One valuable logo design lesson I learned from my latest project

A case study on the importance of getting to know the ins and out of your company when you're building your brand.

I want to talk to you about something that is really important when you’re having your brand designed or if you’re designing your brand yourself.

You really have to get to know the business that you’re branding —do your research. Even the smallest details of your company can be of immense importance when you’re developing your brand. The important details need to be discussed and included in the design brief.

THE LOGO DESIGN LESSON AND HOW I GOT THERE

I sort of found that out the hard way when I was developing a new logo for Stairway Productions —The Sound and Visual Company, that I finished last week. I learned a valuable lesson from working with Menno on this project:

The details of the company and the environment that it operates in, are crucial to the development of a brand.

Some background: Stairway Productions delivers audio setups —like speakers, mixers, amps and stuff like that for event and parties. And they also provide the visual part —like light equipment and light installations.

Menno told me that his company tends to operate in the background as a facilitator, but usually when I develop branding for a company I help them stand out from the crowd. This was an interesting paradox to work with during the design process as we needed to find a way to stand out in public for promotion purposes, but blend into the background at the actual event.

However when working at bigger events and with different partners (even with competitors), they need to distinguish themselves —with subtle gestures of course, as they need to stay in the background.

Developing a logo for a company like this was a brand new experience for me. Let me show you what I learned while I guide you through the design process:

START WITH THE BRANDING WORKSHOP

When I start a project with a new client I always have a branding workshop with them to get to know them and the company. Through this workshop I find out about their values, needs, wants and other details that are important when you’re developing a brand.

The branding workshop with Stairway Productions was no different.

Atelier Pan | Logo design lesson

— Branding workshop with Brand Deck. *Find out what Brand Deck can do for your brand.

All this information is then used to define the design brief, but in short we defined six key values that needed to be represented in the brand (in this case the logo specifically):

  1. Technical 
  2. High-End
  3. Practical
  4. Dependable
  5. Multi-faceted
  6. Approachable

After the workshop I started to work on the first concepts for the logo.

Still with the mindset of designing a logo to make the business stand out in the crowd, I developed three concepts for Stairway Productions. I believed that the High-End value could be a great way to distinguish the company from it’s competitors, so I dominantly focused on that value.

Here are the first concepts I presented to Menno:

Atelier Pan | Logo design lesson

Concept 1: Abstract icon for a stairway

Atelier Pan | Logo design lesson

Concept 2: Abstract depiction of a stairway // faders on a mixer

Atelier Pan | Logo design lesson

Concept 3: In the spotlight // the crown (as in 'being the best') of sound and visual productions

HOW I MISSED THE TARGET

After I showed Menno the first concepts, he mentioned that the company operates in a world dominated my men and he wanted the logo for the company to embody that. He used words like: iconic, masculine, tough/robust and angular.

Next to these abstract parameters, he also mentioned some practical constraints. The logo needed to be suitable to be used on a small scale (e.g. on labels for wires) as well as on a large scale (e.g. on a van). Operating in the background required the logo to work on black or dark blue (a sort of unwritten rule for the industry). And it had to be paintable on a flight case with a template, paint and a roller.

The concepts that I had presented to Menno did not meet these requirements. I had focused on the High-End value too much, hadn’t considered the environment that the company operates in and neglected some of the practical applications of the logo.

In short, I had missed the target.

Great feedback from Menno by the way. That’s why I’m such a big fan of collaborating with my clients. I feel that developing a brand needs to be done as partners and not as some maverick that operates on his own. I always work closely with my clients and encourage feedback at all times.

RE-ITERATE, ADAPT AND LEARN

So, back to the drawing board I went —this time armed with the right intel to hit the target.

With a focus shift from the High-End value to a more Iconic, Masculine, Tough/Robust and Angular look & feel, I developed a new concept to present to Menno:

Atelier Pan | Logo design lesson

New concept: Stairway stands for an iconic A/V (Audio / Visual) experience

We were getting somewhere! Menno was really happy with the new concept. With some minor tweaks the logo would be perfect for Stairway Productions. The ’S’ needed to be more prominent and we needed to add colour to the mix.

THE FINAL RESULT

In the end I presented the final logo, ended up with a satisfied client and I learned this valuable lesson:

The details of the company and the environment that it operates in, are crucial to the development of a brand.

Here’s a few impressions of the final logo design and the changes after the last feedback:

Atelier Pan | Logo design lesson
Atelier Pan | Logo design lesson
Atelier Pan | Logo design lesson

The communication with Menno was really good and it helped a lot that we sort of 'clicked'. When you don't have that with your designer, projects like this can end up a (costly) disaster. To prevent situations like that always ask your designer these 10 questions before hiring them.

LESSONS LEARNED

I learned a valuable lesson from this project. And I hope you did too by reading this article. Let me finish by ask you this question:

Does your current logo really represent your brand? 

Or could you use some help with that? I'd like to give you a gift card for a 20min. call with me to help you get more from your logo. All you need to do is answer the question in the comments below.

As soon as your comment is placed, I'll send you your gift card, so you can schedule your 20min. call. 

Atelier Pan | 2015 Annual Report | Gift card

With pleasure,

Simon

Atelier Pan — Branding for Conscious Entrepreneurs

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