Make the logo bigger! Building a brand

Amanda Palmas
April 1, 2018
Make the logo bigger! Building a brand

Over the past twenty years working in visual design I have crafted many logos. So many logos. Some I loved, others I didn’t. Almost all were asked to be made bigger at some point.

This is the life of a designer.

There is something very intimate about designing a logo for a client. It requires a designer to see past what that business is today and instead capture what it aspires be.

A logo must go beyond colour and shape, cliches or trends and instead represent an intention.

There’s also functional considerations. My benchmark test for any logo is always “Will it look good embroidered on a shirt?” Many of my logos have ended up on shirts, but mainly I ask this because it requires the logo meet the following criteria:

Can it be easily read?
Will a person be proud to wear it?
Does it reduce to a small size well?
Do the colours provide enough contrast for someone with a visual impairment?
Does it render properly at low fidelity?

… and you don’t get much lower fidelity than embroidery thread.

All that and a logo must also be styled for longevity, but still have personality and appeal to your client! Yikes. It’s always a fun challenge and it’s always personal.

So when my partner Soph and I started Kickstand in April 2018, I knew the logo design was going to be tough. I’ve had some pretty demanding clients over the years but nothing like this.

Where would I even begin in capturing everything I want for this business and my life and myself?

It took a while to even settle on a name but after a lot of brainstorming / soul searching / googling we decided on Kickstand. For us it represented a sense of impact and momentum that we wanted to provide for our clients coupled with the supportiveness and stability that we were known for.

For me, logo design always starts with words. By going through the process of choosing a name and refining all the things we want from our business, Soph and I had already given ourselves some pretty great words to help drive our brand direction.

Impact. Momentum. Support. Stability.

Inspiration is a funny thing really. It comes from the most unexpected places. As seasoned designers, we have a process we follow, a pattern and approach which is sometimes referred to as our ‘design practice’. We follow the process – words, research, typography, sketching, refining – but never really know when or if the spark of inspiration will hit.

In this case, inspiration came in the form of a hastily written note. My handwriting is nothing particularly special but something about that misaligned K made me feel like it was worth investigating.

As a typography nerd, letterforms have a special place in my heart and K is up there with one of the most beautiful. (Shout out to Q and X also) It made sense to base our logo mark on this fabulous letter.

So begins the process of refining, pushing, twisting, turning, flipping and eventually… completion.

The result I hope reflects our ethos of simplicity and stability along with a sense of movement and trajectory – a platform from which to launch your ideas – a kickstand.

Of course branding is bigger than just a logo. The ideas and intentions behind your brand need to be reflected every day in practice. This is something that Kickstand try to live by and always convey to our clients because consumers are savvy enough to spot inauthenticity from a mile away.

In other words – don’t make the logo bigger, you need to make the brand bigger!