The Google homepage today features a cartoon homage to a range of famous films, including “Spartacus,” “West Side Story,” “Man With the Golden Arm,” and the immortal Hitchcock thriller “Vertigo.” What do all those movies have in common? They all feature the work of the pioneering designer and artist Saul Bass, who did for the opening credit montage what Rodin (another recent Google doodle honoree) did for sculpture.
It’s been a while since I designed a logo. Usually I stick to websites and apps, which I find much easier. Designing a logo is a daunting task. Done right it should be a mark that will represent a brand for years to come, and unfortunately you don’t get the chance to measure and iterate based on weekly usability tests or usage metrics..Below I’ll share the process I followed designing a logo for Runnable.
Having just joined Runnable as the only Designer, I was still getting acquainted with the team and product.I spent a lot of time talking with the team members, to find out who they are, what they want, what they stood for, what the long term vision was, where did they want to be in 3 years.
The KJ Method was one approach I used to figure out the things that really matter to the company.
To get a better idea of the market I looked at the personas who would interact with our product, what were the related products, how do they brand themselves?As Runnable makes tools for developers I looked at related companies like GitHub, Atlassian,Heroku, Twilio. while asking questions on Twitter and Quora to get a better idea for what types of companies stood out to developers and what they liked about them.
Logo Design Inspiration
There are a lot of well branded companies out there and even more talented graphic designers. I made sure to get inspiration from what was being produced.This included getting advice from industry blogs (Logo Design Love), speakers (Speaker Deck), logo galleries (Logo Pond, Dribbble), related brands and startup logos (500 Startups) to see what other designers have done.
I started mind mapping to come up with words and ideas associated with Runnable, as a result of the brainstorming session I had with the team.While I was jotting down words I would sketch out very low fidelity icons to help visualise ideas. I made heavy use of The Noun Project and Fontello to help me associate glyphs and icons with these words.
From the mind mapping I’ll try to focus on 3 different directions for a first round cut of ideas and to get initial feedback from the key steakholders, in this case the rest of the team.
Come Up With 3 Different Ideas
As a rule I stick to black and white at this early stage. I don’t want the client/team to get stuck on colours or aesthetics at this point. I just want a direction to go in.I played with several of the logo mark ideas I had and pitched 3 different ideas.
Note: I recommend not showing all your sketches/ideas, especially the ones you don’t like. It’s very likely someone will like one of these.
Focus On One Chosen Idea
Once I have feedback and a general direction from the team, I focused on that one area but explored multiple options and ideas.At this point I started playing with colours and aesthetics to help get a better idea of how the final product might look, keeping in mind it should look good in black and white and at different dimensions.
Experiment With Type
For me, type is the most difficult part. It’s hard not to just go with a typeface you use all the time, and it’s hard not to copy a typeface you like on someone else’s logo.Trying out different typefaces and fonts isn’t exactly easy either, and they’re quite expensive so you don’t want to buy until you know you have the right one.
I used Typekit and Typecast to help me experiment with various typefaces, which gives me a lot more flexibility than Photoshop.
Experiment With Colours
I used various websites to help me experiment with different colour palettes, including Colour Lovers and Kuler.
Once we had a logo we were happy with, I added some polish in the form of dimensions, balance, positioning and colours.I used Photoshop most of the way through the process as opposed to Illustrator. I’m more familiar with it and ableto iterate faster, so at this point I reproduced the logo in Illustrator.
I did a sanity check to make sure something similar does exist, and purchased the font(Parisine Sombre) that I decided to go with.
At this point I also produced some documentation and guidelines on how to use the logo, as well as files for different use cases, which I shared in a Dropbox folder e.g. various dimensions, inverted etc. I recommend Graham Smith’s advice on identity guidelines.Meaning behind the logo mark (in case you’re curious):
Play glyph to represent running, or starting something. Runnable runs server-side code in the browser.
The multiple overlapping circles represent discovery and activity. We aim to help developers discover code, APIs, modules and rapidly prototype.
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