Making a logo design concept your own - Part 3

As mentioned in my previous bLog-oMotives entries on "making a logo design concept your own" (now combined on my Jeff Fisher LogoMotives blogfolio), the process of creating truly unique identities involves so much more than just slapping a graphic, or icon, up next to a block of text or a word. With the vast majority of my logo designs I try to envision a graphic element, appropriate to the message to be conveyed in the design, as a possible letterform representation within the name. Combining the two often results in an incredibly individual and memorable symbol to identify the client.

Following my attendance at Clown School in the spring of 2009, and a great experience as part of the Amtrak Cascades Character Clown Corps for the Portland Rose Festival, my clown pal Pippa (aka educator Debra Samuel) suggested that those interested in clowning around a bit more participate in the 2009 Portland Pride Parade. As the event was not an official Rose Festival event we would need to march under a new clown troupe moniker. Pippa came up with the name "Stumptown Clowns."

In my odd logo designer mind, as soon as I was made aware of the name, I literally saw the words visually as a potential clown face. The "U" letterform in the word "Stumptown" could become a winking eye, with the "O" in the term creating another eye that was wide open. It only made sense that the "O" in "Clown" would become a big red clown nose. With the suggestion that the Stumptown Clowns needed an identifying sign for the parade, the logo design became a reality.

The typeface Blue Plate Special, from Nick's Fonts, gave the design the circus/carnival quality I desired.

The Sentinel is not your ordinary neighborhood newspaper, and publisher Cornelius Swart did not want your everyday newspaper identity when it came time to rebrand the publication. Swart and his staff narrowed my initial type selection presentations to Boca Raton Solid and Rockwell Extra Bold treatments. They liked the "sexiness" of Boca Raton, but thought it might be a little too "magazine-like." Those providing input felt that Rockwell conveyed the "seriousness" needed for a newspaper, but the uppercase "S" letterform was too heavy, "clunky" and distracting. I was asked to finesse - or change - the "S" in the Rockwell treatment, to tweak the eye imagery, and play with "i" letterform a bit to make it possibly more lighthouse or "sentinel-like."

In literally going back to the drawing table, I worked on the "S" element for quite some time. I kept returning to the fact that everyone involved liked the "S" letterform from the Boca Raton font a great deal. In what was a bit of an "a-ha" moment I simply took the "S" from Boca Raton and dropped it in front of the Rockwell treatment of the remaining letters in the word "Sentinel." It seemed to work beautifully - and the newspaper crew agreed.

With a little finessing of the implied lighthouse image, and it's "every vigilant" eye, the paper had a strong and unique identity.

When approached by the publishing business Buttonberry Books to create a fun identity, I took the challenge literally. As is often the case, I immediately saw the visuals of a berry and buttons taking shape as graphic elements within the design to represent the company. The type Carnation, from Fonthead Designs, added the element of playfulness.

The Buttonberry Books identity appears in the books New Logo World (Japan), Logo Design for Small Business 2, and Logos from North to South America (Spain).

The Central Oregon town of Sisters, where my family's had a home for over 30 years, has hosted the annual Sisters Rodeo for over over six decades. It was an honor to be asked to design the event's first official logo for the 60th anniversary and I wanted to create an image that could be perceived as possibly being the identity since the 1940's.

From the beginning of the project I had no doubt the symbol representing this live-action piece of Western Americana would end up being red, white and blue in color. The flags, banners, music and patriotism associated with the rodeo immediately dictated that color palette. I also knew that I wanted a cowboy on a bucking bronco, or bull, as the primary element. Having seen many a cowboy hat fly through the air at previous rodeos, I felt graphically representing the hat would add a little implied movement - and my own little brand of humor - to the logo. The cowboy graphic fit well into the "O" of an original concept scribble, and the airborne cowboy hat became the dot of the "i" letterform in the word "Sisters," as the symbol almost designed itself.

Horndon gave the image the typographic period feel I was seeking. Customizing type elements, around the "O" shape and on the descender of the "R," added to making a one-of-a-kind logo.

This identity was included when the Sisters Rodeo was inducted into the Library of Congress “Local Legacies" archive. The rodeo logo received an Award of Merit in the Central Oregon Drake Awards and a Silver in the Summit Creative Awards. It also is featured in The Big Book of Logos 3, LogoLounge - Volume 1 and Design for Special Events.

© 2009 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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