J Smith Marine Consultancy Ltd is owned by a very nice fellow, John Smith up in Scotland. One day, I checked my voice-mail and heard quite a confusing message from John. He knew what kind of logo design he wanted, but was finding hard to explain.
With a pen and paper in-hand, I rung John back and after informal greetings, I asked him to further explain his requirements. Basically, he stated the following:
Well Andrew, what I want is a flag design for my company…I have a drawing here. It is to be blue and white, representing a J and an S. The J is like a striped-flag, and the S should have a square. Sorry this is confusing, it’s hard to explain what I require…
I assured John this was okay, but suggested he fax over the drawing of the flags so I could evaluate what needed to be achieved:
Image: John Smith’s initial drawings.
Aha, the visual representation — this is what I needed. Now that I knew what John was trying to explain, I agreed to provide him with 3 separate styles for his flag logo icon as follows:
Simple flag concepts with no gradients.
Illustrative-classic looking flag and Illustrative Web 2.0 style flags.
I created the flag for John in vector format, meaning that is could be scaled up or down with no loss of quality. Like shown above in red and black, I constructed vector-forms and filled spaces with colour (in a nut-shell).
John was very specific in what he wanted in regard to colour and shape, so I designed for him flag icons that would tie-in well to his Marine consultancy business. I’m glad he wanted white and blue, as green, for example, would wrongly procure connotations of the famous brand, John Smiths Lager.
Oddly, though, he never asked for any kind of type to accompany the flag. I asked him why this — and he told me he would just add the type himself. Obviously, I wasn’t happy about that, so I did some mock-up examples for him (with the icons plus text) and sent them as a PDF. I explained that, really, text was needed to reinforce his company identity. After-all, I wasn’t designing a symbol whereby the logo text could eventually be dropped, like the Nike logo.
When he saw my designs, he was very impressed and agreed the the type was (obviously) a necessity. He chose the classic-styled flag — which was my personal favourite, and received the logo in various sizes in professional formats and for varied use.
This is one particular project that I learned a great deal about working with clients that possess little knowledge of logo design. It was a pleasure working for John, yet the experience has taught me that sometimes, things that are obvious to designers aren’t so clear to clients.
I always endeavour not just to do a good job, but a great one. So I’m glad that I didn’t just do as asked and provide a logo with no text. Indeed, I wanted to design something we could both be happy with — and what would help grow Johns business. Anthony Zinni of Positive Space Blog has a great post on challenging your clients. It’s a great resource and a worth-while read.
Also, graphic designers David Airey and Jacob Cass both have excellent articles on the misconceptions and habits of clients. If you know of any other great resources on this subject, please let me know.
What do you think of the logos? Do you think the best icon was chosen? I’d love to hear your thoughts…