A brief introduction
FTFY (Fixed That For You) Fridays is going to be an infrequent series dedicated to ‘fixing’ bad designs. It will mostly focus on logos and branding, as that’s one specific area that I am passionate about. I’m not a particularly good ‘teacher’. There’s not going to be a lesson plan or an intended lesson for each post – this series is mainly a chance for me to practice my craft. Practice outside of client work is extremely important to honing and improving skills. While most of my training in design comes from a Fine Arts education, a lot of my grounding is in self-taught skills, hands on learning, practice and over 15 years of experience at various levels of agency and self-employed design. If you’re a beginner designer looking for more guided instruction, I recommend checking out ‘That Creative Guy‘ Shawn Barry. His YouTube channel has a wealth of information and it’s geared for those that are just entering the industry.
I’m going to start by looking at an actual rebrand project that fell apart. While the client walked away with a logo they were happy with, I was not happy with the result. If ever there was a lesson in this series, it’s the reminder that what we do as designers is not our personal art. It’s the one big realization I had to come to as a designer early in my career. I’ve watched several interns struggle to get to that understanding themselves. While design is an art form, and requires artistic skill, and can be art, it is not your art. If a client initiates a project, briefs you, pays you, you are a vessel for communication, and at the end of the project, it belongs to the client. Your ideas, your blood, sweat and tears may be invested in the project, but the ownership of it is, ultimately, the clients. It’s a hard lesson to learn for those in the creative field.
This project came part and parcel with a web design project that I’m not going to get into. There’s a lot of things that are/were problematic with their original logo without even touching the more obvious subjective issues. Illustrative logos are, in my opinion, one of the hardest logos to do well. There’s a few basic rules to follow, and this pretty much breaks all of them.
One issue was the confusion between brand elements and the logo. Brand elements are symbols, icons, and design features that can be placed in different areas to reinforce branding, and they can be part of the logo in certain circumstances. Brand elements augment the overall brand, but they are *not* the logo.
In this case, the illustrations of the children should be considered brand elements. Those illustrations could be broken away from the logo to use in other areas of the brand presence – different placement on websites, news ads, etc. That is the first thing that needs to be addressed – the logo, in any form should be able to scale, work in black and white, and be instantly readable. Objectively, this ‘logo’ fails in all regards.
The logo itself has a number of issues. Bad kerning, a clustering of design elements that compete with the readability, and a lack of consistency in the movement. The design is entirely too flat, and relies on the colour to for the excitement that the client was trying to communicate with their logo. While there are some logos that can pull off the multitude of colours used here, this is not one of them.
Pop Toys Proposed Designs
The first set of proposals I went in with was trying to show an evolution of where their brand was, and where it could go. Keep in mind that the client wasn’t looking for a whole new brand. The client was pretty insistent at keeping as much of the elements intact as possible. The first design is intended to fix the kerning issues a bit, and try to work the flow of the thing together. It’s not an elegant solution, but I felt it might be a stepping stone to visually connect the original with the other two proposals.
The second option was meant to harken to the colour scheme, and try and speak to the original structure but evolving it. Adding movement and depth to the lettering gave the logo a whole new movement that didn’t rely on the colours to promote that excitement. I was still trying to support something close to the original font choices.
The third option was what felt like the full evolution to a modern and exciting brand that spoke to what the company does. They are an event services group that’s primary focus is providing entertainment and gifts for children at family oriented corporate events. The core focus was on the toys and gifting, but they were also a resource for everything from bouncy castles to magicians, and everything in between. By going with a sans-serif font, fattening everything up and letting more colour come through, I really felt like this gave them a professional appearance that was also fun.
Pop Toys Revision Process
I’m not going to show all the rounds of revisions, but here is a couple of the last rounds of revisions before we came to the final. You can see how the design is de-evolving back towards the original. This project was one of the few times I’ve had difficulty bringing a client a logo that met both of our expectations. There’s an argument for me not having understood the clients original ask. There’s also an argument for the client not really wanting the redesign. There’s a bunch of reasons that we ended up where we did. I’m not going to speculate on the why of it is, but as I mentioned – it’s not *my* logo. As long as the client was happy, and it met the basic principles of usability, then it’s a job done.
Pop Toys Final
What do you think?