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5 Steps to Redesigning your Logo

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Creating a logo is always such a tricky task for a design team. It can be so subjective, and trying to get out what’s in the stakeholders mind can seem impossible. Here’s how we went out it.

So let’s start at the top…

Once upon a time, there was a company called Clubhouse. Clubhouse was a project management software that was great. People loved using it. Then, one day, another Clubhouse appeared. The other Clubhouse was a social audio app that was great too. People loved using it too. It grew and grew until the original Clubhouse app had to change its name.

Shortcut was born.

And so begins our tale about how we developed our new logo. In this article I’m going to break down the steps we took to help guide use through the process of creating that very logo.

Step 1 : Create success criteria
Step 2: Identify Creative Directions
Step 3: Choose a Set of Solid Solutions
Step 4: Choose one solid direction and refine
Step 5: Final Refinement

So here we go…🚀

Step 1: Create Success Criteria

This part is so often skipped, but it’s vital to create a focused goal to be able to align the final output towards. How do we know we’ve created an output that is what we had hoped for?

For us here at Shortcut, we put together a set of criteria we would wish our logo to adhere to. Obviously logo design is extremely subjective, so we wanted to try nail as many of these items as possible. We knew we wouldn’t check every box, but that was ok. We wanted the logo to:

  • work well with the collateral
  • work well at different size
  • stand up to the competition
  • be simple yet recognizeable
  • align to our company values

Step 2: Identify Creative Directions

It would be too easy to just dive in with both feet and start pumping out possible marks without much consideration for any process. I’ve done it many times before. But it helps so much to have some structure. Break the process down into steps. Set out goals for each step, and draw a line in the sand at the end of each step and then be able to take a step back and take a breathe. Control the process.

For this step, working out 3 possible creative directions helped us throw the net wide in terms of different possible explorations.

Possible Creative Directions:

1: Geometric Shapes — Unique, abstract shapes that compliment the ajoining typecase.

2: Metaphor of a Shortcut — Symbols that have a loose association with our new name, Shortcut

3: Abstract S — Creative solutions to incorporate the letter S as a logo mark

After calling out 3 different directions, I started to pump out the marks, all with some considered directions. I created 100s of marks. Most awful, but who cares.

Ideation stage marks

Step 3: Choose a Set of Solid Solutions

Once I got to the stage where I was seeing the word ‘Shortcut’ every time I blinked, I felt like it was time to move onto the next step. This was when we needed to be cut throat. Dump anything that we felt just wasn’t suitable. Many, many marks were dumped.

We all (the three main stakeholders involved) voted and cherrypicked 3 possible ideas that we thought had legs. Weirdly our votes were all pretty similar. This is possibly because we were in constant contact throughout the process, and we all influenced each others selections, but that’s fine. We got to a stage where we were all satisfied. Once everyone was happy and comfortable with the direction throughout the process was all that mattered.

Round 1 Votes

Obviously the logo mark needed to be fliexible. And we needed to be aware of how the mark is going to be used. It’d need to work in so many different scenarios. On the website, in the app, on logo walls, in swag merch, across billboard campaigns. It was going to have to be so versatile. This meant it had to work solidly across all instances.

So, how did we shake the logos to see how scalable they were? Well, we put together concepts for the many different scenes where the logo may pop up. A color version, a black and white version, on our website, we made mockups of swag, of concept billboards, illustration versions of the mark. Anything we could think of to really flex the mark to see if it worked in all instances. In fact, you can check out the presentation for all these here!

We shuck it all night long

Even before creating the above scenarios, I was already aware of some issues that were about to arise from some of the solutions, but that was fine. It’s why we have the process. No point freaking out and cutting it out. Just run with them all and see what happens.

Here are a few issues we identified:

Ok, here are a few issue’s we ran into. The truth hurts. Even though you may love a direction, when you open up that can, you gotta be ready for worms to come out.

Issues with Overlay option:

This mark looked great, it was fresh, lovely colors and was unique. The problem was when it’s uses on colored backgrounds. The overlay didn’t work. It was Which meant the logo had to change to work in black & white. Nope.

Issues with Sliced option:

This was lovely, but it was just a little too generic. We had seen similar options before. Plus the more we looked at it, the more unbalanced it felt. It seemed like it was going to fall over. It all felt a little too slippy.

Issues with Shaped S option:

This felt like an outside bet. We struggled to apply nice colors to it. Also, we soon spotted a very similar mark on another product which was the nail in the coffin. Too generic.

After some long discussions about what direction works best, taking in all the different considerations, it was agreed that the Overlay option worked best, albeit we’d need to try figure out the issue around it not working in black & white.

Step 4: Choose one solid direction and refine

Like I said, we were aware that the overlay option had issues, but everyone has issues, right? What would life be without issues. It’s about trying to work the issues out and move forward. So, I took a step back and thought about how we could keep the concept in tact, but refine the actual mark itself.

This process, again was tedious. I must of created about 30 different variations of the above marks. Check out the presentation here!

Some interesting, some awful, but again, it’s all part of the process so just run with them and see what happened.

Too snakey, too dated, too obvious, too overlapped, doesn’t work in small states, doesn’t work in big states. The next step was to cut the list of marks once again. Only 3 could survive, the rest would be banished forever.

We found fault in nearly all of the idea….but we whittled the collection down to three.

Oooooh boy, things were starting to heat up at this stage.

We went through the same process as before. We shuck them, all different instances to see how they worked in every possible format. You can see the presentation here!

Even though we had chosen 3, I knew which was best. For me, the overlapping version still had the two tone issue, it just wouldn’t work. I also felt the 3rd option, the mark in the circle was too obvious. Having a mark in a circle is always too obvious in my opinion, it feels like the easy way to out.

The middle mark, the stroke based one, worked. It worked as a stamp, it worked small, it worked huge, it didn’t overpower the typeface, it was unique, it was memorable, it was very, very interesting. We kicked it across all the multiple different uses cases, on coffee cups, on billboards, on logo walls and it fitted very comfortably.

Behold, our new mark!

So, after much back and forth, we decided we had a possible winner and we took the next step forward in the process.

Step 5: Final Refinement

Whatsdafont?
One of the aspects throughout this process that we kept kicking to the end was the font choice. We were only really focusing on the mark. This was mainly because we had an idea of what font we wanted the use. It was always going to be a pretty safe, san serif font. And to be honest, in the back on my mind, I knew we were probably going to run with the font that we used for our previous logo, which was Neutrif. The reason being it was a lovely font. It was also a subtle hat tip to our previous logo. We felt if that font complimented the new mark, then why not keep it and move on. It meant one less element for our users to readjust to, it was familiar. Again, after some refinement of the font, tightening some kerning issues and tweaking some of the letters slightly, we were ready to move onto what colors we would allow.

Whatsdacolors?

So, the final subjective challenge to tackle was the colors to be used. In fairness, if you look through the previous instances of the mark, I always was drifting towards using our blue as the primary color of the symbol, but, we still had to dig through the colors available and make sure we chose the correct one, so the same process once again was used to check the different instances. You can see the process here! (I was really starting to dislike that figma file by the end of all this haha…)

The color options available

The easy winner for this was our blue. It was soft and clean and give the overall logo a nice balance.

Winner winner, chicken dinner…

…Time to unleash it to the real world.

This stage was basically taking out all the rules I had in my head about the logo and putting it down on paper, so that people knew how to use it. And then actually using the logo in real world instances!

One thing that I forgot to note across this whole project, was that we only had a 2 week window to actually do the whole process. With the name change and engineering handovers, we needed to get this project done in a flash.

2 weeks sounds pretty short, right? It was pretty intensive, but to be honest, having this solid process, with a super focused group of stakeholders, who were totally aware of the timeframes, meant we could move fast and effectively. Decisions were speedy, and we were all honest with each other. It all went so smoothly. Team work makes the dream work…

Working Examples of our New Logo!

So we wanted to unveil our new name (and logo) with a bang. And we did just that. A huge marketing campaign is underway spreading our name far and wide. We’ve spammed buses, subways and billboards across New York, San Fran and Austin. And this is just the start!

Heck, we even got our name up in lights on the Nasdaq Bell Tower!

Oh boy, what a journey….To say we’ve been busy over the last few months is an understatement, but what fun we’re having!

So that’s that. Obviously every project is different. The one key learning I took away from this project, and that I would pass onto you, is to try keep control of the project. Even before you start, list out the steps. Have success criteria for each step, and only move on until everyone is happy.

Communication + Happiness = Success

Be sure to check out the logo in its new home, www.shortcut.com

If you want to learn more about our Design Team, design.shortcut.com

Feel free to pick my brain (or whats left of it) over at:

// Dribbble // Behance // Portfolio site //


5 Steps to Redesigning your Logo was originally published in Muzli – Design Inspiration on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.