How do you choose a logo?
Choosing a logo for your business seems full of pitfalls and all the advice out there can somewhat muddy the waters. There are the extremes to be avoided; too abstract, too complicated, too generic, the wrong colours for your industry, too boring, too whimsical. I suddenly started taking notice of all the logos that surround us on a daily basis. Which ones immediately spring to your mind? I started to evaluate them on: gut reaction, simplicity, being memorable, its representation of what was on offer.
How does everyone else create a logo?
Obviously, a brand’s logo is only part of a wider marketing strategy and the bigger the company, the bigger their advertising budget. We all recognise Apple partly because they have the money to be everywhere.
This is also why the McDonald’s ‘golden m’ makes learning the letter ‘m’ an easier prospect, to most children, than the rest of the alphabet! This reminds me of being a new teacher, learning to teach reading, being fascinated by how much awareness of environmental print formed children’s initial experience of reading (‘logographic’ readers). But I digress…
Multinational firms with entire design teams can research which font/colour/image most appeals to their precisely researched target audience. I read some of their conclusions and advice in assorted articles, but eventually realised there was no ‘right’ answer – I just had to make a decision for myself.
What do I want?
My aim was to have a simple, unique logo to represent copycontentwriter.co.uk. I wanted to steer clear of images of a pen, laptop or words. They do clearly say ‘I’m a writer’, but they are too generic. My secret desire for a flamboyant peacock feather quill and inkwell was quashed as entirely too ‘Jane Austen/old fashioned’ (to my disappointment). Then I remembered my wonderful hand-cut silhouette.
Unexpected encounter with a silhouette artist
At a very fancy London ‘do’ I attended, I was the delighted recipient of my very own hand-cut silhouette. The organiser of the event had hired Alison Russell as the ‘at table entertainment’. She went around each table, cutting astonishingly accurate silhouettes for a few random lucky guests. I didn’t even realise she was creating mine until she handed me it, framed on a card. Watching her cut other free-hand portraits, the combination of accuracy, detail and speed was genuinely awesome.
I love the detailing of my glasses and necklace.
Mini History Tangent
My interest piqued, I did a little research into silhouette artists. It’s a fascinating world, continued on from pre-photography days. There is a Silhouette Collectors Club that has a useful timeline of silhouetting which starts at c600 in China. The Guild of American Papercutters summarises more detail about some of the different types of papercutting from many different countries during different time periods.
The word ‘silhouette’ was coined in the 1700s in France. Their Finance Minister at the time was called Etienne de Silhouette and his hobby was supposedly papercutting profiles. At work, his tax plans and reductions in government spending made him very unpopular. This led to the phrase ‘in the manner of Silhouette’ (a la silhouette) which meant ‘cheap items’ – definitely an insult!
I wish I had accessed all this information when I was attempting to teach my Year 2s ‘The Great Fire of London’. The Art element of the topic involved children cutting a silhouette of London to place over strands of tissue paper fire. Just showing them Alison’s video would have been amazing inspiration. But I’m off on a tangent again…
From silhouette portrait to website logo
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m emailing Alison to ask permission to use her artwork as the beginnings of my logo design. She graciously said yes, but I had no real idea what to do with it from this point – I just knew I loved it!
I included a scan of the silhouette to the fabulous Designworks, the marketing, design and digital agency that designed and built my website. They knew exactly what to do with it; a modern feel with the colour and simplified it even further by losing the décolletage area. I love it! I love it because it started as beautiful papercut art and was creatively altered to become a beautiful digital image.
It does not say ‘writer’, but it does say ‘me’. The words explain what I do.
Incidentally, do you prefer the vertical or the horizontal version?
If you are in the midst of trying to decide on your own logo, I hope that this insight into my scattered thought process may at least give you hope! I got there in the end. My only tips are to involve the creative expertise of professionals and don’t compromise on your original aim. And if you need any help with the words…I’m your woman!
By the way if you have managed to read this entire blog without humming “I see a little silhouetto of a man” to yourself, you don’t have enough Queen in your life and probably need to listen to Bohemian Rhapsody immediately!
- The Psychology of Reading: Theory and Applications By Paula J. Schwanenflugel, Nancy Flanagan
- Silhouette Collectors Club
- Guild of American Papercutters
- Silhouettes by Hand