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March 6, 2020

Process: From Strategy to Design development

Logo first

In the previous article, I revealed to you my process in defining the strategy (if you haven't read it yet, here it is). Now that we know more about our communication and the experience we intend to provide our customers, it's time to develop the visual identity. We will start with the logo, because its impact on what comes next is tremendous. Put simply, it's the one symbol that people will associate with everything that we do.

The rules

I won't go much more into details here as there are already thousands of tutorial for a good logo, but as a reminder, it must be:

  • Simple
  • Memorable
  • Timeless
  • Communicative
  • Scalable - it has to work from 24px small to 5 meters tall
  • Unique

With that in mind, I started sketching what could be our symbol. Symbols are not always mandatory, but in our case it is, considering the versatility they provide. It can act as a simple graphic on merch and answer most screen size issues faced with mobile devices.

Sketching is essential to come up with ideas, and immediately validate those that are interesting enough to be pursued.

I'm quite fond of the idea of combining multiple meanings into one symbol, as it gives different levels of reading, increasing the chances to be memorized. A beautiful but empty logo will only get short attention. Once I figured out a way to display it, I worked on improving the shape, going back and forth between notebooks to compare and finesse details.

Then you refine your shape until it really flows and matches your expectations. As you can see, I took Pinterest's logo as reference, because of its organic shape nicely drawn.

Then I move on to digitizing the best candidates, see what works and what doesn't. What works on paper doesn't necessarily work on screen. It's basically trial and error until something clicks.

Here is the first version that I came up with. But it wasn't as good as we need it to be. So I refined again and again. Until I achieved a form that is aesthetically pleasing and conveys everything that it is supposed to.

Closer, but not quite right. Let's break down what I did next.

Here's what it looks like with some colors, revealing the premises of the brand identity.

Now that we have our final shape and a first take on colors, time to refer to the strategy, and ensure the result matches perfectly. Here I felt the palette was a bit off, not attractive enough to our audience.

Excerpt from the brand guidelines, which helps us compare our design's feel to the strategy defined previously

Much better, don't you think? Here's what happened: I tweaked the colors for accessibility by increasing contrast, and picked a shade of green that's closer to cyan than yellow. A feeling of peace, freshness, and modernity radiates from the combination of colors, and the calmness of the typography. Nothing extravagant, just like our meals.

The guidelines

Now that we know where we're going, we need to establish a set of rules that will prevent us from drifting away from the original intent. Keeping a steady course is what will deeply help your business. Enter, the brand book, aka brand bible, aka brand identity guidelines, aka identity standards...

You get it, there are many names for what essentially serve the same purpose. Be the guardian of your brand's integrity. Here are a few samples of what you can expect to find. I adapted it to the current needs, but it can encompass anything that is visual and related to your activity - think signage, stamp etc.

It's always good to have a few pages that reformulates the strategy. It gives the reader a good foundation to learn why the design is that way and creates space for interpretation.

That document is meant to answer all the questions you might have. It should not be considered a set of fixed rules, but as helpers for you to maintain harmony while continuing to iterate and evolve around the brand's identity through all your touch-points.

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