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Building a Brand: From Sketch to Final Logo

From natural product brands to legacy social impact organizations, a brand logo doesn’t just *waves hands wildly* appear. But it does beg the question: what type of brand-building sorcery goes on behind the curtain? 

There’s no curtain. Or sorcery (sorry). But there are a lot of open Google Chrome/Safari tabs and a ton of sketching and tinkering. Mark Pinkerton — an Art Director at Vermilion, Skee-Ball builder, and home renovation DIYer — gives us an up-close look at how he generally approaches brand and logo development, from initial sketch to client approval. 

Q: Every brand and logo project is different, but (very) generally speaking, what’s your process like? 

Before I start sketching, I research the client, their competitors, and look for non-category inspiration to get a high-level, well-rounded sense of where the brand could go. I always like to try to envision where they aspire to be as they grow in the future.

Q: Where do you find brand or logo inspiration and how do you push yourself to iterate?

I try to work in a space away from my computer. It can be tempting to immediately start digitally refining an idea, but I find it’s better to stick with sketching for a while to really explore my options. I try to fill up several sheets of paper with rough ideas, then when I find something I like I’ll get out the tracing paper and refine one idea over and over.

Q: Most of us at Vermilion have an endless desire to refine and tinker. How do you know when to call it?

Once I start refining an idea I make lots of copies of it so I’m free to iterate and explore, knowing I can always go back to earlier versions. Usually, I can tell when I’m belaboring the details or pushing it too far. It always helps to grab someone else in the studio to see what resonates with them.

Q: When you’re not sketching for work, what would we find you sketching or creating?

You’ll find me trying to make my kids laugh by drawing ridiculous things like roller skating alligators. Or sketching out plans for the house or other little art projects. For some reason, I tend to use loose scraps of paper rather than a sketchbook, so it can get a little hard to manage where they all end up.

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