Designing For Yourself

April 13, 2011

Coming up with our business name and logo was not a quick process. We put a lot of work into setting up this business and we needed to get the name and look established so we could move forward, but making that commitment was tough.

We started the naming process by hanging a sheet of poster board in our living room to collect our (and our friends’) ideas.

Potential Business Names

Some were better than others, but nothing really stuck. We ruminated on things a while, and the poster sat untouched for several months. Fast forward to New Years Eve; I have a few drinks and blurt out “Small Batch!” And that was it. Our months of careful consideration are trumped by beer.

Now, onto the logo. I consistently find personal branding projects to be some of the most difficult jobs to work on. I always think it’s going to be easy because there aren’t any outside clients involved. When I’m doing a logo for someone else, I need to make sure I really understand what that person/company does, which requires research. Who is their audience? Who are their competitors? What the heck is cloud computing? Etc.

By that logic, this should be easy; I know our business, our capabilities, our audience. But I think having such intimacy with the project adds more pressure. In this particular case, it definitely slowed things down.

Here are my first sketches:

Logo Sketches

Next up is digital sketching. I started out by exploring some stamp-like logos, similar to stamps that you see on bourbon barrels. We weren’t sure we wanted to associate ourselves too closely with a bourbon distillery aesthetic though.

Initial Logo Tests

My favorite idea was a logo that incorporated some of the tools that we use.

Some of our tools

I wanted to combine them into some sort of abstract mark that wasn’t immediately recognizable as a set of tools.

First Tests of “Tool Kaleidescope”

I eventually decided a black background helped the logo feel more cohesive and less busy, so I landed on these three:

More “Gearlike” Arrangement — We Liked the Machine-y Feel

I also really wanted to throw a kitchen tool in the mix somewhere, given how much time Allen spends in the kitchen, but I don’t think this whisk is working very well:

Incorporation of Whisk

I wondered if the logo looked too floral or citrus-y. Allen suggested trying to develop it into more of a snowflake. These are my snowflake attempts, none of which I was happy with:

Snowflake Structure Tests

In the end, this is the final mark and typography we’ve chosen:

Current Design

I’m pretty happy with the end result, though I go back and forth with myself on whether I think it’s as perfect as it could possibly be. I do really love the idea of it, I’m just not confident I’ve executed that idea in the best way possible. That’s the eternal trouble with making art: sometimes we get a sense that something might not be ‘all the way perfect’, and it can be hard to know when to stop refining something and just let it be.