A look at how we designed the logo for Vanilla Bear Films. Step by step, right from initial thoughts through to the final outcome.
When it came to designing a logo for Vanilla Bear Films, we knew that it had to be more than just a cool looking design, but that it needed to be an extension of who we are and to encapsulate what we’re about.
STEP 1 – WORDS
For me, my process often starts with words. Finding the vocabulary that represents who we are or who we aspire to be, was a significant spring board.
An interesting thing about articulating who you are, is that you inadvertently start articulating who you are not. And with design’s endless possibilities that can give some really helpful direction.
STEP 2 – RESEARCH
Research is a huge part of the process. It’s a chance to see what works and what doesn’t, and to see how particular styles evoke reactions in yourself. It also serves to get inspiration flowing.
For Aaron and I, this took the shape of a Pinterest board:
STEP 3 – DRAW
Start drawing. On actual paper with an actual pencil.
Luckily for me, my wife is an artist, and she likes me. So she did some drawings for me; no limitations and no quality filter, just whatever comes.
And after a few attempts at that, we started exploring the sketches that we responded to the most; the bears that seemed to have that essence we were going for.
We narrowed it down to 4, drew a few variations on those, then narrowed it down to the final 2.
STEP 4 – DIGITISE
Apart from the obvious need to digitise for a digital medium… I’m quite a slow drawer, so getting those bears into Photoshop for making changes and editing was essential!
We played around with sizes, shapes and positions, experimented with shading, detail and tone, and adjusted everything that could be adjusted; head, shoulders, knees and toes.
As we played, we found ourselves leaning towards the simple. As usual, simple is good.
We found that with a company name as playful as Vanilla Bear, that to go with a playful logo was a bit of overkill. And we eventually settled on the bigger and stronger of the bears, feeling that it brought out the professionalism that we were originally aiming for. That bear even seemed to have a sense of being a noble creature (plucking at the honesty & integrity strings we wanted).
It’s worth noting, that at this point in the process, no colour is being involved. Colour is a powerful tool that can really affect how you see and feel about a logo, so in the earlier stages of development, we kept it monochrome.
AS USUAL, SIMPLE IS GOOD.
STEP 5 – FONTS
This next step in the process ran alongside the last 2; with text and image needing to work together to create a coherent logo.
However, in trying out a variety of fonts… we got lost a bit.
So we turned to our good friend Tom, a graphic designer and coder for Fiasco Design. Tom helped us with the overall design of the website (including some WordPress wizardry), and really helped get our heads around fonts.
Tom’s advice took us back to the ‘why’ of the logo. So that it becomes more than finding a great looking font, but rather one that communicates feeling.
When I think of cinema, I think of Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Universal…etc… they conjure imagery of mountains, of a large expansive sky, of grandeur, and it evokes an almost nostalgic sense of the silver screen and the magic of cinema. Although we’re not a massive film studio, that feeling is something we relate to.
So of the fonts we were looking at, we found ourselves leaning towards the grand, the strong fonts (with a bit of Art Deco), and eventually settled on Euclid.
Tom then brought a couple of flourishes to the design. The 1st being the tagline ‘The Storytellers’, so that at a glance people can really get a sense about our priorities as filmmakers. And 2nd, one of my favourite moments (which I consider a simple wave of brilliance), Tom introduced a story to the bear, and used a simple line to convey a sense that the bear is on a journey.
STEP 6 – COLOUR
From the very beginning both Aaron and I knew that we wanted to have a signature colour, and after a lot of colour research and head scratching we couldn’t have been in completely different places. I was leaning towards the Red/Coral side of the spectrum, and Aaron was heading towards the Blue/Teals.
Our signature colour went undecided for a long time, that is until, we started building our website. We found that with a fullscreen video website, that the site felt most natural being darker. And with all of our videos bringing their own colours to the mix, our branding colours needed to be kept simple and minimal.
As we further developed the site, we found our design often incorporated 3s, and it seemed like a natural progression to use both the colours we originally preferred and to find an extra complimentary colour, orange.
They work nicely together as well as independently… if I do say so myself.