I recently did a blog post on the logo design process for one of my clients, and have had some questions about step one of the process, “Define the Style with a Vision Board.” I hope to elaborate on this process and its significance when creating a brand for a client.
I think that a key step in creating a brand or a logo is to understand what your client is looking for visually. This can be a little tricky, because clients are not usually designers, and at times, can find it challenging to demonstrate or articulate what it is that they are looking for. I know I have heard the phrase “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it,” from many clients. So, to avoid frustration and wasted design time on both the client end and my end, I found that creating a “Vision Board” is a great first step to get the client and I (the designer) on the same page before design work begins.
So, what is a “Vision Board”?
A Vision Board is a collection of inspiration images or objects that visually demonstrate the branding goals of the client. This can include other logos, pictures, illustrations, other design work, fabric, wood, metal, just about anything. The objects are then all put on a board (either a physical or electronic) to create an aspirational collage. The goal of the board is to create a foundation for the creative direction of the project. Basically, the board establishes a “style” that will remain consistent throughout the design process.
How is the “Vision Board” created?
It really depends on the client. If the client has a pretty good idea of what they would like to see, and have given me enough information to start, I created a vision board for the client to ensure that we are on track with a defined style for the project. This is an essential first step in my experience, simply because design elements can be very subjective. Even something as simple as the color blue can be viewed differently by two people. It is important that you clarify design details visually.
On the other hand, if the client doesn’t really know what they want, or has a vague idea of what they would like to see, I assign the client homework. I ask that they find at least four examples of a visual element that visually represents their business or what they would like there company image to be. Four examples are usually few enough to not be overwhelming to the client, and enough for me to see a general direction or consistency. If I receive the examples and there isn’t consistency, I meet with the client to discuss each example and why they selected it. This meeting usually clarifies any confusion on the direction of the project.
Brandpointe is an industry leader in career training, employee productivity and performance solutions. Brandpointe offers two distinct training paths – Work Ready and Job Ready. JobReady is designed for individuals looking to make a career change or to move up within their field. WorkReady is designed for people that have a job that are looking to expand their skill set, or the skill set of their employees, through training sessions, learning events, and individual study. In addition, a new program called Ovation is designed for anyone looking to network and connection with others in the Brandpointe community.
In December, I was very fortunate to meet Jasmin Brand of Brandpointe at a Spark Club meeting/networking event. Shortly following the event, Jasmin and I began to discuss her business and her upcoming upgrades, including the addition of the Ovation community and the launch of a new online classroom to the website. With all of these upcoming improvements, Jasmin and her team at Brandpointe were looking to upgrade their current identity and add cobranded identities for Job Ready, Work Ready, and Ovation.
Determine the Style Guide
Because this was an upgrade, and not a redesign, the overall style of the logo had already been established. The logo would be lowercase, with an emphasis put on the “e” in Brandpointe, there would be some kind of dot grid/pattern in the icon, and the colors would remain consistent. The goal was to create something more polished, not to create an entirely new identity.
Determining the style guide from this starting point was focused on selecting a typeface and an updated color palette (color palette options shown below). Several rounds of typefaces and colors were discussed, but ultimately a serif font with an updated cerulean blue was selected to represent the new Brandpointe.
Create an Updated Icon
The new tag-line for Brandpointe was determined before design took place. It was imperative that the new tagline, “Bringing education full circle,” be represented by the new logo. For this reason, it was proposed that the new logo icon represent a circle more than a grid in the design execution. Several placement options were sketched out and discussed, but it was ultimately decided to have the icon at the end of the logo to emphasis the “e” in Brandpointe.
Creation of Cobranded Logo – Job Ready, Work Ready, and Ovation
The cobranded logos were programs within Brandpointe, and needed to relate back to the original logo. Since Job Ready and Work Ready were both training paths, it was determined that these cobrands should share the same style. The blue and the green in the Job Ready and Work Ready logos match the colors in the Brandpointe logo. It also further supports the branding goals, since the circles within the icon of the Brandpointe icon match the logo icons for Job Ready and Work Ready.
The cobranded logo for Ovation was treated a little differently. In our initial meeting, Ovation was described as the “Twitter” of Brandpointe. So the identity should be relevant to the Brandpointe logo, but also be able to stand alone as with it’s own identity independent of Brandpointe. The decided upon icon for the Ovation logo was the same as the Brandpointe logo but with a different typeface and color palette.
Now that the design process is complete, I am helping Jasmin and the Brandpointe team with the implemention of the logo on all social media channels and the new website (set to launch March 1st). Soon to come will also be updated business cards and office signage.
Lindsay Stoulil is a New York City-based personal chef and nutritionist. She is a Registered Dietitian and strives to make food for her clients that is both nutritious and delicious. Her website, fridgeandtunnel.com, showcases her blog of recipe ideas and nutritional information.
In June of this year, Lindsay posted on her Facebook status that she was in need of a logo. I quickly responded to her query and we started work on the logo. Because Lindsay is in New York and I am in the Dallas, TX area, there was no in person interaction on this project. Lindsay and I began brainstorming over email about what she envisioned for her company and what she hoped to achieve with her brand identity.
Define the Style with a Vision Board
The first step I take in a logo design is to define a style with a “Vision Board”. This is a helpful in establishing a style guide draft and being more efficient in executing the design. In most cases, if the client and I agree on the Vision Board, the rest of the logo process goes much more smoothly then if I begin the design without one.
Because Lindsay and I were corresponding over email, I sent her several links with different inspirational sites online and asked her to tag a few things that she felt identified the direction she would like to take with her branding. She found illustrations from different sources that all had a similar style. It became clear that she wanted to do something with an illustrated, fun feel that was colorful and vibrate, while being modern and classic at the same time. Lindsay also suggested that we do the logo in green and white, as she felt this would best represent her brand. This established a style starting point, and gave me enough to start designing.
The next step in my design process is to sketch out some rough ideas before getting on the computer and illustrating. For me, sketching is essential because it creates a rough idea, rather then a somewhat finished and polished design. This allows me to focus on different concepts that can be utilized for creating a brand.
For Lindsay’s logo, I tried several different concepts during the sketching phase of the design. Some of the first concepts were kitchen utensils and items found in the kitchen like a stove burner. I then tried a few sketches using Lindsay’s initials to create an icon. I sent Lindsay a few of these rough sketches with detailed branding ideaology that would go with each sketch. She liked the idea of the kitchen utensils, but didn’t feel that the utensils in the sketches were the best for her brand. Below is the email with her feedback
“The image of an egg cup (I know a bit random), came to mind while I was on walk a while back. That image keeps coming to mind, so wondering if I should use it? I am enjoying the idea of an egg as a symbol of nourishment (covers the nutrition bit), and the eggcup egg as a symbol of nostalgia (for me it was something special my Mom made for me, so this covers the whole homecooking/chef bit). Plus I think if done right it could look vintage and classy.”
And so the eggcup icon was born. A kitchen item that represents nutrition and simplicity was a great icon for Lindsay’s branding goals.
Design Presentation and Selection
In my design process, I give my clients multiple options with multiple variations to ensure that they are getting exactly what they had hoped to receive at the beginning of the project. By the time I begin designing, a clear style, direction, and branding concept have been established to ensure that my time and the clients time is well spent when it comes to choosing the right logo.
Lindsay requested that the logo be green and white and feature the egg cup concept. I sent her 3 initial designs (2 are shown above, one was the final design). Each design showed different font examples and color options. In addition to the egg cup concept in green, I also sent her an option with a whisk icon in a similar illustration style and did color variants in teal and yellow.
After the first round of designs, Lindsay selected one of the logo options and requested a variation of the egg cup concept in a hand drawn sketch style. She also liked her name in a sans serif font option, with her title in a serif font spaced out underneath her name.
Ultimately, the final logo selected featured the original illustration style established by the Vision Board with a teal blue color (as shown at the beginning of the post).
The final step for this project was to implement the new logo to create new business cards for Lindsay. I sent Lindsay two design options to choose from, and she decided on the design shown above. The design is very simple and classic, to highlight the logo and clearly establish Lindsay’s brand.
Now the the logo is final, and the business cards have been printed, I will be helping Lindsay to bring her new brand identity to all of her business materials and her website/blog. At the beginning of the design process, Lindsay requested that her blog have a seperate identity that corresponses to her business identity. Fridgeandtunnel.com will soon feature a site header and the new logo to bring Lindsay’s business identity full circle.
Shortly after Lindsay and I wrapped this project, she sent me her feedback:
“Laura was able to turn my design vision into a fantastic logo and provided me with precisely what I asked for. I highly recommend her work.”
Thank you, Lindsay! You were a joy to work with!