Clients don’t usually show up at the Monthly Brand. The interaction between client and designer is a topic I’ve chose to disregard entirely with this blog, mostly because it is a project centered around the creative process, and not necessarily the process of project development. I won’t say that a client’s integration hampers the creative process outright, I have actually experienced processes where the client truly brought an open mind and helpful feedback to the point of a finer, more artistic result. Since I’ve taken on choice of teaming up with family friends for this month’s brand, naturally their input should be involved.
So the iterations have been passed by them. They’d like to see a version integrating some wavy depiction of the river in the lower half of the composition. Mkay.
Sometimes it’s difficult to discuss with a client just how much you’ve basted on a design. How that in between every sketch on the paper is usually another four or five iterations that you know are the wrong directions. That the process of refining is a game of considerations. However, I’ll be the first to tell you that you simply cannot understand a successful direction in your mind; graphics are visual, and everyone needs to see a graphic idea to believe in it, or to understand it isn’t successful.
I’ve drawn up the iterations (as well as some of my own that I thought I’d explore at the same time—I actually thought the trees needed some consideration) and here are my conclusions: the wavy lines have been considered from the beginning of the process, almost from the very first sketch. Here’s my problem with wavy lines: other than being a tad trite, the waves don’t read river to me. They are more or less universal for water, but in these iterations, and several others attempted, they come off as “ocean” or “dunes” or I would even venture to say “flood,” given their positioning. The wavy lines, from the beginning, have given me this discomfort, that they weren’t exactly capturing the spirit of the coursing unity of the water. They weren’t communicating the rush, or the flow of river.
At this point I’m absolute in the overall circular composition, the divided O that communicates unity and a comforting embrace—at this point, it’s a matter of polishing the graphics, so the positioning of this water, whatever its form, should remain the same. After exploring the wavy water, after resolving more iterations and sleeping on the design I am still drawn to the concentric half-circle water. I have three reasons: one, it has a purposeful movement as it appears the “water” is moving in unison and is deliberate. I get that water has this cascade of waves, whitewater, rapids and so forth. I appreciate that and can see part of that through the wavy lines. Wavy is distracting to me though—it is developing dissonance in logo that is supposed to be about peace and happiness. Two, the bend of the half-circles is just so nice; it’s literally cradling this central circle, which for me, pops between a simple negative space to an O and something in a positive space. By that, I mean, it almost appears that something is there, a solace, a nest, in the middle. It’s not just empty space, the concentric lines that are the river are moving around something. Three, the concentric lines just speak cradle to me, they speak comfort and welcoming, and that is a hard thing achieve, mostly because its so abstract. I keep thinking of the United Way logo, and how its concentric lines both shelter and welcome the viewer. From the beginning, when considering the cattle brands, I was drawn to the “rocking” ranch brand. It would usually be a curved half-circle below a letter. This had both a playful response, but also, there was something like iced tea on a back porch to me. Simple curved lines at the base of a design just makes me feel better.
Here’s the version with concentric half-circles, refined “tree” upper half with a more robust canopy and refined line thickness:
Client/designer discussions aren’t really something I discuss here, but it’s worth diving into every now and then. Justification and words and true impressions of the graphic language that is being designed is important in any project. Clients often want more than the graphic; they want a pitch. That’s okay, I got over that a long time ago, and I actually think I’m halfway decent at that part of the job. Above I’ve given my professional opinions about the logo’s development and one aspect of the design, how the river should be depicted. In the end, its the client’s logo; they’re the ones who will live with the results. It’s a matter of communicating, both graphically and verbally to the clients, the intention of the design, and hopefully we’re speaking the same language. I’ll await impressions from Dotty and Mountain Man, and hopefully nip this logo in the bud.