- Red Robot Media logo design
- BRIEF & INITIAL THOUGHTS
Red Robot Media is a newly formed company which offers copywriting and technical authoring services. Claire, the director of RRM, approached me to create a new logo for them and was very keen to get something as quickly as possible in order to replace the placeholder they were previously using. I was, of course, happy to oblige.
The brief from Claire was relatively simple: they required something smooth, 2D and neat. It didn't need to allude to copywriting. Preferably something not quite as plain as the Android logo, but something "fairly solid or manga-ish and flat would be good".
My own initial thoughts were that the design needed to convey the 'technical' side of RRM's services without feeling too formal or cold.
The most obvious direction, of course, would be one that depicted a red robot so I started my initial research there, looking up logos featuring robots. I didn't want to limit myself to just the obvious, however, so I also started to think about how else the brand might be depicted and scoured my usual resources for inspiration.
After some sketching (both physical & digital), I provided the first draft of thumbnail ideas to the client, accompanied with my own commentary on the ideas and the directions I was taking. This commentary is vital! As I explained to the client - they're notjust paying for my ability to move things around in Photoshop/Illustrator but also for my experience and knowledge of what's effective and what isn't, so communicating your decisions effectively is key.
Some designers would advocate that the client should trust the designer to come up with various ideas and only put forward the one that they know will be the most effective, essentially making the choice on behalf of the client (here's a great, thought provoking article on this) and while I agree with this in principle, in practice I think sometimes it's more important to 'bring the client along with you' and to reassure them that you have explored other options.
When I provide initial sketches, I am very careful to ensure this is not construed as an opportunity for the client to simply pick their favourite design, but rather for them to be involved in the design process and provide feedback. Likewise, I am there to recommend what I think will work best, not to force a logo on a client or dismiss their input.Managing the Designer/Client relationship is an incredibly important and often overlooked part of the design process, and I find that taking the time to involve and engage your client will mean that 9 times out of 10 they'll understand and agree with your decisions and be really happy to follow your recommendations.
My commentary to the client follows the images:
- "In response to the brief, I've explored a few logo-marks based on a robot emblem, keeping things smooth and iconic. I'm aware you mentioned you didn't want something as plain as the Android logo; how I've interpreted this is to try and come up with something that has a bit more character rather than being needlessly more complex. A simple, refined logo is always going to be more effective - simple logo-marks will shrink down without looking weird, will 'invert' nicely to work on dark backgrounds, work great as Twitter icons, etc. will be more memorable to your clients and potential customers, and will be more resilient to trends and less at risk of looking dated down the line. If the logo starts becoming more of an illustration then it's gone too far and will be less effective (and potentially start to give off a clip-art or amateurish vibe!)
I've tried to avoid anything too sharp and angular, which can come across a little harsh/abrasive. A robot implies something efficient and reliable, but by adding in the curves and cute face it suggests a brand that is professional and exacting but has a 'human face' and is approachable, friendly and flexible.
To tie the logo-mark to the type, I've picked out 5 fonts which I think compliment the above approach. I think All Caps is a little too harsh for what we're wanting to convey but all lower case seems to have a suggestion of informal-ness which I like. In keeping with the 'clean & professional' feel, I think sans-serif fonts are more effective - although the examples on the bottom right have a slight serif embellishment to them which doesn't detract too much, as the roundness of the type manages to avoid it looking too cold and instead has a nice hint of 'technical' about it. Each of these fonts are very affordable, and a couple are free. I've also picked ones that you shouldn't see everyone else using either!
Personally, I think the strongest concepts are the 2 middle-left ones. I think the little square-headed chap has a lot of potential. I also started to play with some ideas that conveyed 'red robot' without it being a robot. I liked the idea of a robot hand, which conveys technical/precise work, but wasn't too keen on my early sketches. I did like the little cog design, however, so included him on the sheet.
So, please have a look and tell me what your thoughts are -- it may be that you like separate elements of different designs, or that some of them are definitely not what you're after, which is course is fine - it all helps in narrowing down the direction of the final thing. Bear in mind these are still roughs, and nothing is set in stone, so the concept is what we're looking for but I certainly think some of these could be polished up to be very effective."
- CLIENT FEEDBACKI have to say the feedback from Claire and her colleague was fantastic - very clear and informative. The key outcomes were that they liked the ones I recommended but also had a soft-spot for the top left 'chunky' robot and liked the light bulb element which I had incorporated into another thumbnail.
At this point I was already confident which design I thought was the strongest, so it was just a matter of making my recommendation and explaining the value behind it in order to get the client on board and feeling happy about the decision. My response was asfollows:
- "Thanks for the comments, that's exactly the sort of feedback needed, so brilliant stuff. Really glad that you're pleased with what I've done so far, I think it's all shaping up nicely.
It's often a tricky one as the right design doesn't always immediately jump off the page, and of course there are always going to be elements of all the other designs that you still like. However I find that keeping your objectives in mind helps you avoid being swayed too much by imagery that simply looks nice or is a nice idea, and instead focus on the images that best achieve your business needs.
So for example, I also like the top left, chunky, more manga-esque robot and when you mentioned it was a potential favourite I immediately started thinking of ways I could refine and move forward with it. BUT if I'm totally honest, taking a step back, I can view it more objectively: it relies a little too heavily on a specific style (and thus may not age very well), I think it appeals to a male demographic a little more than it should, and it isn't going to shrink/invert quite as well as some of the other options.
Even though I'm sure you'd be happy with the final results, I would be providing poor design service if I just went ahead with it, knowing it isn't quite effective as it should be. It's important to still explore ideas like this, though, which is why it's there on the sheet - even when you can sort of visualise which idea may work best, good design process still tries out lots of other ideas. It's only when we can objectively compare them all together on the page that you can see which meet your objectives and will add the most value to your brand.
So, moving forward, what I'd like to suggest is that we go with the square-headed guy, and I'll be doing the following:
- refining the design; trying some variations to just make sure it's working as well as it should. I realised that by tweaking the legs slightly, the robot is actually not too far away from looking like a back to back RR, so that's the sort of thing it'd be great to include if it can be done effectively.
- making sure it works in the different situations it'll be needed in, i.e. shrunk down, different containers, on a dark background, etc.
- starting to pair the logo-mark with a font.
Based on your liking of the 'light bulb' in the sketches, I also had an idea - I can do a version of the robot incorporating a light bulb (either holding it or popping above his head); this wouldn't replace the logo but could be used as a complimentary image on your site. There's real potential to come up with a few of these - one with a speech bubble, one holding an envelope as a sort of 'mail/delivery' image, one cheering to welcome a new client, etc."
- RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL DESIGNClaire was in agreement and was very happy for me to move forward, so here are the next worksheets I provided along with my commentary below:
- “Just to take you through my process: I refined the robot characterever-so-slightly, just smoothing his legs (so he'll resize better), andchecking the measurements of all the lines so he's proportionally sound.
Next, I decided on 3 of the previously provided fonts, whichyou can see on sheet 1. Previously, Ipreferred number 2 (actually the third one down, as the first two are the samefont) and while I still think it works, it just doesn't seem to have the samepersonality as the first font. The thirdfont doesn't work as effectively as it should, and I think it's down to thelack of 'corners' in the letterforms, so it doesn't quite gel with thesquareness of the robot character.
As for the first font, I was initially concerned that itwould only really work with the logo mark inside a circular container(mirroring the circular letterforms), however I think this would cause problemswhen shrinking down, as the robot would not shrink well inside the circle. However, I think there are enough straightstrokes within the font to make the robot work fine without the container and Ithink this combination is absolutely the most effective overall logo.
Next I tried colours, however I quickly realised this was ano brainer: The robot ideally needs tobe red; I think the dual colour next to the text breaks it up enough to keep it'warm' (as all black it looks a little too harsh and isolating against the redrobot), however keeping the word 'red' red and everything else black just looksweird! Either the word red jumps out in red or the words 'robot media' jumpout. Essentially we've already hit onthe most efficient way of colouring the text. Incidentally, red and black can often look very harsh together but byusing a slightly de-saturated red and more of a very dark grey, we're able toget a softness in there. The specifichues of these colours are very important, so I'll be sure to provide thevarious codes (RGB, CMYK, Pantone, etc.) to make sure you can always replicatethese accurately.
So this leads onto my final recommendations which I'veillustrated on the second sheet. I'vetried out the logo in a variety of conditions and I think it's proved veryversatile, which is exactly what you want in a good logo. It's simple, but has plenty of character, hasa smooth, efficient and professional feel, but also a warmth and welcomingvibe, and it resizes for buttons and icons (the smaller icons are Twittersized).
I've jumped ahead a little bit in putting the recommendationtogether, but I'm very confident this is the most effective in representing youas a brand, and also the one you'll get the most mileage from. As previously mentioned, there's loads ofpotential in using the character for little spot illustrations.
So, let me know what you think - hopefully I've been able toarticulate the reasoning behind the decisions I've made throughout the process,as well as describe how these add value to your brand and overall aims."
- Thankfully, they were really pleased with the end results and I followed up by providing the logos in the format they needed, as well as a brief style showing the colour values and font choice. They paid very promptly (always very much appreciated) and within 24 hrs the new logo appeared on their site. After some Twitter canvassing they have affectionately named the robot Maurice and I'm proud to say he looks very much at home!
Here's some a testimonial from Claire:
"We solicited quite a few quotes for a new logo, but we went with ArmyOfCats because of quality - simple as that. We needed something recognisable and clean, and we needed it quickly. In the end, we got everything we wanted. In fact, the design work was so good we had trouble picking out a favourite!"
I hope this process proves useful in explaining some of the ins and outs of logo/brand design, and I'd be delighted to hear any feedback or questions.