In general, I’m a minimalist. I have three pieces of furniture in my bedroom, and if it weren’t democratic I’d have one. I don’t own tie tacks and I only wear cuff links with two shirts out of my entire wardrobe. And when I create a logo, I like for it to be so simple that a four-year-old could make it out of clay. But now and then I workshop a project with a client, and the client requests revisions that amount to “adding lots of stuff”, and the result turns out really rad.
Take, for instance, this logo we’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks. Its first rendition is two components, a word and a stylized (super-simplified) saw blade. The saw blade breaks off to be used as the ‘bug’, while the type can stand alone to be embroidered on a hat or something that can’t be rendered in a lot of detail. Because this company manufactures vegetation control equipment, a circular saw blade is a fitting symbol. Notice that we omitted severed tree branches, saw dust and a stick figure operating the equipment we’ll be selling. That’s because logos should be symbols that come to be synonymous with your offerings and your mission. To convey in detail what it is you do, you need a brochure. Anyway, at this point, I would call this logo done, and it could be.
But to comply with the client’s wishes of emulating the logo of an affiliated company, I also tilted the saw blade to look like it was coming at the viewer, and it actually looks pretty cool.
The other initial renditions were on evolutionary paths of their own, but dropping off the running, one by one, as this concept was refined. See, a design process for something so completely essential as a logo is a process of selection, the inferior strains dying off as new ones evolve from their predecessors. Sometimes it takes a lot of work, which is why pricing on logos startles newcomers to professional design. It’s a long, involved process of refinement that involves a lot of finding out, a lot of drawing and sometimes a little bit of focus grouping to get right.
So after this version posted, the client asked to see us open the center of the saw blade (To even more closely emulate the other company’s logo. The affiliation is actually quite close.), and it resulted in the coolest version to date. It’s dynamic, balanced and interesting. You’ll also notice that the type sped up in this rendition. Not a bad move. It fits the company’s persona: energetic, aggressive, that sort of thing. It’s pretty cool equipment.
But concurrently with this logo, we had done a very cool graphic of the flagship product in action, and imposed it on a realistic-looking saw blade, which got the client thinking. So we were asked to apply a similar silver gradient on the saw blade, and then for the sake of enhancement, and to get the red in, throw a line underneath the type. Anyway, I’m a white-space guy, and if a logo can’t be printed on a beer coozie it’s not a logo. So my knee-jerk reaction to adding stuff is typically something like rejection. But since rejection is not an option when you’re trying to work with people, and the whole purpose to workshopping stuff to begin with has to do with the two-heads-are-better-than-one idea, I made the revisions, and hey, it’s a cool result! In fact, it is, once again, the best one to date. I hope this wins the final selection. I’ll keep you posted.
*note, there were several inferior renditions attempted after this, which reinforced much of what I’ve always believed about design. Many designers of the current and last century cite Antoine de Saint Exupéry of The Little Prince fame: “It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” But this experience in general has inspired me to revise my take on the overly-simplistic platitude: There is a point at which less is more.