April 09, 2009
Submitted by Richard
The Design Process Behind Our New Logo
This is a guest post by Richard Hatter of Hired Guns Creative. It is a revised version of an article he published on April 3, 2009. As many of you may know, we were recently featured on Smashing Magazine’s ‘Drawing Inspiration From Creative Logos’ for the design of the logo for The Alliance for Arts and Culture. We are deeply honoured by the recognition. We worked closely with AAC to achieve a design that matched their organization’s philosophy and represented the artistic community they service. We thought it would only be fitting to look back at bringing this logo to the surface.
This was a really interesting project right from day one. There were strict goals laid out for what this logo had to achieve by the client, which happened to be committee of creatives. Every designer’s nightmare! This logo was going to have a lot more applications than the normal letterhead, fax cover sheet, business card, and web approach. This had to be able to shrink down to button size and be blown up to wall size for their building. They needed it to work in full color and in black and white. It had to stand alone as well as with the supporting text. They wanted to produce a simple shape/icon that would show all facets of the creative and cultural world coming together. Oh, and it had to be timeless… How am I going to do such a thing? This was now a serious challenge. All said and done there were around 380 - 400 icons produced! And just between you, me, and the world, they ended up choosing the very first one I showed. I find it funny that people sill complain that a logo only works if it’s simple color and simple shapes. It’s 2009 - this isn’t your grandfather’s design world anymore! Technology has increased in our industry vastly. Printing has gotten tighter and the web is king for marketing now. This allows us as designers to experiment with how we turn heads. I wasn’t afraid to use particles to create a solid shape, nor was I hesitant to lay a gradient over the full color version. I make sure that all my logos still work in black and white - this is just good design practice. But when it comes to the full color version let’s have some fun! Blue. The amount of times I’ve been requested to use blue would blow your mind. The door was wide open here so I was going to stay away from blue altogether. I first started off with a burnt amber orange which ended up bringing in too much emotion to the design. This isn’t drama class. It needed to be optimistic and new. GREEN! It was time to play with green, so off I went… I’ve had a deep rooted love with Helvetica for a long time now. It’s the perfect san serif font for so many reasons, but I’m not going to go off about my love affair with Helvetica. I chose it is because it’s highly legible big or small. The small ‘a’ has sexy curves in all the right places, so this was a natural choice for me. And I played with about 40 different type faces, which was a blast! Choosing a particle design made a lot of sense to me. How else do you represent all the disciplines coming together cohesively? And still keep it fresh? I’ll say strongly that the answer is not with arrows or swooshie lines. Those are very dated trends. There was a lot more on my list of the dead and dated trends that I discovered while I played. I knew I had to keep it high-end, corporate, and fresh. As you’ll notice I try to stay away from overly expressive designs with my work - I like my design tight and clean. I wasn’t going to do a circle of abstract people holding hands. I need the icon to be an ICON, a stand alone. Oh, and I placed every single circle by hand. Being a perfectionist, I don’t think I am every really satisfied with my work. There is always something I can tweak or adjust to make things a little more perfect. I think the logo for this client got me as close to my design sweet spot as is possible without an unlimited budget and time limit… I hope you enjoy it. I would like to throw out some props to Sean Fenzl for his amazing product photography. ———————— UPDATE, Apr.6/09: The Alliance for Arts has provided us with some action shots of the how the logo looks on the front of their office. The version done for their office door was done all in white. (Photos by Peter Boychuk)