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Designing a logo

After my first game release, now I’m ready to take what I’ve learned about the process to better prepare marketing information for the next one. Included in this, is a new logo that I’ll use for both the next game, and for the Quip games as a whole.

The deliberate process to come up with the new logo I’m going through might be useful to others so I’m recording it here. I’ll use the term “creative work” but that can mean a single game, line of games, company, organization, whatever it is that you’re working to represent.

Purpose: Values, Meaning, Principles

What is the purpose of this creative work? What does it stand for? For companies, this doesn’t mean fluffy corporate-speak. This is the core motivating factor that inspired the founder to create the company/game/whatever in the first place. What is the passion and inspiration that makes this happen. What will make you stay up late, get up early, and squeeze everything you have into it? Write something down and make it as short, simple, and powerful as you can.

  • Quip games and my company in general: exploration. The concept of exploration is perhaps the deepest most motivating concept I experience personally.
  • Quip Red: Flexibility (aka. fight your way) in a physics-accurate “directionless” deep space environment

Goal

This is much like the purpose but a closer to the surface. For a business, it’s the problem they solve or experience they provide. For a game, it’s the conflict to be resolved, or what it means to “win”.

  • mentics: providing positive/exploratory experiences impossible any other way
  • Quip Anomaly: acquire research, avoid hazards
  • Quip Red: overcome the opponents through careful use/customization of firepower and motion
  • Quip Games: there is one that ties the overall story together for all the games, but I’m not telling… yet.

Personality

Play some games: if it were an animal, what would it be a: speedy cheetah, powerful lion, clever fox? What kind of food: sushi, spicy curry, cheeseburger, French nouveau? Is there a person who has a personality that embodies it? Describe that person. Brainstorm a list of adjectives and emotions that are how you want people to feel. Whittle it down to a few that really represent: after an experience with my work, if nothing else a person should feel X.

  • For quip games: each have a different personality
  • Quip Anomaly: mix of curious/confused/lonely and wondering/wandering.
  • Quip Red: a little dark and harsh. It’s the chaotic multiple facets front with the cold, calculating, capable-of-anything shadow/ghost personality behind.

Metaphor

Even a single game has a lot of aspects to it. When there is some underlying theme tying all those aspects together, the result is far more pleasant and meaningful to the one experiencing them. All the more so for a line of games or a company. One effective way of accomplishing this is to have a metaphor to which everything relates in some way. Even if the metaphor is never mentioned, having it will keep all the concepts during the creative processes from flying all over. It helps keep one centered.

This one is especially hard for me because I don’t like limiting things by saying them: “The way that can be told is not the way”. Also, considering that all analogies/metaphors break down at some point, you have to allow yourself to come up with a metaphor that may need to stretch to fit everything in your mind/heart. You might think of it not just as a metaphor, but as a trigger word that represents a “big thing” that might not fit well into mere words. Also, it might have special meaning to you but not others. That’s ok. In fact, that might be good since it will resonate with you all the more.

  • mentics: ultimate mental swiss army knife
  • Quip Games: [it’s secret]
  • Quip Red: a mobile sculpture

For Quip Red, I first wrote “emotional reductionism with explosions (lots of them)”. Then I sat down to design the UI and referred to my metaphor and realized… it’s fun, but it’s not a metaphor. A metaphor needs to be something you can visualize and derive from. So I thought some more and came up with a mobile sculpture. This led to one of those delightful “ah ha!” moments as new ideas around this burst forth. This is a great example of the power of metaphor: not only did it capture my vision, but it sparked additional insights and possibilities.

Concepts

After determining the above, we have a solid foundation to build on. Everything from here can be held up to the above concepts to make sure we’re using something that will fit with our goals and each other. So, now brainstorm some concepts that fit in with the above. Allow yourself to get really creative, even crazy off the wall stuff. Make sure to turn off your mental editor for this because often the craziest ideas are or lead to the best ones.

After brainstorming, whittle it down to just a few. If you’re working on a logo, you don’t want to cram too much in there. The best logos generally incorporate only one or maybe two ideas in them visually. Then, try to think of ways to visualize those concepts. You usually want something very simple and it may be very stylized.

Bringing it together

If you can afford hiring a designer, that’s the next step. Providing all this information will make working with a designer go much smoother than without it. A good designer should know the right colors and typography to match the personality and purpose, and how best to incorporate the visual concept ideas you came up with.

There’s a lot more to be written about this, but that’s out of scope for this article. The process will take time, work and perseverance as it may be frustrating here and there. However, the logo might be the most seen part of your work, so make it great, effective, and representative.