Designing the PeopleRun logo
<a href="http://blog.seedr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/peoplerun_large.jpg"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-257" title="peoplerun_large" src="http://blog.seedr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/peoplerun_large.jpg" alt="" width="350" height="353" />
</a>I've always been fascinated with the creative process and what it is that turns an idea into something real and tangible. This makes me a sucker for wireframes, concept sketches, thumbnails, scamps and the like - they represent a peep behind the curtain of the inner workings of creativity. So when a little 'pro bono' logo work project came up recently I thought this might provide a good opportunity to shed some light on how we like to work at <a href="http://www.seedr.co.uk">Seedr.</a>
Let's not waste too much time in explaining the importance of the brief in any design project. You won't be reading this if you think that some vague instructions and a 'carte blanche' approach is going to be a satisfactory way forward for anyone.
Fortunately I knew a bit about <a title="PeopleRun website" href="http://www.peoplerun.net">PeopleRun</a> beforehand which is helpful. They are a community of runners who are taking part in a number of races to raise money for the <a title="Naomi House" href="http://www.naomihouse.org.uk/">Naomi House hospice & charity</a>. The difference with PeopleRun is that you sponsor the community or collective of runners, not individuals, over a two year period. It's the brainchild of <a title="Dan's Twitter" href="http://www.twitter.com/dan_bowsher" target="_blank">Dan Bowsher</a>, who by day is in online PR bod for Vodafone. Dan outlined what he felt the core aspects of the brief were:
<li>Something simple and easily identifiable</li>
<li>One, maybe two colours/tones max</li>
<li>Clearly communicating the community/people aspect</li>
<li>Something to indicate running in the image</li>
<li>Flexible enough to be used on a variety of media such as icons, avatars, t-shirts etc</li>
Paper and a pencil. That's it. If I'm out and about then it's always handy to carry a notebook (because I'm a traditionalist/artsy-fartsy type I always carry a Moleskine with me). This is the same for graphic design and web design. Draw something first. It's not just that it saves time but I feel it allows the ideas to flow in a much more free, easy and (dare I say it) organic fashion.
So where is the place where we create our best ideas? When I started analysing this for myself recently I was left with a startling conclusion: almost all the best ideas begin to germinate in the mind when I am not in a traditional working environment. And here's a few of those places: in the shower, on a lunch break, on the train, cycling to work, in a coffee shop. In the case of PeopleRun I was in my house but a stone's throw from Seedr HQ (which is actually a fancy log cabin in my garden) when I started scratching out a few ideas. The radio was on, my daughter was drawing some pictures, stuff was <em>happening - </em>and that's all fine. However, once the ideas need to be taken from the thumbnail stage to be drawn up into something more polished that's when I can head for the relative tranquility of the office/studio environment.
[caption id="attachment_251" align="alignnone" width="475" caption="PeopleRun logo - initial sketches"]<a href="http://blog.seedr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/peoplerun_small_logoideas2.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-251 " title="More ideas for the PeopleRun logo" src="http://blog.seedr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/peoplerun_small_logoideas2.jpg" alt="" width="475" height="345" /></a>[/caption]
</strong>I'm a fan of logos that are simple and unfussy. A good idea well executed need not be the most elaborate, beautifully drawn creation. I also always try to steer clear of current trends, but to a certain extent that depends on the business and the brief. There's some beautiful work on sites such as <a title="Logo Pond web site" href="http://www.logopond.com">Logo Pond</a>, but frankly much of it can look a little self-serving: <em>'Look how clever this is and how great it will look to other designers!'. </em>I follow the basic design principles of colour, form and consistency and try not to worry about creating the world's next great logo.
With the brief in mind I usually just start putting the most obvious things down, I try not to write too many words but to draw rough sketches or <em>pictograms</em> of my thoughts (yes, in my opinion real designers simply <em>must</em> to be able to draw). So in this case, unsurprisingly, there's a lot of sketches of people running. I'll often explore the possibility of doing something interesting with the letter forms or with <a title="Negative space in logo design" href="http://www.graphicdesignblog.org/brilliant-negative-space-logos/" target="_blank">negative space</a> too. Once I got into it I became concerned to avoid making it look like a logo for a sporting products company so steered my thoughts away from swooshes and lone runners; ensuring it conveyed the message of a community of runners was essential.
[caption id="attachment_245" align="alignnone" width="475" caption="PeopleRun logo - further sketches"]<a href="http://blog.seedr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/peoplerun_small_logoideas.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-245 " title="peoplerun_small_logoideas" src="http://blog.seedr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/peoplerun_small_logoideas.jpg" alt="" width="475" height="345" /></a>[/caption]
Working on a logo can involve those great moments when you know you're on to something. The PeopleRun logo had an element of that when I realised the letters 'P' and 'R' worked very nicely together and could easily represent legs 'in action'. The sketches above show how this grew into the 'big idea'. but getting from that moment to something that really works is not always easy. In one 'sketchlet' you can see where I tried to over elaborate the runners to no great effect. A logo is a representation, it's <em>symbolic</em>, it's not a picture with words, so when it gets to that point it's time to take a step back and remember to keep it simple.
</strong>Without any prior branding or colour guidelines we needed to see what worked well and apply some simple principles of colour theory. After a bit of tinkering we chose blue which is seen as positive, trustworthy and confident which seemed to suit perfectly what PeopleRun is all about.
</strong>I showed Dan from PeopleRun where I'd got to (not the sketches, you can see my first draft worked up in Illustrator below), and he agreed that to try to show the people actually running would be uneccesary and might detract from what we had. The addition of the circles above the letters was of course the crucial community element of the design and I decided to show them in 'perspective' to represent a line of people and give them a little more depth and interest. It was also felt that we needed to promote the web site within the logo which is the hub of all PeopleRun's activities, this was eventually added on the final logo design.
[caption id="attachment_275" align="alignnone" width="475" caption="First logo ideas presented"]<a href="http://blog.seedr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/people_run-logos_blog.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-275 " title="people_run-logos_blog" src="http://blog.seedr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/people_run-logos_blog.jpg" alt="PeopleRun logo ideas" width="475" height="161" /></a>[/caption]
Thankfully Dan at Peoplerun is really happy with the outcome (very important!) and they've already rolled it out on all marketing collateral. I'm pleased with how quickly it all came together and I think it gives a very worthy project a more authentic and dynamic symbol of what they represent.
<strong>You can see the new logo in use here (or get involved!):</strong>
<a href="http://www.peoplerun.net" target="_blank">http://www.twitter.com/people_run</a>
<a href="http://www.peoplerun.net" target="_blank">http://www.peoplerun.net</a>
</strong><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Peoplerun/139000956151633" target="_blank">http://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Peoplerun/139000956151633 </a>
If you'd like to know more about <a href="http://www.seedr.co.uk" target="_blank">what Seedr offer</a> please get in touch.
Written by Steve Morris