logo design web design

SCOOP case study: Logo development and process

I find clients are often interested in the creative process involved in a logo design/brand creation. This is less about SCOOP, and more about my process.

SCOOP is a network and support structure for investigative journalists in Eastern Europe, Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia. They are supported by IMS (International Media Support) from their headquarters in Copenhagen. Their website required a significant redesign with regard to the brand and user experience. It also required a new logo.

Step 1. Sketching.

My starting point is to get into a sketch book, and ‘play’ with complete freedom.  This playing aspect, allows me to work purely on instinct, allowing my intuition to direct my creativity. It also removes all the obvious cliches my brain may wish to get out of it’s system. During this process I will ‘mind map’. A process of word association that is bringing in every area possible I think relevant to the brand. It is preparation for the research that comes in step 3.

Step 2. Analyse the word(s)

The second part of the process is to look at the word. To put it into uppercase, lowercase, capital case, serif and sans-serif fonts. To get a feel for how the word works. A word/name carries a sound when spoken, what the company does, and also the visual relationship of how those letters look together, and interact together. That last part is what I am doing here.

Step 3. Research.

The third step is research. Every area relevant to the brand. How news sites communicate, investigative journalism in general, logos, imagery, visual references for journalism, investigation, visual metaphors, whatever I can find. This step comes here, because the initial sketches and ‘wordplay’ of steps one and two, have put SCOOP into my brain. As I evaluate the research, my brain is connecting the elements, actively searching for answers and solutions. If I start with the research, my brain is blank as regards the new logo. My brain is not making connections, therefor the order of the process is important.

Step 4. Developing ideas.

The fourth step is to start developing logos. As many as possible. Working in Illustrator, I develop every idea I can, stretching each one out to the maximum, before starting the next idea. I don’t delete anything. No idea is too stupid, it might lead to something else. There can be hundreds of these.

Step 5. Mixing things up.

As the ground work in the earlier stages is done, I like to jump about between areas at this point. Typically I am also designing a website for a client. Therefor I have content to work with and play with during my logo development. There is sometimes a problem in logo design. You can create the most beautiful logo, with a very clever idea built in, that looks sensational on your computer (and when you share it with others they will agree). However the second it is added to a website, brochure, advertisement or shop front, it looks terrible. It just doesn’t work. This is because a logo seldom stands alone. It is an element that must work together with the other components of the marketing.

Therefor I often want my early draft logos to go onto a website (draft website) as early as possible. It may change, twenty, twenty five times on the draft website. I can’t properly evaluate it, until I see it ‘in action’.

A web design aside

A website is a particularly difficult environment for a logo. The very small, tight space it gets to fill, is very tricky to make work. Minimalism and simplicity are required. A few years ago tag lines were typically also in the logo area of a website. This is no longer the case. Strong brands now only deploy their symbol, minus the name. This is partly to do with the aesthetics, and also relating to the URL being part of the brand identity. ‘The visitor is in the building’. You are on their website, the customer/client is in your domain.

Step 6. A look back.

Depending how the design is developing I will go back to my initial sketches, previous Illustrator designs to see if a better solution was created earlier. Enough time having passed for me to evaluate better.  I may screenshot the draft website to experiment a little in Illustrator. Again duplicating and reworking the design countless times. Evaluating, re-evaluating constantly.

Step 7. The client.

From this process I typically have three, very strong, logo directions for the client. Sometimes I know I have it, and have ‘the one’. Albeit may need tweaking. In the interest of honesty I typically tell the client this. I will have said three in my initial contract. And simply put it to them explaining my thoughts. Always with a view to they can see the other designs if they wish. Almost always the client is happy with the one I believe to be the correct solution. At the very least the correct direction, there may be fine tuning to come. They usually don’t wish to see my workings or the artwork I have rejected. But it is available if they want it.

The previous version of the logo was orange, which it was considered important to maintain in the interest of continuity. I was made aware of a secondary issue they had. The name and website are referred to as SCOOP, the URL for the website is i-scoop.org, which they felt, gave some issues for their web visitors. It wasn’t essential to include the ‘i’, but if a way to incorporate it into the design could be found, that would be beneficial.

The final portfolio piece is here. https://iaincameron.dk/design-portfolio/scoop-web-design/