Client: Pixelpaint Ltd
Date: September 2013
Work done: Logo-type design, custom lettering, branding development, brand guidelines
Logo-type and branding work for Pixelpaint, an online canvas printing company based in New Zealand. Having just turned 2 years old, the company was looking to re-brand in order to reflect the character, work approach and growth of the business.
From the beginning, we discussed in depth the identity of Pixelpaint as a company: what it's values are, what it offers, what sort of characteristics and emotions are core to the brand, etc. The original logo (bottom left), while a literal representation of the subject of printing with the ink drop and colour overlay, didn't really evoke the personality and warmth of the company. We were looking to really impart a sense of happiness, fun, friendliness and a personal, human touch. To build on this, Pixelpaint were interested in the integration of a smile somewhere within the logo. Maintaining a strong impression of quality, value, care and workmanship was also crucial.
Above: Original logo, planning and early concept development.
While we were refining the brief and planning the approach, I started thinking of ways in which to incorporate a smile within the lettering itself. Having pictorial elements directly in type can sometimes look forced and a little gimmicky. Instead, something that is more subtle (perhaps not even necessarily evident on first glance) can be much more effective and memorable. At this stage, we also looked at various examples of logos with a smile in them and discussed why some were effective and others weren't. Having explored a few ideas, the solution with the most potential was to use the 'l' and 'p' stems at the centre of the name, combined with a curved underline doubling as the smile.
The first developed sketch featured brush-style lettering with different weights for both words. This helps to differentiate between both words, facilitating easy and immediate legibility. With the overall direction down, we talked about ways to make it a little more playful: a more distinctive 'P', more pronounced curvature in the letters, adding some baseline variation, etc. From there I drew the final sketch which tested the use of a separate 'n-t' with an extended swash.
Above: Development of revised sketch based on a rough photoshop mock-up.
Reviewing the sketch, the disconnected 'n-t' split up the word too much and isolated the 't' (with the unfortunate side effect of also emphasising the word "pain"), so instead we talked about including a swash at the very end of the logo. The idea is that it would also help to mirror the initial 'P' stem, therefore highlighting continuity.
Having roughly tested the modification in Photoshop, I moved onto vectoring in Illustrator. At this stage, I paid particular attention to the stroke widths, the overall spacing and the precise positioning of the letters along the arch.
Above: Screenshot of the first vector version and minor deviations from sketch.
The logo-type itself was refined progressively, so at the same time we started looking at possibilities for the colours and the accompanying typeface. Working on these elements from quite early on can provide a better idea of how the logo will function in context, with some of its known applications (in this case, the tagline and a 2-colour separation using different shades of the same colour).
Above: First colour and typeface tests.
The curvature of the lettering baseline naturally lends itself well to a tagline set along a reversed arch underneath. As well as creating a unified logo shape, this is also further evocative of a smile (loosely mirroring the underline). For the typeface itself, we were looking for something that ideally had a playful, welcoming feel but that wouldn't be too commanding or detract from the logo. Two of the first ideas shown above were Bree (the more lively and playful of the two) and Lato (still warm and inviting, but more simple). Another initial thought was Pluto (below) but it quickly proved to have too strong a personality to work well directly alongside already distinctive lettering.
For uses where the full logo isn't appropriate, we also wanted a stand-alone 'P' that could function by itself. Taken out of its original context, the letter needed some adjusting in order to have the right sense of balance and proportions required for an icon.
The 'P' by itself is recommended for use at very small sizes (for instance, the website favicon) but for other more common uses, an enclosure shape helps to provide a more contained visual shape. At this early stage, I tried out a few different shapes to see what would best fit the letterform. As we advanced through the design process, the full stop from the main logo was added, an element which really helps it be more identifiable and recognisable.
Above: First icon version testing different enclosure shapes.
The main feedback on the first set of colours was that overall they felt a little too muted and too subdued. Considering the company actually specialises in working with colour, it was crucial to reflect rich, vibrant tones to really build on the fun, welcoming and playful feeling that the lettering evokes.
At this stage, we also talked more about how colour would actually work and decided to try a wider colour system, rather than just having one main version. This would provide much more flexibility when working with the logo and opens up many more possibilities for packaging, print materials, website design, and so on. We ultimately went with red as the primary Pixelpaint colour and it is backed up by 6 additional colours, forming an extended palette.
Here, we also chose Open Sans as the final typeface for the tagline and finalised the typesetting. It's more discreet and has a much quieter character.
Above: Final tagline setting and extended colour combinations.
With a quite neutral typeface as the tagline and main text typeface, bringing in a more distinguishing font for display use would allow for more versatility when designing. Helvetica Rounded provides a cheerful, soft and happy look while its clean structure means it's not too loud and still fits with the other elements. On the other hand, Open Sans has more font weights and is more suited to textsetting, as well as use at smaller sizes (particularly important for the tagline).
Above: Sample typesetting followed by tagline weight and colour variations.
As well as the 'P' icon, there is also a secondary icon which uses the smiling face from the logo. This provides an additional element that can be used as an alternative representation of the company in situations where it's less important to evoke the company name itself. For instance, it could be used on packaging, stickers, balloons, etc. in order to evoke the personality and feeling of the brand. The 'P' icon is more important for applications such as social media avatars and business cards, where the name is a crucial component. Essentially, the idea is to provide as much flexibility as possible.
Above: Creating the secondary icon by modifying the smile element of the logo.
I also designed a set of branding guidelines covering usage recommendations, colour palettes, tagline and sub-text, typefaces, icons, etc. to ensure consistency of the materials when in use, but also to provide a springboard for the brand to build on over time. The new brand launch is coming soon and in the meantime, the logo is being updated on the company office signage.
Rich Fraser, Pixelpaint:
I was looking for a new, more friendly, accessible and vibrant brand for Pixelpaint, an online canvas printing company. After stumbling across Claire's dribbble account which showcased loads of awesome custom typography logos, I knew I had to work with her. Right from the start, the standard of communication has been unsurpassed from any designer I have worked with before - so detailed, thoughtful and effective. She takes comments on board and the whole process feels very collaborative which is critical when trying to convey the business' personality. I really enjoyed the development and refinement of the logo, colour schemes and supporting iconography which left no small detail unchecked. The final result is a logo and supporting brand that I'm delighted with and reflects Pixelpaint perfectly. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend or use Claire again and plan to further develop the brand with her help.