How to Make a Logo the MWI Way Step 2: Development - Adaptability

February 02 2016

We'll admit it, sometimes we sketch an idea while we’re hanging out with friends, doodle while waiting for an appointment, or pretend we’re working while watching a Chiefs game. 

But most of our work happens during a scheduled amount of time at the desk with focus music, design partners, and professional resources at hand.

Every logo we develop goes through several renderings. The one we start with may be completely different from the one we end with. Sometimes we go back to the original concept and find new variations. Usually we make really bad logos before we make good ones. And no, we won't show you those. It's embarrassing. 

It's a process.

The process must begin with research as mentioned in the Step One of the MWI logo process. Research isn't just an idea generator. It guides us throughout every stage. 

Once we've collected the data, we keep it handy to ensure the product lines up with the client, the client's values, the client's product/service, and the client's customer.

Okay.

To the drawing board! 

Step Two: Development

Because logo design is a back-and-forth process, we can't really break it down into phases. But we can focus on the most important aspects of our development process. 

Adaptability

You know a logo is "the face of a company," but a logo is much more complex than just an inch-square design people recognize. Like any company representative, a logo has to stand out in the crowd, but it also has to be able to adapt to the situation. 

As a representative of Midwestern Interactive, how we look and conduct ourselves have an impact on how people view us. We joke about jeans and T-shirts being our uniform, but it is who we are (read: branding). 

Even in business meetings, we don't fancy up in suits just to appear professional. We dress to work hard. Our professionalism is evidenced by our investment in our client, excellent work, and client relationships. 

We dress differently for different occasions. We wear tuxes to charity balls, shorts to outdoor events. If we are at an event where everyone is wearing T-shirts, we all wear MWI or Midwestern Built T-shirts to stand out. But whatever we wear, if we are representing the company in any way, we keep our identity intact. 

Likewise, a logo has an everyday uniform, but it must adapt for a variety of media and purposes. Logos must be as effective on a business card as it is on a billboard. They must work on paper, television, web, a T-shirt and a pen. And in-house versus public or B2B situations require a completely different set of standards. Not to mention responsive design for mobile, social media sharing, and the spherical complexities of the stress ball. 

Even Adobe, known for their design tools, acknowledges one logo is insufficient as evidenced by their 60-page manual: 

  • Adobe created a clean, recognizable logo they call the red tag. This logo has two versions: one for the top of the page or screen, one for the bottom. 
  • Adobe also has a more basic logo with four different versions to accommodate two-tone, one-tone and grayscale printing. 
  • For smaller spaces where the Adobe name may not be legible on the previously mentioned logos (like a pen), they have a horizontal logo.

While developing your logo, keep your research in mind. But don't think of it as developing one logo. Prepare to design several, coordinating logos for multiple purposes. 

A word of caution: Printing and sign companies offer to digitize logos for multiple formats. The same logo in different electronic formats isn't automatically an adaptable logo set. 

Adaptability is one part of the development step. Before you start drawing, make sure you know exactly where, when and how your logo(s) will be used. 

Make a list of everywhere you might possibly see your logo. Think big...and tiny. Consider audience and purpose, size and dimensions, background colors, mediums (don't forget embroidery), distance from viewer, surrounding visuals... 

And think about where you might be in five to ten years and how your company might change. Will you grow? Will you expand? Will you have more than one target audience? Will your employees become more varied?

I'll give you a couple of weeks to work on this, then we will start talking about the art.