploring and developing your current ideas rather that starting from scratch, as things can suddenly click in to place. As Dan Brown says -

“Very rarely, if ever, is design work accepted in the first pass, and sometimes you can only hope to be ‘wrong in the right direction.’”

Dan Brown, Communicating Design

What’s that font?

We decided to put the ‘tear drop’ idea on the back burner for now and concentrate on something we both knew we wanted – an energetic and bouncy typeface. Free / open-source fonts are good when it comes to creating posters and flyers but none of them are unique and we see a lot of them used. We wanted a typeface that would feel unique to us and wasn’t plastered in every other shop window. So, with this in mind we decided we would look into buying a commercial font or creating our own.

Sweet sugar

We gathered up around 10 different fonts that we liked and placed them side by side highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.  At first we were drawn to a font called Spills, which met all our demands with its energetic look and flow, yet we decided not to go with it straight away in case any of the others grew on us.

Swirly fonts

That turned out to be a good idea as over the space of a week our perceptions changed as a cool little font created by sudtipos called Sugar Pie, started to catch our eye.

Sugar Pie examplesAfter a couple of days we decided this was the font for us, as we liked it more and more every time we saw it, this is very important when creating a logo as you need to make sure it will stand the test of time. We experimented with the brilliant glyphs Sugar Pie comes bundled with and soon after the typeface was looking very nice. When we had the type looking right and laid out how we wanted it, in grayscale, we were eager to inject some colour into it in order to give it a new identity and make it our own.

Colour cards

We liked the idea of one solid colour for our logo so that we can be associated with it, kind of like a brand. I think it’s a good idea to associate your business with a solid consistent colour as it makes your logo more recognisable and instant; like Coke Cola or Adsa for example. Just don’t make it bright pink as the London 2012 logo has killed that colour forever!

We needed a strong, energetic colour that would complement our typeface and give it some enthusiasm. At first we couldn’t decide on a colour so we tried something a little different. We decided to print (with Moo) our font on a range of different colour business cards and offer people a choice to take their favourite colour. It turned out this wasn’t a good idea because the results followed no pattern and we realised we had given people too much choice. If we were ever going to try this method again (which we wouldn’t) we would have used only 2 colours, not 5 as we did – It wasn’t the best use of our time/money while starting a business.

Happycry early coloured business cards

We finally decided on red as we felt that colour best represented ourselves and what we do. We’re passionate about design and, being quite young, we’re enthusiastic and full of energy. Sold!

Standing out

Our logo was starting to come together but we both felt it looked a little flat and basic – we needed to give it a little depth.  Once again we fired up illustrator and applied a thick white stroke to the type and gave it a slight drop shadow, which made it standout instantly. We also added a simple flat shine effect to the curves of the letters as this gave it more personality and made it look more ‘fun!’

The logo was almost there, but was something missing? We needed a way to bring it out that little bit more so we added a natural looking fabric texture to the background and ‘VOILA’ everything clicked into place and our logo was there. We didn’t even contemplate trying to include the tear drop as we had previously, because it looked spot on as it was.

Happycry logo

Logo design is about trial and error and we often find the best logos are the ones that look quite different to when you first started sketching them. It’s useful to use sketching to explore more natural ideas to what you might create with the pen tool, but it’s also important to move on and explore the boundaries of digital formats – such as expanding on the design of a typeface.

It took time for us to arrive at a logo we were happy with and we were lucky in this case not being tied to a deadline. It was interesting trying to create a logo that didn’t follow the standard web/design trends, but we’re glad we did. We think it perfectly represents us, our business and what we believe in.

Let us know what you think in the comments…

Posted on 25 January 2010

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