Cut to the Chase: A Refresher on Getting to Less
How simplifying things makes for stronger results
11.02.2015 Strategy and Design
On my third day at ThinkShout, I casually (read: scared out of my mind) took a risk and asked what would happen if I suggested a few updates to the current ThinkShout logo.
I was met with encouragement, and was asked to build a presentation and pitch why I thought the logo should be updated. The key word is, of course: why. When we take risks, it helps to support that decision with understanding as to why the risk is worth taking - for both you, or your client’s sake.
When a lot of designers begin a brand refresh, they look towards the future for inspiration. I believe the past holds many answers, too. In this case, it reveals the heart of the company – and, of course, its brand equity.
So I began with the logo that was designed in 2012.
I’ve done a lot of detailed typographic work, so a few things stood out to me. Let me walk you through my process:
The first thing I did was look at the logo in black and white.
Turning any graphic to black and white helps reveal the details (and issues). Color likes to play tricks on our eyes and hide inconsistencies. I started with a high-level critique, to avoid getting distracted by the details and instead focus on the larger picture.
I saw a clear imbalance between ‘think’ and ‘shout.’ While the airy ‘think’ and bold ‘shout’ were originally intended in the first version of the logo, it resulted in too much weight on the right side. There is also some evidence that the logo might have been improperly stretched vertically based on the dot of the ‘i.’
Next, I dove into the details.
You may have to look really close to see what is going on here, but I’d like to draw attention to the three horizontal lines: the cap-height, x-height and baseline. Typographers use these lines to create consistent letterforms throughout a typeface. You’ll notice that the word ‘shout’ extends above the cap-height, the x-height and below the baseline. Typographically, this is wrong. It should be consistent with the word ‘think.’ There are few other inconsistencies throughout the wordmark that I’ve noted such as the line quality of the thought bubbles and the ‘o’ in ‘shout.’
After learning as much as I could about the existing logo, it was time to draw the new logo using Adobe Illustrator. (Remember, the past holds answers!) The screen recording below is about six hours of work compressed to a speedy five minutes.
You’ll see in the screen capture that the first thing I did was set up guides and turn on grids. To draw the new wordmark, I used the pen and shape tool. Letters with a stem, defined by vertical stroke, were formed with rectangles; using shapes, like rectangles and circles, to build letters provides consistency and less room for error.
I spent quite a bit of time on the ‘h’, as I knew the shoulder – the little hump on the ‘h’ – would also inform the ‘n’ and ‘u.’ The ‘S’ was a beast on its own and was actually built off camera. Any typographer will tell you that an ‘s’ can take just as long as the entire wordmark combined.
When it came time to redraw the illustrations, I used the trusty shape tool again.
What you don’t see in the screen capture is the time I spent critiquing each and every letter with a great amount of detail. To do this, I printed out several variations and compared what I saw on screen versus what was on the paper. After several adjustments the new logo was born.
And finally the moment you’ve been waiting for… (drum roll, please!)
Let’s take a closer look at what changed.
Even if you can’t quite put your finger on why, hopefully the new version of the logo is more visually appealing. The ‘why’ is in the details. Probably the largest difference is the balance between ‘think’ and ‘shout.’ Creating a new version of the wordmark where ‘think’ is not thin and ‘shout’ is not bold means the wordmark feels more consistent throughout. The word ‘Shout’ is still orange – which naturally feels a bit stronger, according to color theory.
Another significant change is in the new illustrations. The new thought bubbles have character, but are constructed to feel like they are meant to belong together. Just those two things drastically change the overall feeling of the wordmark.
When we compare the old with the new, it’s easier to see these changes. Below, the red circles highlights several details that were updated with the new logo.
People often think a logo refresh ends with a new logo, but it’s really just the start. In most scenarios, the logo will need to be altered and formatted in ways that work for a variety of devices and applications.
So, I will leave you with the entire new ThinkShout logo family.
I had a lot of fun working on this project – and it may not have happened if I hadn’t spoken up during my first week. No matter what you do, don’t forget to take risks.
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