Any excuse to show off and quote Virgil. My other thought was a song from the Sound of Music. Count your blessings.
Last week was the unveiling of the logo design for Parker Payroll Services. This week is the business card. The logo is the hallmark of the company, the business card is the beacon. The business card design sets the tone and the brand of the company. It will be the piece that is printed the most, handed out the most, the most prevalent identifier the company will have. It will set the design for the web site, letterhead, even the invoices and communications. Now the other pieces are mostly done though not refined. I didn’t design the business card then move on to the next items. The logo, the card, all aspects of the designs were all considered together. Not entirely in the physical sense, mind you, but in the sense of message, branding and workability. The colors, type and object elements were considered for all the pieces for the company. Here are the comps for the card and the final version. A few things first though.
1. The final card is vertical. I usually prefer cards be horizontal.
2. I like the logo to be in the upper left corner.
I liked the look of the vertical card best. I think it balances the copy (text) with white space to create a card that has the look and feel I am going for. That look and feel being solid, reliable, dependable, yada, yada, yada. Since the logo is the name of the company and not a symbol that needs to be paired with the company name, placing it at the top of the card and not the upper left is not an issue. It’s still upper just not left, see how the logo at the bottom of the other vertical card option doesn’t work as well.
Here is the logo. It is in one typeface but two color. I used brown and black because as discussed before these colors and especially together represent stability, reliability and dependability. The serif typeface is an old fashioned choice. But again I am thinking about stability. The partner to my serif typeface, Minion Pro is the san serif typeface, Helvetica. These are the two typeface that I will use throughout the branding. The typefaces will be brought together on the business cards, letterhead and all other identity support items.
I decided against using an icon. I considered some of the obvious ideas. A roll of money, a stack of cash, a check, a check (✓). I decided against an icon because I decided it would not give the company a polished, professional look. I considered shapes, squares, boxes but again decided to keep it simple. The line at the bottom will serves several purposes. The first is that it finishes the logo. It says, “Here. It’s done.” Secondly, I will use the line a design device. I can use it at the bottom of pages as an element, or even look into extending it to include other text or indicate a break or connection.
For more see: Anatomy of a good logo
and: Anatomy of a Bad logo
This is the logo I will be working with to create my branding for Parker Payroll Services. The far left is the two color logo that will mostly be used. The middle is the black version and the far right is the one color, color version. The two color will be the most often used, the all black less so and the far right rarely.
Brown and black. I chose those colors because it feels very corporate, steady, sturdy and reliable. For a cool infographic about logo and what their colors say click here.
I have my typeface: Minion Pro, serif and Helvetica, san serif. (Helvetica is a great typeface don’t let anyone tell you different.)
Color Scheme: Brown and black
Branding strategy: Professional, reliable, sturdy, consistent.
Next: A look at the whys and why nots and the look and feel.
Please don’t try this at home, I’m a professional. I am in the process of creating a logo for my fictional company, Parker Payroll Services. The first thing I did was answer the questionnaire about determining logo needs and wants.
The essence of my business is that it is a start-up payroll services company. It will provide the paperwork, pay checks or electronic deposit duties and taxes reporting for companies payroll duties with up to 1000 employees.
The direction I envision it taking is local to regional. At it’s largest, it will be 12 employees.
In five years I see modest growth, developing a client base at a manageable rate. All the time keeping up with software, hardware, tax codes and industry information and advancements.
Three words that I hope embodies the logo: competent, stable, reliable.
Here and there and yin and yang words: banker/modern, reliable/up-to-date.
I want a logo that is all words no icon.
How does your designer do this? At the client meeting you should be presented with three or so logo ideas. What you should not see is ten or twelve ideas. What you won’t see is what follows. The first is a few of the variations and ideas that went into the Civic Square logo. After that, my logo, Lisa Belloli and lastly the work in progress, Parker Payroll Services.
Civic Square was over 20 sheets like these examples, Lisa Belloli has half a dozen development sheets and countless hand drawn sketches and lastly Parker Payroll Services in development. This is why a designer really is worth the expense.
Don’t know? Why should you? Last episode I named my fictional payroll company Parker Payroll Services, PPS. My company will never be known as PPS. Why? Because PPS will mean nothing to potential clients and I don’t want my current clients to have to think about it. Unless you are IBM, ING or AAA, skip the initials.
Part II. The logo
Before you think color, style, size or mascot (do not think mascot-ever). Your logo needs to do three things.
The first thing it has to do is be able to appear correctly in print ala, CMYK. For more information see: CMYK is your friend.
The second is it has/should to be able to appear correctly in print in two colors ala, pantone. Did you catch that? Two colors? Not three, not four, but two. One is even better. Think apple. Pepsi is three, but they are also a bazillion dollar company. Coke is two colors, IBM is one, Nike is one. Schools and sports teams are two colors and that’s good enough for you. Here’s the pantone info: Spot Colors
And lastly, you need to have a black and white version. Yes, you do. Here’s why: Black logo versions
Now about that logo. Should it be all text, text and an icon or just an icon? You don’t know do you? So what pray tell are you going to tell your designer? Here’s what you do; go here, Logo Questions use the questions to figure out where you are and what you want your business to be, who you want to reach, etc. It will help you determine your branding and give you a place to begin. Next week I will publish my answers to the questions. I will also show you some of the steps I went through designing my logo, lisa belloli and the logo for Civic Square, civicsquarellc.com.
Since I’ve decided to create a design presence for a fictional company I thought I would outline what I plan to cover. By starting from scratch with a fictional company I get to do what I believe is the best way to create a graphic identity. I’ve chosen a payroll company because while a yoga studio or gift shop is more exciting and has more creative capital that’s not terribly real world. With that in mind, I’ve chosen a payroll company. Here is the outline of what I intend to cover. By the way, there is no one way to do this, I am not doing this for other designers, this is a primer for non-designers. I don’t advocate any one who isn’t a designer doing this on their own. But I think by understanding the process and working with a professional designer this can be a satisfying experience for the client and designer.
I. Company name
A. The importance of thinking ahead and thinking big or small
B. Color Scheme
A. The how’s and whys and more importantly, why not.
D. Look and feel
A. Business cards
D. Tear sheets
A. Web site
C. Online services
V. Social Media
VI. Advertising traditional vs. new
Henry Ford II said that and I love it. It’s been one of my mantras ever since I heard it. My other mantra is, “it’s not about you.” The “you” being me, but I digress. I’m back to talking about logos. Logos are a tricky thing, no doubt about it. So the best idea is to keep it simple. How do you do that, you ask? I don’t know, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in an idea, a concept, your message all that. The best way is to describe the signs of having gone to far.
Graphic Design USA is a magazine for the design trade, back in the day, they used to profile companies with new logos. Along with the reveal was a description of what the new logo meant. Right there, right there is where the merry-go-round broke down. If your logo, a symbol, needs a paragraph or two to explain it, it ain’t workin’, baby. They were ever so fun though. I would read the description and see if my husband could match it to the logo. He did poorly at first; he improved over time. I used to read the descriptions in my best game show host voice. Great fun for me, not good for a logo. So here’s how you know you’ve gone off the deep end.
- The presented logo comes with one or more paragraphs of explanation. I found one description that ran 670 words. Another was 301 words for something that looked essentially like this:
- It’s so complicated it cannot not translate to black and white.
- It cannot be made small, it has to remain quite large.
- You’re presented with 20 to 30 options. Yikes, it happens!
- You’re dismayed because the logo doesn’t communicate your mission statement. A swoosh or a bulls eye doesn’t either, it’s just supposed to remind you of the company. Your logo should say, “Hey it’s me.” Not, “Hey it’s me and I represent a melding of new and old technology along with a fresh take on materialism vs. spiritualism in our ever evolving world of global communications while maintaining brand luminosity.”
And for the record, my logo: Reminiscent of an element square from the periodic table. I like science and squares. 14 words.