Logo Process: WordPress Charleston
I’ve been inspired by watching some really cool webinars showing graphic artists discussing their processes. I’m going to follow suit and walk through my basic logo process. Specifically, I’d like to use a recent example, WordPress Charleston—a local WordPress user group. For starters, here’s how the final version turned out.
DISCLAIMER: I use the term “process” loosely. I still have tons to learn and my process is constantly evolving according to deadlines, budget, industry, caffeine level, etc. Also, no two projects (or clients) are ever the same. Sometimes I skip steps. Sometimes I add more. That said, there are a few key milestones I try to hit: Research, Sketch, Design and Polish.
Context is everything so I do my homework. WordPress, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a web framework used by millions of programmers to make websites. For this project, it was important to highlight the unique aspect of Charleston while also acknowledging the progressive tech-edge of WordPress. The logo needed to be recognizable on a local (Charleston) and global (WordPress) level.
After developing a solid understanding of what the client was looking for, I took to the sketchbook. This is one of my favorite parts. You’ll notice none of these look anything like the finished product—more on that later. Initially, I wanted to find a way to depict the “W” in WordPress without using their mark. Sketching was a good place to test this out. Quite often, I’ll end up completing two rounds of sketching. The first is for rough ideas and the second is more focused. Depending on the client, I may show them the sketches.
After floating the sketches to the client, we decided to develop a few. I brought my scanned drawings into Adobe Illustrator and started fleshing them out. At this stage, the ideas pour out— some big, some small. Some good. Most aren’t. If I’m not watching the clock, I can spend hours going down rabbit trails of design minutia. There is a wonderful improvisational aspect to this phase of the process, but it requires discipline to stay on track. For this reason, I love tight deadlines.
Next, I reviewed the digital designs with the client. And here, we hit a little snag. We had some interesting directions, but the client and I agreed that we weren’t quite there yet. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with our winner. This time I stuck closer to some foolproof wisdom: Keep It Simple Stupid.
Once we nailed down the direction, I dug into the final details. How many colors? Add texture? Which fonts? These small (but important) details make all the difference in the world. Sometimes the last 10% of a project takes the most time. We ended up sticking with a traditional serif font for “WordPress”. For the remaining text I used a modern san serif to provide contrast and increased readability.
As for colors, there are always so many options that it can get overwhelming. After much exploration we ended up using a traditional brown as a base color and a handful of brighter options for the sky (below). The leftmost logo is the primary version.
And there you have it! I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out and the client was great. He was a fantastic resource throughout the whole process. As I look back on this logo, I see things I’d like to tweak and improve (on the logo and in my process). If I did it again, I’d focus on getting rid of weaker ideas sooner, but that’s always the struggle, isn’t it? The key for me is not to fall in love with any ideas too soon – if possible.
So what do you think? Do you have a different process? Is it set in stone? Feel free to add your comments below.