This week, I interview Janet Baxter, a photographer, web designer, and graphic designer, who helped me develop my new logo. I also (weirdly) interview myself about the logo-development process.
TAoTB: What exactly is a ‘brand’? And how is my logo a part of that brand?
JB: Brand is both a noun and a verb. To mark a product, commodity or packaging with a logo or insignia is branding in its earliest use. Now branding refers to building an identity through logos, colour schemes, music, slogans, symbols and/or mascots in order to build a relationship with the target audience.
A logo is the graphic representation of the essence of the product, company, individual, etc..
Not all businesses have a brand, but if there is one, a logo design visually distills the brand into a compact, legible, stylish mark.
I have negative associations with the words brand and branding because it implies trying to sell a lifestyle, a kind of consumer brainwashing.
Alternatively, I find logo design and the challenges that come with it very interesting and engaging.
RC: I started the logo process, before I hired Janet, by doing an informal marketing survey amongst my friends and clients I had worked for. I narrowed my choices for my brand down to three, and associated them with certain colours, taglines and graphics. Then I asked people’s opinions about which one they liked the best.
TAoTB: What kinds of things can inspire my brand/logo?
JB:Anything! When designing a logo I can find inspiration in art, music, nature, patterns, photographs, textiles, flower arrangements and on and on. I like to brainstorm with my clients and ask questions that help them and me to discover the essence of their product or business.
RC: The breakthrough for me while we were going through this process came one day when I wandered into an art-supply shop for a browse. This piece of scrapbooking paper caught my eye. I knew that this was the colour scheme I wanted.
TAoTB: What is your process of designing a logo with a client?
JB: Initially I interview a client to get as much information as I can about their business. I provide them with a qestionnaire that helps to point me in a design direction.
Based on the info that I gather I’ll produce a few samples, get feedback, revise, more feedback and hopefully, at this point we are getting close to a finished product.
RC: Yeah, from start to finish, the entire process took about two months, several meetings, and lots and lots of backing-and-forthing in terms of the refinement.
TAoTB: What kinds of questions do you ask?
JB: I like to get people in stream-of-consciousness mode so that they make connections to what inspired them to start their business or organization. I want to find out who they are trying to reach and appeal to. The questions range from broad (overall mood and flavour) to specific (colours and typefaces). The ideas generated in the interview process can be complex and the challenge is to synthesize those ideas into a simple, effective representation of the spirit of the company.
RC: The survey started with general questions about my business: what I did, what my goals are. The next section asked questions about my audience, or client base. In marketing, this is called demographics. The next set of questions asked about the logo specifically: colours, shapes, textures, fonts, possible taglines. Finally, we took a look at the competition: what kinds of logos are my competition using, and how can I set myself apart from them?
Here are some early prototypes:
This one, of course, was the winner, and after much backing and forthing and fine tuning, my new logo (a go-go!):
Janet Baxter has been working as an artist and for artists for 22 years. She started her career as an actor, touring with a children’s theatre company for 6 years before settling in Vancouver in 1992. She got bitten by the shutter bug and pursed photography in tandem with auditioning for film and television roles. In 1998 she enrolled in full time studies at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and has been working as a photographer and printer ever since. In 2005 she received a diploma from Langara’s Publishing program and added print and web design to her skill set. She freelances and works as a layout artist at Rocket Reprographics in Vancouver. Her clients are actors, writers, musicians, visual artists, non-profits and small businesses.