Category: Graphic Design

Learning to KISS

A common misconception with logo design is that it has to describe everything there is to know about your company in one single brand mark. Both amateur and professional designers are all guilty, at one point or another, of being “too clever” and creating a horrendously overcomplicated logo. Simply put, before starting a design or advertising project it is vital that you learn how to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).

For example, this coffee shop logo to the left begins with a fairly basic and simple black and white logo design (top right). At a quick glance, the logo works for the most part – we’re not quite sold on the font choice and the coffee cup illustration – but when the designer applies it to cups and coaster concepts, things really start to get messy.

A lot of times, people and designers feel the need to illustrate the business name in their logos. In this case, rolling hills with a hint of road was added to convey the message of “coffee on the go”, and literally illustrate the “Espresso Lane”. This concept may have worked, but the inclusion of the coffee cup begins to complicate things and makes the visuals feel a bit crowded. Throw in some steam for good measure  and you have yourself all the workings of a bad logo.

With so many elements and ideas, the once straightforward design has now become a struggle to look at, with the main message, (which should be the Company name) now takes second place to all of the other graphic elements. In short, the designer should have remembered to KISS.

Can you think of any examples of logos that might have fallen victim to too much creativity? How does your  logo work to promote your business? Click here to schedule a design/logo consultation today.

Creating Your Logo

It’s no secret that there are a number of affordable (i.e. $200 or less) online services and options that you could use to design and create a logo (or entire brand package for that matter).

But rather than wasting your time trying to justify a $2,400+ price tag by breaking down the entire planning/design process to you –  I’d like to instead take a moment to quickly highlight two main areas, along with a few important items that you should focus on when creating a logo; regardless if you are working with a Professional Designer, Agency or Design App.

1. The Design Brief

No matter who’s designing your logo, first and foremost, you should always start with a basic design brief or brand style guide. While it doesn’t need to be a long or elaborate document, it does need to address the following:
  • Name of Company
  • Products/Services
  • Competitors (optional)
  • Target Market
  • Values
  • Vision

Example: Green Apron HI Design Brief

To give you an idea of how this is put into practice when creating a logo, here is a rough outline of the design brief, created and used for Green Apron HI’s logo design.
  • Name: Green Apron HI
  • Product/Services: Heart healthy catering + meal delivery services
  • Target Market: Business Professionals in the Downtown Area of Honolulu
  • Values: Clean eating, sustainability, “support local”
  • Vision: “Become the premiere plant based delivery meal service and caterer on Oahu”

2. Your Brand Mark

When creating a logo design always remember to:
  • Use your Design Brief. From your color choices to font selection, everything contained in your logo should reflect the ideas and values found in your design brief/brand style
  • Keep it simple.  Remember: logos are symbols, not illustrations. And while there are definitely exceptions to the rule, it’s important you don’t overcomplicate your brand’s message with a bunch of graphic images or decorative font styles.
  • Think outside the box. Your brand should be both special and unique – avoid using the same generic stock graphics and imagery as your competitors.

Tips:

  • Consider a variety of options. Whether you are crowd sourcing, commissioning or creating the design yourself, it is important to get as many ideas down on paper – even if 99% of them absolutely suck.
  • Create a color palette. It’s important that the colors you choose not only reflect and reinforce your brand’s message, but also don’t overwhelm the design itself. Once again, keep it simple and try your best to contain your palette to 4 colors or less.
  • Choose your fonts wisely. Last but not least, make sure that the fonts you choose not only reflect your brand’s message, but are also able to be read at a quick glance – in other words: Avoid using calligraphy, scripts and other highly decorative typefaces.
If you are interested in seeing how these guidelines were applied to Green Apron HI’s logo design, you can read more about the design process here.

Have questions or need help creating a brand style or identity for your business? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation for your business today!

The Art Of Minimalism

The irony of living in a tech filled world is: The more we try to simplify our lives through technology, the more complicated and convoluted it seems to become.

In the early 1900’s German Designer, Lucian Bernhard developed the idea of Sachplakat (aka minimalist poster style). This deliberate move away from the artistic complexity of Art Nouveau was revolutionary to say the least, and was the precursor to Apple’s minimalistic branding and ad campaigns.

While there are those who still favor complex designs; with today’s excess of media options and noise from social media, whether they like it or not, today’s Designers and Marketers have been forced to simplify and declutter the way they communicate with their audiences.

In other words: Even though you might be paying upwards of $1,000 for an ad space, you don’t have to showcase every single one of your products or menu items, let alone write an entire essay about them  – because the truth is, no one’s going to read it anyway.

Stop trying to showcase all of your services and products and just remember to Keep It Simple Stupid!

Spend your time picking out the single most important thing you want people to know about you and/or your businesses/brand, then find ways to communicate that message in 10 words or less.

This way, whether or not a person spends 3 seconds or 5 minutes looking at your content, at least you know they got your message loud and clear.

Need help optimizing your brand and marketing designs? We’d love to help. Contact us for a free design consultation today.

What’s Your Type?

One of the very few things I remember from my College Typography class, is my Professor, Clifford Rushe’s, anal attention to detail and his utter disdain for free internet fonts – which, at the time, I thought were the greatest thing since canned Spam.

At the time I merely dismissed it as him being old fashioned…but it’s something that has always stuck with me over the years.

Ironically, what really changed the way I approached and viewed typography was my fascination with Wildstyle Graffiti…which, due to its counterculture roots, is an art form often frowned upon by the majority of veteran industry professionals.

 

Despite the fact that I usually have no idea what any of it says, trying to read and make sense of the abstracted shapes and letterforms really made me start to notice and appreciate the composition of the design, finally understanding what my College Professor was trying to teach me all along:

Typography is, more or less, a collection of images/symbols that, when properly combined, have the power to communicate complicated thoughts, ideas and emotions.

Whether you’re designing your own logo or hiring a designer; before going with the “coolest” font you’ve just pulled off the internet, stop and ask yourself the following:
  1. What instantly comes to mind when I look at this font and what does it say about my business?
  2. Can I read it in 2 seconds or less?
  3. Have I ever seen this used anywhere else?
  4. What type of feelings arise when looking at this?
With that being said, here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the right font style to go along with your design:

 

Legibility – While I would recommend avoiding Decorative, Script and Calligraphy fonts (mainly for legibility purposes), if you are going to use any of these types of fonts in your design, always make sure it can be quickly and easily read. The same rule applies for creating your own typeface as well. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.

 

Simplicity – While you don’t need to necessarily use a plain san serif font, you should always try to avoid getting too creative and going wild with fancy flourishes and a kaleidoscope of colors. Remember the KISS Rule and “Keep ISimple Stupid.”

 

Aesthetic – One of the main drawbacks to using stock/free fonts is the fact that they sometimes don’t fully work with the flow and aesthetic of the design. In other words, pay attention to spacing issues (aka Kerning), connecting lines and the symmetry of the design; especially when working with script fonts. And if you are using a font that isn’t quite working with the design, don’t be afraid to modify it to suit your needs – I’d recommend using Adobe Illustrator.

 

And last but not least: Don’t settle for the quick and easy solution. Take your time to really develop and create a Typeface that truly expresses your Brand and separates you from the rest of the crowd.