Monday, August 01, 2016

Using Stories to Create Gorgeous Logo Design

It seems like every marketer is into brand stories and storytelling these days. But brand storytelling isn't a new phenomenon. Just our awareness of it, and how we use it is new. I would suggest that understanding a brand's story is crucial for professional logo design.

Every brand has a story. Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we in business? What do we do? These are some of the questions that get explored in a brand story. But stories that are powerful have a plot, a protagonist, a struggle the protagonist must overcome, a climax, and a resolution. These elements help shape stories that are interesting and draw us in.

Here's how to use story to craft great logos

First, designers have to get the story before understanding the story. What I mean is that part of the design process is exploring the client's business and goals. We need to ask them to educate us about their business, why they are passionate about what they do, and who they are helping. (This is why building our own creative brief is so important.)

Next, we want to craft the client's story into a narrative that is compelling. If the client can give us a compelling story, we are done, and ready to craft ideas. But, most of the time we need to help the client construct a compelling story. We can follow these steps:
  1. Choose the protagonist the client represents. There are at least 12 typical character archetypes we can use to get started, such as the Hero, the Sage (or Mentor), or the Regular Guy.
  2. Find out what obstacles the client needed to overcome to get where they are. If they are fairly new in business, find out what caused them to be passionate enough to start their business. What barriers did they need to break through?
  3. Ask the client what makes them different than everyone else in their market. This can help build a great nemesis for the client, which makes the client stand out more.
Last, we use the brand story to craft great ideas. Stories create incredibly powerful visual information for designers. This is good, but can be overwhelming. So, the best way to use these strong visuals is to combine them with what the client does, what problem the client solves, or what market the client serves. The juxtaposition of divergent visuals stimulates far more interesting logo ideas than a mere literal translation.

Here's what I mean.

Let's say the client is a bakery. Quick ideas can conjure up pics of cupcakes, breads, ovens, or bakery hats. Since just about every bakery does this, it isn't a very unique approach to an identity. But what happens when we understand the story behind the bakery.
They built their bakery to meet a need in their community. Low-income residents don't have access to wholesome and good-tasting baked goods. And the client wanted to change that by using affordable, locally-sourced ingredients, and healthy alternatives within this community.
Now, we have a set of visual information to augment the bakery idea. This suggests a certain style approach, that can be combined with typical bakery objects. Also, we can illustrate something outside the ordinary by keying in on the motivation behind the bakery, rather than bakery objects themselves — like visualizing the bakery as a hero image, illustrating its location, or focusing on individual ingredients.

This example is short and can be a better-crafted brand story. But brand stories are great idea-generators for gorgeously creative logo design.

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