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Bad Wolf Coffee Identity and Process

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  • Logo design for Jonathan and Sarah Ory, owners of a new coffee shop opening in Chicago, 2012.  

    The joys of word-of-mouth advertising.  I did some work for a friend of mine with The Harlem Sound Project who referred me to the Orys when they asked about the logo I created for HSP.  In late September, I get an email from Sarah saying that they have very little time before they launch but can I work with them to help them get up and running with the marketing stuff.

    To begin with, they are dream clients.  Fun and irreverent, and a strong (very strong) sense of what they wanted.  If only I could bottle that rare quality.  Anyway, these crazy kids want to open a coffee shop and they had a bunch of ideas but the overriding note was "metal".  It needed to be metal.  In fact, a few times it needed to be "more metal".  

    Come with me now, then, as I show you how a logo is born and how identity work works...

    My education in design is a product of the Art Center College of Design.  A school in Pasadena, California that fancies itself the inheritor of the Bauhaus ethos: a strong work ethic with design serving purpose.  I forget which Foundation instructor beat into us that there needed to be 50 discreet iterations for every assignment before you could go to completion.  You will see this over and over again in my work.  I work primarily in sketchbooks and i will beat out the concept until I have 50+ versions.  From that point, I'll go back in and select the darlings and drill back into those.  Somewhere in here they start to migrate into the computer and second or third beta rounds will continue to morph here.

    Here's a smattering of the sketches that began Bad Wolf Coffee.  Client's dossier was that it should be "metal".  They were abstractly making a reference to a plot that runs through a season of Doctor Who.  Jonathan also wanted to see some clean and corporate influences as they are also going to market high end pastries.  Specifically they'd requested a paw print and there was some early talk of 70s wavy gravy typography.

  • Initial thoughts for me were: an illustration of a wolf; werewolf; coffee beans as eyes; coffee beans as paw prints; red ridinghood; Tex Avery wolf; and strong form where geometric shapes lead to a wolf.

    Somewhat ironic, i remember wanting to NOT have to draw a wolf early on.  "no more animal logos.  never again."
  • Another early idea was to be sort of subtly lewd.  So, the sort of wagging tongue and dripping O are a step further from the Avery wolf of cartoon fame.  Thinking that it's a different type of Bad Wolf and the undertones of the Red Riding Hood theme.
  • It's funny that i never seem to make the 3D late 90s type thing work and I always have to try it.  Ergo the B that is a W.  It dies early in the process.  But from that, Geometric forms that are primary and sort of Dutch.  An escaping Red Riding Hood figure.  And this icon wolf figure that morphs over and over again from dart-like to bookmarkish.
  • Knopf has the running hound and so then i too had to give a shot at a strong wolf outline.  This is the beginning of the end for me.
  • The elegant wolf outline starts to meet iterations that harken to English and German heraldry.  Notes are made.  I never managed to make this Yield Sign concept work which seemed sort of Bad Wolf to me at the time.
  • A B that is a W in a sort of blackletter weight.  I liked this.  More Wolves.  Including one that is blocky and built.
  • Dripping bloody crescent had to be tried but died early in the concept stage.  Wolf hiding behind the B probably had some legs.  The triangle / circle line wolf always looked too much like a fox.  I really wanted to make a paw print with coffee bean toes but it never worked.  I think we're better off for it.  And finally, more iterations of the running Red Riding Hood figure.  I'd been looking at a lot of Rene Gruau illustrations and would be perfectly happy doing nothing but knockoffs of that work for the rest of my time.  
  • First Round:

    I've been delivering 3 concepts for a while now.  For the last few years at least.  I liked where these were going and I quite like the Orys so they get 4.  Any of these 4, I would have been happy with.

    The client selected the wolf illustration, but wanted it to be more metal.  much more metal.
  • So the Rene Gruau attempt will be lost in the sands of time.  (contact the designer if your business needs a Red Riding Hood logo).  :)

    Sigh.  Loved this.
  • Iterations of the Wolf getting more and more badass.  With and without fiery tongue.
  • More metal?  Sure.  Daggers of the Fraktur fs are elongated in all three versions.  In the bottom one, they've taken a bite out of the metal border.
  • Behold, the final logo!
  • Wishing these kids the best.  They should be open some time around or after Thanksgiving 2012.  If you stop in tell them I said "hi".  And snap a picture for me and let me know how store looks.

    Best of luck to Bad Wolf Coffee, and wolves everywhere!