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The Natural Evolution of a Logo:
Sculpting an Image that Fits

by Elizabeth Iwamiya, Anomaly Design

The idea of creating a logo can be daunting. After all, that little symbol is supposed to stand for and represent your whole company--including all your employees and your products--as well as comprising the most visible piece of your public face. It is what customers associate you with, and remember you by.

The specifics are unique to each project, but the overall process is the same in most cases. I'd like to take you step by step through the evolution of a single project, illustrating the considerations at each phase.

Let's take on the case of SCS Voice Services, which provides telephone support for the on-campus residents at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

We began by talking together and exploring their needs. They wanted a logo that would express the unique Santa Cruz spirit, and appeal to students (their main customers). The logo needed to work in a variety of situations: on exterior signage, stationery, forms, web site, as well as on promotional items like t-shirts and coffee mugs.

We then established a common visual understanding, by looking at other logo examples, and discussing what they liked and didn't like about them. Because words are one medium, and images another, just talking about the logo can lead to a false sense of understanding. I find it very effective to ground that discussion, making it visible through examples. Studying other logos with them, it was easy to understand exactly what they meant when they said they wanted an appealing and coordinated look.

They knew they wanted the logo to feature a Banana Slug, the campus mascot. With no "official" version of the slug, departments had been making their own versions and variations for a long time, and there were many to look at and compare: slugs with and without arms, different shapes of head and facial features, long and short bodies of various thicknesses.

Then it was time to throw caution to the winds, and free-associate. I encouraged them to tell me how they wanted the logo to feel: words like friendly, fun, witty, enjoyable, clean and professional emerged.

Armed with all that information, I returned to the studio and began sketching. Soon a promising character emerged:.

I experimented with some possible layouts based on the sketch, adding necessary words, playing with concepts:

I tried flopping the image to see what would happen, and I liked it.

Then I experimented a bit with different combinations of lettering treatments, adding and subtracting elements to see what effect each change would have:

At this point, I checked back in with the SCS folks, and sent them a link to their web proof with all the above images. We met via telephone, and examined and discussed the images on our computer screens. They were delighted with the design of the slug, and we were in agreement that the final image was the strongest.

the process continues >


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