ASR Companies is construction company that specializes in complicated restoration projects. ASR was working with Barefoot Public Relations to build awareness for the company and in the process they were finding that the branding was too outdated and conservative for how they wanted to be perceived in a competitive industry. They knew they had a problem but weren’t sure what exactly wasn’t working with their logo, so they asked me to help figure it out and do a full branding redesign.
This is the original ASR logo. I won’t go into too many details about the problems with it but here are a few.
- The column in the center was too much like a Roman column. It didn’t fit their modern construction methods and desire to be perceived as the progressive company that they are.
- Reversing the letters “A” and “R” out of blue and the “S” out of white makes it awkward to read. There isn’t a nice cohesive flow.
- The font is conservative and outdated.
I sat down together with ASR management and the Barefoot public relations team to discuss in detail their business, industry, competitors, customers and goals for the new identity. With that information we were able to get a clear vision for the new logo, type, colors, icons, tag lines and other branding elements. The design brief meeting is the most important step in the entire process of developing a professional logo.
The logo design process is basically identical whether it is a new logo or a redesign. The only difference in the case of a redesign is that you have a baseline to know what wasn’t working.
I wish I had a photographer on hand to take a photos of our meeting, but you’ll have to settle for this stock photo of the guy in glasses asking the group to smell his finger. I think I would have the same reaction as the guy to the left.
In this phase I do online image searches to collect examples of successful logos and other brand elements.
I suspected that there might be a lot of other companies named ASR so the first thing I did was to search online for “ASR logos”. There were way more examples than shown above. The good thing is that the original “ASR Companies” logo showed up within the first couple pages as you can see above. At this point I knew I had a challenge on my hands. With a crowded field of other ASR logos, the new one had to be unique.
Since the original logo used a column I wanted to explore some possibilities of updating the column so it didn’t look like an ancient Roman column. As you can see in my sketches and even some of the early vector rendered logos that I presented to the client, I tried many options.
There are a lot of construction companies as you might suspect. I searched through page after page to get a sense of what is already out there. Through this process I found a lot of horrible logos and also some that were quite interesting. It helps give me ideas for elements and styles that I might want to emulate. Even the bad ones help me weed out ideas that might be awkward, simply ugly or too cliche.
Conceptualizing and Sketching
Sometimes I start this process before ever looking for inspiration online as shown above – just to eliminate any outside influences. Often the ideas I work out in my head and on paper initially turn out to be the most unique and creative. Either way, I always come back to the sketching process after my online searches.
Sketches are done in pencil because it is the fastest way to work out concepts for icons and letterforms. As you can see there is a lot of scribbling, notes and unfinished concepts. This is the part that really engages the visually creative part of my brain. Being a perfectionist makes it very hard for me to show anyone logos in this unfinished form. But it is necessary to demonstrate the process. Often times there are many pages of sketches, but in this case I worked out the direction I wanted to go pretty quickly.
Refining and Rendering
In this phase I choose the best concepts from the sketches and begin rendering the sketches in a vector illustration program. It includes choosing fonts that are appropriate for the logotype. First concepts are in black only and tested to make sure they work well at small sizes.
In this phase I selected fonts using a font management program that were appropriate for the modern look we were aiming for.
In this screen shot you can see the workspace where I worked through some of the four concepts I wanted to present in the first round.
These are the four concepts that I presented to ASR and Barefoot Public Relations. You can see that I focused on icon elements in groups of three because ASR has three letters and their tagline has three words – Repair | Rebuild | Restore. Since they are a construction company, I used “building blocks” in the upper left version. The upper right version is a very stylized version that looks kind of like columns or high-rise buildings. The lower left version is a modern looking font treatment without an icon. The lower right version uses more traditional columns and the font from the original logo, but with a slightly modern feel just in case ASR management was uncomfortable with major changes.
Presentation and review of top designs. It is best to meet in person to discuss which ideas work best and discuss improvements.
Our review meeting went well and I went back to refine concepts based on feedback.
These are some of the variations I came up with before presenting to the client.
I presented these vertical and horizontal versions of the best concept. The building blocks were originally square as you can see from the upper left version in the previous options but I angled them to give a more stylized and unique look for the final version.
ASR management really liked the way it was looking at this stage so I pressed on to make further refinements and add color options.
I chose some color palette options to present to management to get their feedback
We decided that the burgundy color was unique, sophisticated and fit the feel that we wanted to portray.
If the decision maker is satisfied then we will proceed to the next step, or continue with a third refinement step.
This is the final color version. You can see that I removed the vertical lines that separated the ASR letters. There were two main reasons for removing the lines. First, it helps the viewer read the letters as a cohesive group. Secondly they wanted to have three versions with different sets of words below. The main logo uses Companies. The other options have Construction below and also Repair | Rebuild | Restore like the initial designs. Having that many variations complicates things quite a bit and I wouldn’t suggest that, but they had their reasons that I won’t go into.
Brand Standards Guide
Create a basic reference document specifying source font/s, colors, size and position.
This is page from the Brand Standards guide that shows the various color and layout options.
This page from the Brand Standards guide includes specifications for color and fonts.
At this point I create separate color, grayscale and black/white options. They are saved in standard file formats like .EPS (for print graphics) and .JPG (for screens). Color options are based on the Pantone Matching System (PMS) for reference and color matching.
Brand Transition Checklist
We used this checklist to help keep everyone on track as we rolled out the new branding.
The logo and color palette was used on the new website and print materials such as business cards, brochures, forms, advertisements, vehicle graphics, trade show exhibits, pens, shirts and building signage.
ASR has been quite receptive of the new brand. We established a great working relationship and continue to work together as the company keeps growing.