July 1, 2015

The Logo Evolution

A brand: it’s more than just a mark or a logo. It’s the first building block in creating a complete consumer experience.

At Shea, we always start with the brand, which is why our team goes beyond interior design and architecture to include experts in marketing, graphic design and production. Employing this creative diversity allows us to design from the beginning: building the brand and identity, then translating that to every consumer touch point, inside and outside the space. Everything a consumer sees, touches, and smells is valuable in creating an entire experience.

This process is seamless; we start with a business idea, create it into a concept, then translate that through to brand, graphics, interiors and architecture with a completely integrated team. The end result is a successful and holistic consumer experience. Within that experience, it’s easy to overlook the individual pieces, such as a logo if we did our job right.

We want to take a step back and celebrate some of the individual pieces, namely recent branding and identity work from our designers. It’s a monumental task to develop a name and build a logo that will uniquely identify a concept and become the foundation for the experience. The recent project lineup of logos, brand guidelines, and marketing materials has taken us everywhere from retail stores to cafes, to tea bars, to international fast food.

Let’s take a look at how we do it:

First, the name. In some cases, we’re given a name. In other cases, we begin from scratch. Naming can be frustrating, as it’s equal parts strategic and arbitrary. Are you funny and whimsical? Are you descriptive and simple? We start with the key points of positioning and personality, and look into inspiration from people, places and descriptions. We brainstorm, we make the list (NO idea stays off the list), then we narrow it down.

Once that list is narrowed, it’s important to judge names visually, not just audibly. That’s where the brand look and logo begins.

We build visual experiences with purpose throughout every color, line, corner and mark. That process has to begin with the big picture: the entire story.

Our team starts with extensive research and exploration, immersing completely into the world of the client and analyzing the industry. They also look beyond the direct industry for other inspirations. Many of our designers supplement this process with sketching, journaling and compiling visual libraries of all of the prevalent shapes, colors and spaces that start to surface.

Now it’s time to change shoes. The next important transition in our designers research involves taking them out of the situation as an analyst, and re-installing them as the consumer. Who are they? Where are they coming from? What other places do they live in?

Understanding the consumer profile sends them to the final and possibly most critical step understanding the brand story. Building relationships with our clients is one of biggest focuses at Shea, and this is why we tell their story.

From there it’s about understanding what is current, but also keeping in mind a need for timelessness, and being aware of where the client falls on that spectrum. It’s a grand process of narrowing, narrowing, narrowing down, from inspiration boards, to rounds of logo iterations. Looking at color, images, borders, marks, sketching, revising, editing and simplifying. Our designers use their research to accurately articulate the brand story through graphics that will capture, engage and resonate with the right consumers.

When the right logo is finally nailed down, it goes through the final test. Can it be used consistently and successfully in many formats and contexts? Does it help define or differentiate the concept within the fabric of its surroundings?

Once it’s final, it calls for celebration.

The logo is only the first component of the brand. From there, our team develops the tool box for the brand identity including colors, fonts, images, usage examples, do’s and don’ts. What does it look like on a business card? On an entrance sign? On a promo piece? On the web site? How does it inspire the space?

A successful brand will strengthen and support in every application:

After journeying through the underground logic behind the graphic design process, the consumer research, and the rule of thirds practice, the Shea team has proven that what goes on all day in that world of logos and Illustrator is in fact, not magic.

Well, maybe a little.

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