• Using an icon differentiates your company logo from competitors

    Posted on September 10, 2013

    In follow up to the previous article we thought we would show you how we developed a logo from start to finish and included some elements that differentiate the logo from a typestyle that anyone can’t be used and copied by anyone else. Here are some examples of the creative use of icons and illustrations to do just that and add real brand personality, and can be easier to trademark.

    OCTES-logo-300x97OCTES stands for Opportunities for Communities Through Energy Storage, an EU funded programme set up to explore the technology of smart metering of recycled energy and the likelihood that peoples attitude and behaviour can be changed. We created the logo and its unique font beginning with circles to achieve a roundness  so we could incorporate a type of meter dial illustrated and adapted font as a visual device as a representation of what OCTES is and what it does.

    octes-brand-289x300We also created the Buzz character so that he can be used to demonstrate activity giving the website some interesting imagery and assisting an audience who are not all native English speakers. Buzz also adds some fun and lightens up an otherwise mundane subject, taking site visitors through an easy guide what is involved in smart metering. And how could you have done that with photograph? Well you could but an illustration can be done in a few hours whereas to set up a fairly complex domestic location based photo shoot with at least a couple of models and some props would take a few days to set up and would cost substantially more and might actually distract from the message.

    logo-no-strapline-300x129Plumbing Pensions started over 30 years ago as the industry wide pension scheme. They recognised the need for an identity reflecting their national status as a financial institution with current assets of over £1.4 billion and 33,000 members. We re-designed their logo to enhance their position as a trusted financial services provider, referencing plumbing subtly as secondary as it is already in the name.

    The two colours of blue with the Gill Sans condensed font gives the appropriate reassuring conservative feel to the customers. The icon forms the PP initials in the two colours and making the letterforms in a simple way with two directional changes and although flat the top and bottom very subtly show they are pipes without over doing it but making a distinctive and versatile icon for Plumbing Pensions, providing an overall cohesive look that reinforced trust and financial stability. This retains the brand equity and a visual link to their history and industry roots.

    Pilgrim Systems plc was a competitive pitch that we won to re-design the logo and implement its use across the company website, sales literature, stationery, exhibition stands and office signage for a re-launch 6 weeks later at an international trade show. The brief was to create a contemporary image, professional, global, with a strong ‘techie’ feel as ultimately they are programmers who need to convey competency in information technology and software programming.  We avoided any direct references to the ‘Pilgrim’ as the actual meaning or connotations of the word ‘Pilgrim’ and chose to render it in a typographical style that was contemporary but we could modify slightly personalising it by chipping out some of the down loop in the characters ‘p’ and ‘g’ to make their own thus designing a logo that the client could build into a brand.

    We also chose to render ‘Systems’ in a different font style and colour giving more prominence to ‘Pilgrim’. The colours are a mix of a bold violet and a more muted warm grey to balance the tone of their identity giving stronger emphasis that the Client wanted, so we designed that solution in to the new logo. The picture of the man solving interconnecting points was ideal in conveying the complexity of the work they do. Pilgrim Systems branding and re-launch proved so successful that they were bought by Reuters and merged with their Elite Legal Software division.

    montage of illustrations and iconsTo see more of uses of icons, graphic devices, illustrations see our Icons page and how the become brand identities see our typography section by visiting our logo and brand development page  and click through some examples.

    By Neale Gilhooley, Evolution Design

  • Evolution of the Logo

    Posted on September 2, 2013

    By Neale Gilhooley, Evolution Design (updated 6th Jan 15).

    A brand once was just that a way of showing property ownership. No matter how small the product of service starts out, the whole point of having a logo is to differentiate your product or service from the rest, so that yours is more recognisable in the customers mind. But not just making it memorable but imbuing it with qualities that make it an easy choice instead of a competitors brand, even if at a premium price because of the perceived brand value created. Interesting logo design facts especially the last stat:

    •  Around 40% of companies just use text in their logos.
    • The most popular logo colour is blue, used by 33% of companies, closely followed by black and red.
    • Only 5% of companies use more than 2 colours
    • 9% do not feature the company name at all.

    Potential Clients often ask us to clarify what it is that we design, what they get for their money. They can be unsure of the difference between the design of a logo, a corporate IDentity, a typestyle and a brand.  The answer is more to do with the job that the logo needs to do, how and where the design is to be used, in which mediums, print online etc. And crucially how long should that logo last so both now and in the future. Clients with a deeper understanding of brand value don’t just tick the box and say job done, they need the logo to evolve and retain its relevance and that takes management and keeping an eye on their competitive set.

    Logos are designed while Brands are developed, from good logos. The trick is to build an identifiable brand with the logo as its cornerstone, so for consumers the logo then becomes the brand. The brand carries the full message so is much more than a typeface and an icon. A large part of why we buy is down to emotional reasons, why we choose to pay a premium for one product or service of another is often down to the power and success of the brand.  The best brands are well established in our minds, reeking of confidence and superiority or of other qualities that needs to be designed into the logo and used carefully so that each appearance fits with all that the brand stands for. However, it is the whole product experience that builds the brand up in our mind, not just how and where the brand badge appears but the colour palette, the supporting typefaces and as importantly the tone of voice used must reinforce our brand expectations. It is not a happy accident there will be a strategy behind that brand development as part of the companies business plan. The other key word is consistency. Brands can evolve but gradually rather than by shocking and potentially risking alienating existing users. Although Brands are somewhat intangible but they do have real asset value, to see the current value of the worlds most famous brands visit Interbrand 2014 Best-Global-Brands for an exhaustive list and methodology.

    JubileeRetroCan-300x17060 years of design evolution on show here, the pack on the left is a replica of an early beans can design from 60 years previous and its evolution into a re-sealable plastic bottle for the fridge, but we recognise it in a second as it carries all of that hard won brand equity over, even using a shrink wrapped label.



    Here you can see that the Grow Your Own promotion has overtaken the Heinz branding in size but working with rather than against it. This familiar sauce pack and they even include co-branding for Facebook which quite normal on mobile phone ads but not on packaging for a brand as strong as Heinz. A search on Facebook for Heinz Grow Your Own produces no results. Shame on Heinz they should have known that Facebook’s search is poor.







    The images above shows the strength of the Heinz brand, even when de-branded it is still obvious who it is as they retained sufficient familiar clues for you. These packs were created specially for use in the Selfridges store in London, not known for supporting brands in the food area.

    new_yahoo_old_yahoo_logo-300x168For information on the first Yahoo! brand development work in 18 years see the links in the comments section below. I hope the 87% of Yahoo employees who voted for change were happy, under fire CEO Marissa Meyer was.  To read their statement and rationale online via their tumblr feed, linked in comments below.
    Then just a few days later Bing also changes it’s logo and adds an icon see our earlier blogpost about icons). So here we are both together and which do you prefer, which works best, does it even matter? I cant quite see how moving from a well designed 2 colour logo with a fair chunk of personality – given by the reflective ‘b’ and ‘g’ , albeit in all lower case, to an insipid weak yellow colour and a pretty plain condensed font does not seem to work better. The inclusion of an icon should help (See our article on the value of icons here > Icons & Branding) but in this case it is pretty uninteresting next to the word mark but oddly enough it seems to work better on it’s own and you will frequently see it standing solo on the search site, it does look distinctive and the yellow works in contrast to the more colourful page content  There seems to be quite a gap between the B icon and the letter ‘b’ of bing, or Bing? we never know with all lower case logos (non caps). Usually there is a set spacing and an exclusion zone from any other object but here is seems to be quite large, we will see how it gets used and abused over time.

    Google-logo-old-new-300x198And then as if all that change in search engine land was not enough. Google has adapted and used – and sometimes abused its own identity – for years. They also broke the rules of design (and could even have been called Googol) and yet created on of the the most familiar logo in the world. In this case I’ve included a the words old and new beside the logos in case it is not immediately apparent at a glance which way Google are moving towards progress, still searching perhaps. What is apparent is that it is flat and has lost it’s 3D depth, the colours are flat too, it is designed to work better on a mobile screen? It has lost some of its personality and that affects the brand character, now a bit wishy washy and a lot less bold.  If they issue a design statement I will post a link it here.

    Interestingly a Brazilian graphic designer Paula Rupolo exchanged the colour schemes of competing brands’ logos. See how striking the results are.

    We ask that all Clients treat themselves as brand owners as the basic principles apply to all.  Here are some Q&A’s that frequently crop up. If you want a brand or communications audit for your business or if you have a question please direct it to and you can see examples of our logo design and brand development work at:

    Infographic showing step by step logo Evolution; for full sized image click here <

    logo-design-evolution-info-208x1024> Q. Is your new logo worth trademarking?

    A. If it worth creating then it is worth protecting. We use a specialist trademark attorney and so should you. You may want to protect your brand and also to ensure that you steer away from encroaching on an existing trademark, best done at the earliest stage possible.

    > Q. Will my logo last for 1, 2 or 5 years?

    A. That depends on the market, the competitors, and how well you have developed it in that time. Ideally the logo should evolve quietly over time so that it is always current contemporary and relevant. Look at the Heinz logo, it remains constant in the mind of the consumer but has actually been changed more than 25 times in the last 100 years, sometimes very subtly. A logo even if not used well ought to have some brand equity which we might be able to retain so we always attempt evolution before revolution especially when it comes to a company logo, their outward facing identity.

    Q. Who owns the copyright of my new logo?

    A. As creators we own it until we assign that ownership to you, which we do free of charge. Intellectual Property is a hot topic ask any IP Attorney and they will give you hundreds of cases where the IP rights have not been ascertained  often when companies change hands and the assets are being evaluated by Sellers and Buyers.

    Q. Which colours are the most successful?

    A. There are very few brands that actually dominate a colour and the colour selection is done with a view to differentiating you from competitors and standing out in the market (on shelf, online). It is also to do with enhancing legibility as is it vital that the text used can be read easily. Sounds obvious but I’m sure you have seen examples of very poor legibility, or fancy typefaces depicting very unusual looking words. Most logos are designed around 2 colours and it is the colour palette that we become familiar with and it depends on the industry sector, the company name (some names even suggest colours) and which colours the industry leader already has.

    Q. Do I need an icon or will a typeface do just as well.

    A. A standard typeface can be used by anyone, adding an icon or illustration will make the logo different and much more memorable (ideally for the right reasons) but it is not essential and must add something to the logo not just be a bolt on.

    Q. How long will the customer spend looking at my logo?

    A. They probably won’t see the logo in isolation but in use on a business card, website or leaflet which has a headline and images, so they will not study the logo, just take it in along with the other key messages, so support typefaces are often used. If it is a significant change to the look or colour they will notice but if well designed ought to quickly accept and move on quickly. Often when revolution takes place instead of evolution then customers can get upset for a while at least, this shows that the relationship is strong and customers can feel ownership of a brand.

    > Q. Do I need a strapline? (aka tagline)

    A. If your name needs a descriptor that explains what it is that you do, or offers a brand promise then have one. If you choose 3 vacuous words that mean or offer little then it may just become a distraction or worse a reason for unhappy customers to attack you.

    Q. How do I ensure my brand it is used properly by my staff or other suppliers?

    A. We can be your brand guardians and create brand usage guidelines and supply all that you need electronically.

    Q. How much does a logo cost?

    A. That depends on a few factors including; whether it is just basic typography, or it has an illustrated brand icon, also where is it to appear/what is it to be used on, do we need to create a strapline, is there an existing colour palette, have you done your own analysis of your competitive set, amongst other questions that usually come out in during the briefing meeting. Contact us for a free quotation and design proposal.

    You can see numerous examples of logo and brand on our website at or feel free to comment below.

    Further reading and associated articles:

    1. Re-branding rights and wrongs > Evolution versus Revolution – logos, names, hearts and minds

    2. Marketing Techblog Logo Evolution post with images of iconic global brands with images as the logo’s develop.

    3. Very good article on Evolution and Revolution in logo design, including some good practical examples from the BrandGlue blog see >

    3. Infographic courtesy of Glow Internet (Liverpool)

    4. This blogpost was turned into an article published by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce in their membership magazine Comment and subsequently turned into a 20 minute talk for Chamber members held at the offices of Anderson Strathern.

  • Adobe Creative Cloud subscription based software creates ugly headlines

    Posted on August 27, 2013

    Adobe’s move to the Creative Cloud incites anger (Mashable)

    Unhappy customers want to parachute from Adobe’s Creative Cloud (Wired)

    Adobe kills Creative Suite, moves to service-based Creative Cloud

    Online petition against Adobe’s Creative Cloud approaches 12,000 (PC Mag)

    Adobe abandons its Creative Suite to focus on Creative Cloud


    Creative Cloud complainers will love us, once they try

    (Adobe Software Marketing Executive)

    Like many other design companies we are users of Abode products such as: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Acrobat Pro, Flash, Fireworks & Contribute

    We have bought and paid for them as needed and often do not run with the latest version. From end of June we will be faced with paying a monthly subscription for any upgrades to the software that we have used, bought (licensed) and paid for.

    We also train some of our website design Clients how to update their own content using Adobe Contribute. This is a useful as it is tried and tested and very cost effective Content Management Software as opposed to an often complex and costly Content Management System. Bespoke or out of the box; CMS have relatively high integration costs, especially on smaller business websites and are often the sledgehammer approach, where as Contribute works very well and our Clients love it for its ease of updating text and images adding PDF’s etc. all that most Clients needs on a daily or weekly basis. The good news for existing users is that if you do not need to upgrade in the future you can continue to use Contribute without needing the monthly subscription, nor will you get locked out. So no change or costs is a good thing. NEWS: Contribute is not going to be part of Creative Cloud Adobe have told us so for new customers until mid-June this will also apply however they have already stopped selling the CD version it is only available on download. This is fine until you want to move it to another machine or device and then you need to ensure that you have a back up copy as well as a note of the product keys.

    Why have Adobe done this? They state that they can update and improve the range of design products as and when needed not on a 1-3 year cycle. Currently when users need to look at the upgrades they often wonder what the real enhancements are and whey they are paying for ‘features’ that they may never use, the classic software dilemma that the publishers share with their customers. They create it and we pay for it. Many only see this as a revenue generating exercise and a way of locking in future income streams. However they have alienated a huge and vocal segment of their customer base, many of whom now are hungry for an alternative product. So much for our loyalty. Often from a problem an opportunity arises, but can new products break this market dominance?

    It is such a problem that an online petition is now running with over 12,000, 23863, 31,988, 42,417 46,320 signatures (Jan 14) here: feel free to sign up as we have. That is a lot of customers, or soon to be lapsed customers.

    We also noticed how poor so many Adobe products logos are, these logos are not well designed but they registered trade marks of Adobe.