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Entries in Logos (17)


Business Opportunities Weblog Network Logo Design

In late 2006, Dane Carlson of the Business Opportunities Weblog Network contracted me BOWN Final Logoat MakaluMedia, to design an identity for his weblog network.

The Business Opportunities Weblog Network (BOWN) is described as a "moderated list of legitimate business opportunities for entrepreneurs", which features lists of business ideas, and tips.

Dane has been blogging since 2001, and wanted a new corporate identity that was fresh and clean, to help realign his blog.

So, Dane and I started through our normal process of getting information from goals, the business, his color and style likes and dislikes, and other useful information to help me develop good design ideas.

Dane liked the general idea of a lightbulb, so I included this idea, along with several other ideas, to make sure we explored all options.

While "Business Opportunities Weblog Network" was descriptive, it's a really long name to deal with when creating a logo design. It would be challenging to be find a way to list the full name and not let the words dominate the identity.

Another challenge, related to the long name, was keeping the identity simple and easily recognizable. How do you show a business network in a single symbol?

Once Dane's information was read and digested, I brought out the sketchbook and pencil to get ideas on paper. In 2 rounds of sketches I produced several interesting ideas, incorporating the lightbulb and other ideas for representations of a network. Here are a few selected sketches:

1. This idea featured "Business Opportunities" larger, and a briefcase fashioned from triangular shapes, woth "Weblog Network" tucked under the larger type.

2. On this concept, I've replaced the briefcase symbol with an interconnected triangular grid symbol, to emphasize the network nature of the name.

3. Here I'm indicating a stylized lightbulb to the left, Business with most emphasis and "Opportunities" and "Weblog Network" descending in size and importance.

4. The winning idea shows a lightbulb within a circular symbol on the left, and an alternate dark version on the right. The idea was to show the lightbulb as a node on a network, incorporating both a bulb and network in the logo.

bown-bw.gifBlack & White Art
Once the winning concept of a lightbulb on a network, inside of a circle containing the type was selected, I moved to produce the black and white version of the logo for Dane. The black and white phase went pretty quickly, and we both liked how the concept translated from sketch into black and white art. The next challenge was color.

Color Art
In the color phase, I wanted to show Dane some color varieties, but didn't want to do too many at one time, so I selected 3 color themes with both flat and gradated options, and presented them:


Our eyes were pretty immediately drawn to blue, orange and green. I also liked the blue/green option, though the orange center circle of the first idea (B&C) really seemed to convey a warmth to balance the cool crispness of the green and blue.

After a little deliberation, Dane chose the blue/orange/green option as the winner.

Just last week, Dane completed his redesign of the Business Opportunities Weblog Network weblog, and used the new logo design to shape his redesign. I really like how the colors feel warm, yet crisp and clean, and after not seeing the logo between delivery and appearance, I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

My thanks go to Dane Carlson for choosing to work with me and MakaluMedia on his new identity. We both had a great time collaborating and I think we came up with a fun, attractive logo design.


CGI Interactive Logo Design

Last year, after Paul Bradley came across Ian Landsman's Creating a Business Logo article, he asked if we could design a new logo for his company, cgi Interactive. One of my passions as design director at MakaluMedia is logo design and corporate identity, so I was excited to take on the project.

Paul's firm. cgi Interactive, is a software development company based in the North West of England, who develop custom web based applications for businesses. The CGI moniker had its touch-point in the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) programming done for clients in the early days of the Internet.

Paul wanted to maintain a connection to the past by keeping the CGI name, while coming up with a strong, clean logo to represent his company, on both the web and with other print materials (letterhead, envelopes and business cards).

Questions & Research
I started as I always do: asking questions of Paul about his company, goals, taste and thinking and doing my own gathering of information about the company. While it might seem trivial, the information gathering phase is critical — these are the words I ponder, as I prepare to sketch logo concepts that capture the company in a simple, iconic form.

cgi-sketches.jpgFrom my initial research, it seemed the logomark should be simple and clean, yet still have a bit of a human touch, as Paul mentioned a history of "bespoke" or custom software development.

Sketching Ideas
As I sketched ideas out, I began focusing on a mark made of the letters C, G and I — using them to form a compact object.

Rounded letter-forms turned into squared letter-forms. I liked the idea of the C wrapping itself around the I to form a "G" at the intersection. To reinforce the "I" character, I used a lower cased variation to take advantage of the dot.

Black & White Explorations
We both liked this direction, so my next step was to jump into Adobe Illustrator and create the letters in black and white vector form, where I could explore the relationships of the C, G and i elements:


Notice how the horizontal stroke of the "i" character extends into the counter of the capital C character, to form a G. Then, the dot of the i character fills out the upper right corner of the mark. I like creating logos in black and white first — to assure they work well in their simplest form.

The mark also created an unintentional, yet nice side effect — notice the appearance of of a person on the right, extending an arm into the C, with the dot of the "i" acting as the head? What a nice coincidence!

Color Explorations
Next up was the color phase, which was quite straightforward, as Paul knew he wanted cool blues and greens used. I explored some complimentary warm colors with the mark, but we kept coming back to a combination of dark sea green and a sky blue to capture a solid, professional feel:


Notice also the font used is a Myriad/Gill Sans blend with a little custom tweaking done on the letters. The "cgi" text was kept in the sky blue, and "Interactive" stayed in the dark sea green, corresponding to the colors chosen for the mark.

Paul was very pleased with the final logo design. He felt it captured the professional look he wanted to portray, yet still maintained a human touch, to represent the custom, collaborative projects cgi Interactive does. I had fun working on the logo design, facing the challenge and seeing a unique mark emerge from the letters themselves.

Since designing Paul's logo in 2005, we've had many interesting and challenging logo projects come from new and existing clients, keeping me happily busy doing what I love — logo design.

If you like this approach to logo design, and need logo or corporate identity design work, just drop me a line and let's talk! :-)


MakaluMedia Corporate Identity Portfolio

Makalu Corporate ID PortfolioSince the end of 2004, I've been actively pursuing corporate identity design through the company I work for, MakaluMedia.

The first in a long line of logos was created for Ian Landsman, his firm UserScape and his first product, HelpSpot. In fact, Ian wrote the post Creating a Business Logo back in January 2005, describing the logo design experience from his perspective.

Since the that first web 2.0 logo project, and having been featured in Bob Walsh's Micro-ISV book, I've been receiving many requests to help companies and individuals design their corporate identities. It's been wonderful helping create clean, clear and effective logos for each one of our clients.

Last week I realized we had no central page on the MakaluMedia site, where logo or related information could be viewed. This week I've created a new page where you can view a select collection of logos case studies:

MakaluMedia Group Design Portfolio: Corporate Identity

The portfolio explains why Makalu's logo design process is different, along with 4 case studies and images of completed logos. My goal is to continually expand this portfolio page, making it a handy reference for anyone seeking to learn more about our logo design services before they hire us.

I still intend on going in in depth on the design process for logos I create on the Rohdesign Weblog, as I've done for the Outer Level and LiquidFitness logos. I enjoy sharing my thought process and more detailed sketches here in the weblog. From the comments I've received, readers enjoy it as well.

I'm hoping the two pages will compliment each other nicely, with the MakaluMedia Corporate Identity page providing the overview of each logo design, while the weblog can offer richer details, sketches and the thinking behind each design.

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Outer Level Logo Design

Logo.pngI thoroughly enjoy logo design work, so when MakaluMedia clients talk about their experience in the logo design process I'm always interested. Just yesterday, Jon Trainer of Outer Level, posted a detailed article describing his experiences of collaborating on a logo design with me. Jon develops applications, including the game Bullfrog and the utility License Keeper for Mac OS as well as software development consulting.

I thought it would be interesting to quote some of Jon's post here and provide my own thoughts.

Keywords and Goals:

Thankfully, this is where Mike comes in. Something I didn’t think about prior to hiring Mike, but would recommend to anyone looking for a graphic designer, is that you look for someone who can “consult” with you on your image. Instead of just asking what I wanted my logo to look like, Mike sent a short list of questions to solidify his feel for my tastes, personality, and desired company image.

One thing I've found helpful is to describe goals you're shooting for when designing a logo. What kinds of feelings should it evoke in a viewer? Should it convey strength, warmth, honesty? While these might seem to be nebulous words, I think setting goals in words helps clients and myself get focus before the sketch process even begins.

Dead End Ideas:

A little over a week later, Mike sent me two full pages of pencil sketches incorporating my descriptors and his own feelings from the Outer Level name. outerlevel-sketch-01.jpgSome of his ideas reflected ones I have had in mind for years — probably the more obvious and common images that Outer Level brings to mind. These are precisely the ones I didn’t want. I was looking to avoid the common and the obvious. Also in the sketches were some ideas that immediately captured my imagination.

Lately I've found it good to go down the 'obvious' paths to prove that the idea either has some potential — or that it's a complete dead end.

Leaving 'dead end' ideas right in my sketches, while clearly explaining why they are dead ends to my clients helps cleanse the dead end idea out of the system, allowing me to try other areas of exploration and 'let go" of the dead end idea.

There is of course, a risk a client will like a dead end idea. However, because I always provide comprehensive explanations with my sketches, I've found clients trust my judgement when I call out a dead end.

Client Collaboration

There were many bits in these sketches that I really liked. So I sent back my comments along with my own sketches because I tend to think better in pictures than in words.


When Jon sent me his sketches I was very excited to see him getting into the process so deeply! I'm a proponent of visual thinking, so seeing my sketches encourage a client to sketch was wonderful to see.


To this point, the process had been quite fun, though challenging. I had no idea what was in store now that it was time for color. I envisioned blue, red, and even green as potential main colors and wasn’t surprised that I wasn’t alone in this train of thought.

Color is maybe the toughest part of the logo process in my opinion. Colors carry have emotional impact, which is why I like to leave color to the end of the process — this helps void choosing a logo based on the color rather than a great concept.

Unfortunately, once I saw these colors applied to the logo design they didn’t project the feel I was looking for. But, I really liked the warm red-orange sunrise-like background Mike had incorporated. So I searched out some photos of planets, nebulas, etc. and sent them to Mike as a sample of colors that appeared in space. Maybe, these would help change the feel of the logo.

As it turns out, these “space colors” lead us in the right direction.


It's rare to nail down final color selections on the first round because color is so complex. This is why it's so important to collaborate with clients. In this case, Jon sent some reference to give me an idea of his tastes, from which I was able to draw out some new options.

Logo.pngThe entire process really is a back and forth; client feedback and my expertise, combined to arrive at a final logomark that's attractive, practical and pleases both the client and designer.

What intrigues me is how fun this process can be, particularly for clients. All of the clients who have collaborated in their own logo process have commented on how much they enjoyed it. Knowing clients get a logo they love and a process that's fun makes for a very satisfying experience for everyone.

If you need of a logo and are intrigued by this design process, drop me a line.

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Liquid Fitness Logo Design

It's been a while since I've talked about logo design on the blog, so having just completed a very fun and satisfying logo design for Liquid Fitness, I thought I'd share the process.

Liquid Fitness LLC, is the personal swim training consultancy of Roberta Challener who has spent years coaching in swimming — from children and adults to members of the USA Swim Team. Roberta had read Ian Landsman's blog post on Creating a Business Logo, and inquired about logo design services at MakaluMedia. After a proposal and some email discussion, Roberta hired us for the project.

As with all logo projects, I began by sketching pen and pencil concepts in my trusty Miquelrius sketchbook. I ended up with two pages full of ideas, numbered them and forwarded the sketches to Roberta for her comments. Of the various sketches, one concept in particular stood out on both pages — that of a stylized swimmer:


I liked the feeling of these sketches, though there was something bothersome about the single arm. stylistically, it works, but I felt I ought to try a version with an entire swimmer as well. So, I tried a few more ideas (this time in pencil) exploring the full upper bodied swimmer:



These seemed just right — and Roberta agreed with my thoughts in her comments. From these sketches I began drawing in Illustrator, turning the pencil concept into a stylized, black and white logomark:


In the end I opted for a flat look rather than the “liquid” look for the mark, as it would be clean and sleek, as well as not trying too hard to convey the liquid theme with 3D styling.

Next was the challenge of finding a typeface and type treatment to compliment the logo mark. I wanted to show emphasis with bold and regular fonts, so explored several font variations with Roberta. She especially liked the modern-looking font, Futura, so we had our font:


Not how nicely the mark blends into the open spaces on top of the letter forms. I am always challenged with LLCs as they feel like add-ons to logos, so in this case I tucked the LLC in below the type, equally deep as the descender on the “q” of Liquid.

With the logo form settled on, we moved to color. I wanted to use cool blue and green colors for the mark, to help forward the idea of water, liquid and swimming. I created a set of color variations for Roberta, and she chose a two-toned blue as her favorite:


I liked this color version as well, as the dual blue tones seemed to add a bit of depth. The lighter blue helps equalize the bolder 'Liquid' part of the logotype and downplays the LLC as well, without letting it get lost in the shuffle.

Overall I was very pleased with the process and how well the logo turned out. Working with Roberta was great fun — she always knew what she wanted, which helped in decision making especially. I think Roberta was equally pleased with the logo, which always makes me feel great about a project.

I'll try to be a bit more regular about showcasing logo work from MakaluMedia here, along with descriptions of the process — apparently these are popular with readers and those exploring logo work. And of course, should you need corporate identity services, drop me a line!

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