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In an effort to get in the habit of writing more and sharing some of the things that go on around here while I’m sitting at my desk, I thought it might be neat to show some of the stages that I went through to develop the new Takedanger Design logo (the finished product, of course, being right up there at the top of the site).

Takedanger Design logo mind map

Takedanger Design logo mind map

When I’m starting a logo, I usually go pretty old-school and rely on the tried and true method of putting pencil to paper. I like to scribble away on pads of 8.5×11 graph paper (for some reason I always work on them sideways… I don’t know why).

At this stage of the process, I like to map a bunch of the random ideas, phrases, emotions and keywords that might go along with the logo that I’m working on. I’ll usually pick two or three keywords for a logo and generate a mind-map for each one of them to see where the different ideas take me, but since I was my own (somewhat) cooperative client on this one, I only generated one map for the word “Danger” in this case.

I find it’s good to allow a some time between doing these mind-maps if I’m doing several of them. I will often take several days just for this stage alone (when possible), just to let my subconscious percolate on them and to come at each one with a fresh eyes and a clear head.

Once I’ve generated a couple of these maps, I’ll highlight some of the generated ideas that I think would make for good logo-ing and I take them and start sketching out the various shapes or ideas that came out of the mapping stage.

Takedanger Design logo sketches

Takedanger Design logo sketches

It’s usually around here that I start bemoaning my own skills (or lack thereof) when it actually comes to drawing. Fortunately, these are meant to be rough and loose, and I primarily use them as a starting point just to weed out the real idea-turds before moving to the computer. At the bottom of these particular scribbles, you can see where I was trying to work out the particular curve in the “fold” of what would become the final logo.

I tend to push through this stage pretty quickly. Once I have a general idea of what will work and what won’t, I’m usually fairly eager to take the ideas to the computer and start using Adobe Illustrator as my sketchpad.

At this point, things can really start to get messy… 

Takedanger Design logo iterations

Takedanger Design logo iterations

I won’t go into too much detail about this stage, but at this point, it’s all about experimentation and iteration. I experiment a lot with different colours, fonts, variations, and arrangements. As you can see from the example above, I will usually spread my work across several artboards within Illustrator, with each board being loosely based around one particular arrangement or idea. The example below shows work on a logo for a local contracting & home-inspection company and the division of ideas across the two artboards is a little clearer.

Very Picky Inc. logo development

Very Picky Inc. logo development

Once I have a few digital ideas polished up enough to present, all the extra stuff gets moved off to the limbo of the “scratchboard” so I can go back for it later, if I need.

After the client and I have narrowed down our chosen direction, the selected digital version(s) will be refined and adjusted for final use. It can often go through a few rounds of final tweaks and revisions, and I’ll test it out in various environments to see how it works in different ways (ie: on-screen, in different printing sizes, on a business card, letterhead, black and white, etc.) and adjust accordingly as I go. 

It’s important to remember that logos very rarely exist on their own. Consideration needs to be given at every step of the way as to how a logo will exist across a wide range of mediums, both on-screen, and off. A logo might look great on your screen, but how well does it print at one inch wide, or even a quarter-inch wide? How does it become a Twitter or Facebook icon? What about in newsprint?

When the logo has reached it’s final version, I move the final version to a new Illustrator document, clean up and “solidify” the file, prepare the different versions as required, wrap it in a warm scarf and release it to the wild – which, in most cases, means moving to the stage of taking that logo and really putting it to work in “real” stuff.

If you have any questions about how I can help you with your logo, or anything I’ve written about here, feel free to contact me!