Case study: Wild Moon Spirit logo design process

Published by Nela Dunato on at 19:45 in Graphic design, Creative process, Branding

When I asked people what they would like to know about logo design so I can write about it, most of them were confused about the process itself, and they didn't know if it's bad if they have no idea what they'd want their logo to look like.

In this post I share the entire logo design process for one of my clients, so you can get all the inside info about what goes into making a logo, from sketch to finish.

Case

And we'll start with...

The brief

Wild Moon Spirit is a brand for integrative health coaching service. At the time when my client came to me for a logo design, she was still unsure about the name of her business, and she changed her mind a several times in the process, but that wasn't a problem at all, since the essence of her brand remained what we agreed upon in the beginning, and the name didn't affect the outcome much.

I sent my client a detailed questionnaire with about 20 questions that helped her to get clear on her desired brand qualities.

The answers to this questionnaire are the basis for all the work I do, and I keep coming back to it with every revision, so I can make sure I'm always within the guidelines the client has proposed.

My client included two illustrations into her brief, which had the qualities she wanted for her brand. One was a silhouette of a woman standing next to a wolf howling at the moon, and the other was a drawing of a woman's face laid over an organic coffee-painted background. When I saw the images, I knew we were a great fit, because this style is something I do very well.

This is what she wrote about the imagery:

What I like about these images is that both are a portrayal of the wild woman who lives inside each of us, our inner goddess and feminine power expressed.

[...] Anything with lotuses or the usual mind-body stuff is a little boring to me. I really want to portray the power of our inner feminine or wild woman.

When I hear someone saying that the industry standard is "a little boring", and they want something unique that speaks their core message, I'm thrilled to work on such a project.

Initial sketches

I started by exploring the options on paper. I wrote out words that my client used in her brief and sketched some symbols that corresponded to these words.

Then I started combining these elements into symbols. The elements I used in almost all of them were a woman's form, the Moon and the wolf. In some of them the Moon wasn't explicit, but the circular shape hinted at it.

My desk with sketches for the logo
My desk with my initial sketches and a questionnaire the client filled out

When I was done on paper, I scanned these sketches and traced them on my computer, so I could send a cleaned up version to my client. I sent her 3 different logomark concepts, of which 2 had 2 different variations.
I explained that we're working on a monochrome version for now, and that the color will be added later when the symbol shape is finished.

First logo drafts sent to the client
First logo drafts sent to the client.
Excuse my terrible wolf drawings, concepts are not meant to be all perfect :)

Initial feedback

The client was extremely satisfied with the direction I was taking, and she loved the wolf and woman incorporated into a circle. She especially loved the woman's hair turning into a wolf, so we were definitely keeping that aspect.

She preferred the women without a face, and made suggestions to incorporate the wolf and the crescent Moon into the last one.

Second round of drafts

I made the changes she suggested, and sent her another round of drafts:

Second round of logo drafts

The client decided that number 3 was her favorite so far, but she had a suggestion on how we could change the second one to make it better. She sent me an image of an art-nouveau styled female silhouette in profile that she liked a lot, and proposed that I change the woman in the second one into a profile. She also suggested to tilt the Moon in #3.

Third round of drafts

I thought those were some very good ideas, so I went on and created a new set of proposals.

Third round of logo drafts
Looking a bit better now, though the wolf is still not so great :)

The client decided that number 2 was definitely her favorite, and so we proceeded with that one.

Forth round of logo drafts

I refined the wolf profile, and made two versions, light on dark, and dark on white. I preferred the dark on light, but I wanted to check in with the client.

Fourth round of drafts

The client agreed with me on the right one (yay!), and my next mission was to find the perfect colors combination and the font.

Colors

The client mentioned in her brief that her favorite colors were purples and blues (turquoises), but that she wasn't attached to the colors themselves. But later in our conversation as we discussed colors, she told me she wanted a gradient of some kind to imply the transformational process. I thought about that a bit, and while I could see the symbolism she was aiming at, in my experience logos with gradients had a rather techy look to them, and the trend of the gradients (so called "web 2.0" look) has passed and now those logos look dated.

I thought hard about this, and then I had an idea. What if this wasn't just a digital gradient, but something organic? I could tell she'd like it from the samples she'd sent me at first, but I didn't know it it was technically feasible to include a raster image into a vector logo. I had to ask my colleagues if it was possible, and I got a positive response and a tip how I can do that in InDesign.

I painted several sheets of paper in watercolor, using the client's favorite colors that I found quite suitable for the logo. I then scanned these, and superimposed the colored samples over the logo graphic. In the end I had some "swatches" the client could pick from:

Colored logo samples

The client chose the blue-turqoise combination, but she asked that the colors be more intense. I sent her the following samples, with my own comments.

Logo color samples

The font

A lot of times, a script font is not the best to use in a logo, but in the coaching industry aimed primarily at women, script fonts seem to be just as common as serif and sans-serif fonts (if you don't know what those words mean, the font you're reading right now is serif, and straight fonts without the little legs at the bottom are sans-serif, most famous of them being Arial and Helvetica).

I chose a font that went very well with the logomark, named Great Vibes.

I sent her some variations of blue text and gray text, alongside with dark-toward-light and light-toward-dark versions, plus a single-color version:

Logo with different fonts and colors

The client preferred the cyan text, and the version with the light woman turning to a dark blue wolf (on the left).

Final preparations

After the client has provided all the necessary feedback during several rounds, it's my job to prepare all the files for use. For every logo I create, I make multiple versions and file types, so compatibility with any medium is insured. These versions include:

  • Full-color logo
  • Single-color logo
  • Black logo
  • White logo on solid color (negative)
  • Full-color logomark (symbol only)
  • Single-color logomark
  • Black logomark
  • White logomark on solid background (negative)

All these versions come in both vector EPS format and transparent PNG. Vectors are required for professional use such as printing promo materials, and PNGs are compatible with every image editor, and clients can use them on their websites, social media and Word documents.

Now, before I prepared those final versions, there's something that bugged me about the font that I wanted to fix.

Moon font fix
Those dots on O letters irked me (above), so I changed those letters manually (below)

All the letters were connected with lower joining strokes, but in the case of letters O and N the upper joining stroke seemed not only more logical, but prettier. Also, those dots? I don't dig them.

Most designers would probably just leave it at that, but I'm a perfectionist and I want to do things the best I can, even if the client doesn't notice the difference. It doesn't matter — it's not the client's job to examine fonts with a magnifying glass, but mine is.

After those details were ironed out, I created all the versions of the logo, and made a PDF sheet with the basic usage guidelines. I sent this package to my client who was eagerly awaiting to start using her brand new logo!

Logo design final
Final logo design for Wild Woman Spirit

In the end, the client was absolutely thrilled, and when I asked what she would say about her experience to people who thought about working with me, she had this to say:

"Nela was fabulous to work with! I had a general idea of the direction I wanted to go in with my logo when we started working together, but nothing concrete. I sent her some images I liked and tried to describe the feeling I was going for, but felt like all my guidance was pretty vague. Somehow, she was able to take my vague guidance and turn it into an image that was not only exactly what I had in mind, but was even better than anything I could have imagined! I was blown away at her creativity.

Once we had the initial logo concept, Nela was incredibly flexible and receptive to all the little changes and suggestions I had. She even thought of hand painting the background in watercolor to give the image the organic and soft look I was hoping for. Nela made the entire process of designing my logo really fun. I can't recommend her enough!"

Why, thank you, Nadia!

I have to say that this process was very fun for me as well, so I'm so glad to be able to share it with you.

Are you thinking about having your logo designed? Check out my Logo design & branding services for more info on how I can help you do that!

Interested in seeing more of my logo design processes? Here are a few:

Nela
Nela Dunato

About Nela Dunato

I run a boutique design consultancy that helps creative businesses evolve into premium brands and connect with their dream clients, by crafting extraordinary visual experiences.

On this blog I write about art, design, creativity, business, productivity and marketing, and share my creative process and tips. Read more about me...



Your comments

  • Nikole Gipps

    Nikole Gipps
    2014-03-28 at 00:26

    This is pretty amazing. As a developer, I am the recipient of this process so that it can be placed on the website, but I never see the process of it, as it happens. I am also in total awe of anyone with artistic talent such as yours, as I have none!

  • Nela

    Nela
    2014-03-29 at 12:50

    Thank you very much, Nikole!
    I'm glad this behind-the-scenes was interesting to you :)

  • Karen J

    Karen J
    2014-04-06 at 05:10

    Terrific information, Nela ~ Thank you!
    I really appreciate how you get down to the real step-by-step in your how-to's, instead of using the equivalent of platitudes that don't really explain anything to someone who doesn't already know how!

    Would it be asking too much for more information about your starting questionnaire? They're used in so many fields, but I've only seen a couple, up close.

  • Nela

    Nela
    2014-04-06 at 17:11

    Thank you Karen, I'm happy to hear you appreciate the way I write my processes, this is very valuable feedback for me!

    I don't mind sharing the questionnaire. You can see a current version of it here: http://bit.ly/1qcY2IF

    A lot of it is based on the sample questionnaire outlined in the book "Designing Logos: The Process of Creating Symbols That Endure" by Jack Gernsheimer (which is an awesome book, by the way), but I had to simplify the language a lot because my clients don't understand the corporate lingo! :)
    I also added some questions that weren't present that I think are important.

  • Jannet Gilmore

    Jannet Gilmore
    2014-09-19 at 10:24

    Nice logo.... Also the method by which you derived the logo is fantastic.

    http://colorsinteractive.com/

  • Nela

    Nela
    2014-09-23 at 16:57

    Thank you, Janet! :)
    I'm still experimenting and refining my method.

  • Tamy

    Tamy
    2015-02-12 at 19:45

    One of the most beautiful and creative logos I have ever seen. Also, the process behinds it makes me appreciate its beauty even more! Well done :D

  • Nela

    Nela
    2015-02-26 at 20:58

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Tamy! :)

Leave a comment