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What is it like building a brand, from sketch to final logo?

2 min read

Mark Pinkerton, former Vermilion Art Director, offers an up-close look at his approach to brand and logo development for new visual identities, from initial sketch to client approval. 

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.

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 and 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 start digitally refining an idea immediately, but I find it’s better to try sketching for a while to explore my options. I try to fill up several sheets of paper with rough ideas, and then when I find something I like, I’ll get out the tracing paper and refine one idea repeatedly.

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 many copies so I’m free to iterate and explore, knowing I can always return 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, sketching out plans for the house, or doing other little art projects. For some reason, I 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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