Mini-Branding Logo Design Process

Ever wonder what progression logos goes through as they’re designed and redesigned?  Branding is super important and there are concepts you have to keep in mind that probably aren’t obvious to newcomers in this area.  Well, this blog post will explain my design process, show you examples of the image progression gone through in designing my own logo set, and tell you exactly why I chose to make the changes I did along the way.  If you’re new to graphic design or if you’ve never had to make a logo before then you might find this post useful.

Step 1)  PLAN OUT THE DESIGN GOALS

  • Must be simple and easily recognizable.  Use some sort of basic shape to make it easy to remember.  This is a trick that Adobe, Facebook, Twitter, and other large companies use.
  • Use the “X” in Level X Games.  Again, using a single letter is something that works wonders for the big guys.
  • Have a consistent sort of look at all sizes
  • Since the logo will be used often for super tiny things like icons, thumbnails, and the super tiny images you see in your Internet browser’s tabs and URL section (this is called a “favicon”), it must look great even super-duper small
  • Use a color scheme that is pleasing to the eye and invokes an intuitively “positive” response (more on this later)
  • Use vector art so that the images can be re-sized indefinitely without any quality loss whatsoever. Vector art is based of off mathematical points in space, each with its own direction and magnitude.  “Vectors” are the name given to these points (more like lines, really) and combinations of these can be used to create curves, called “Bézier curves”.

Step 2) INITIAL MOCKUP

After a short trip to Google Images to look for common themes in super successful companies’ logos, I came up with this initial design:

I liked the look of this but there were two things that bothered me.  One, it looks kind of like a blue coin (too flat).  And, two, it doesn’t say much about video games at all.  There’s just a big “X” there – while I like the simplicity, this just wasn’t going to cut it.

 

Step 3) TAKE A BREAK, THEN REDESIGN

Taking a short “think break” on important decisions like this helps quite a bit.  I didn’t want to complicate the design too much so what I decided to do was throw the word “level” in there.  That would be enough to better depict my company name and also say something about video games.  I also thought about economy of space a bit and realized that I could get the letters larger with a square design.  Here’s the redesign:

I also threw a black box behind the logos so I could get a sense of what they’d look like on both black and white backgrounds.

 

Step 4) GET SOME FEEDBACK & CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS

Okay, those look pretty nice but it’s obvious that the wee ones still needed some work to pump up the quality.  They’re just too hard to read! At this point I was tossed up about which shape to use so I decided to post of a quick survey amongst my friends to get some external feedback.  External feedback is very important when working solo – sometimes you’re just too close to the project.  At times like that you need to step back and get some candid opinions.  When you do this, try to only give them the information they need, not too much, and absolutely DO NOT LEAK YOUR OWN OPINIONS!  Remember, these are your friends.  Even if they try not to, they’re going to be influenced by what you say and will likely tell you what they think you want to hear… if they can.  That’s just human nature.

Anyway, I’m glad I did this because I was able to confirm some of my own concerns without bias, and also get some other very useful feedback.  My friend Josh suggested that I use a black box/circle instead of the light blue one.  That would make the light-colored text stand out (we call this “pop” in the design field).  He was absolutely right about that.  It did need better contrasting, badly.  However, I don’t like using certain colors like black and red for logos because they tend to have intuitively negative responses associated with them.  People associate the color black with night time, fear, evil and that sort of thing (red is often associated with “warning” or blood).  I wanted my color scheme to produce positive association, which is why I leaned toward white and blue (people tend to think of water, sky, clouds and other peaceful stuff like that).  So, what did I do?  I compromised.  The logo really did need a darker background.  There just wasn’t any getting around that, so I just changed the light-blue gradient to a deep-blue gradient.

 

Step 5) DESIGN REVISIONS

Now that’s what I’m talking about!  These ones definitely pop!  You may also notice that I also omitted the word “level” on the super tiny version.  It just wasn’t readable at that size, which also means that I lost the “easily recognizable” quality at that size.

Then I realized that I could take this “less is more” concept a bit further and abbreviate “LEVEL” as “LVL” in the middle size.  This gives me the option to use the abbreviated option in the event that sizing makes the whole word is too small to be clear yet not so small that I have to take the word out completely.  Options are always nice.

 

 

Step 6) FINALIZE

Now THOSE look great!  The only thing left was to decide on the shape… so I decided to write out the “pros” of each (I prefer “pros” to “cons”).  My request for external feedback also helped considerably in this area.

PRO CIRCLE:

    • Simple shape
    • Looks great, even at small sizes
    • There are a lot of square logos out there so this shape makes it stand out a bit more

PRO SQUARE:

    • Also a simple shape (so we can eliminate this a deciding factor)
    • Also looks great, especially at small sizes (even better compared to the circle).
    • The text can be bigger using a square, which improves readability
    • Popular opinion seems to weigh slightly more in favor of the square shape (and my opinion as well)

 

So, all things considered, the square shape wins by a small factor of readability and popular vote! 😀 …and a big thank you goes out to my friends and family for your opinions and ideas!

 

Final Level X Games Logos

Software Used For Creation: Adobe Illustrator 

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