Rebranding – part 2, how a new logo is designed

In the second part of this article serie about the rebranding of Xspray pharma (part 1 here) Georgios Kritikos, the art director and designer, is taking me through the process of designing the new Xspray logo.

Of the three interview sessions this one excites me the most as logo design feels like a mined field in the designer community. Maybe not surprising when one can buy a logo online for $5 while some agencies can charge $200 000 for the ”same” work. Logo design seems to be one of the most underrated aspect of a designer’s job.

Georgios, as we’ve discussed in part 1 you’ve made your analysis and convinced Xspray they needed a complete rebranding, now what?

After the analysis we created multiple moodboards to visualize the keywords and get even closer to Xspray’s identity. The moodboards helped us find visuals that were related to the core of Xspray and consisted of the pharma industry itself, Xspray’s competitors, other logo designs that both we and the customer think had been successful, and anything that could be a possible inspiration trigger.

Xspray is made up of the human-X mark and of the brand name but sometimes logos only have the name.

From the analysis we knew that the competition was visually weak. Most brands were only typography driven with no mark connected to their name, so as a result we decided on a strong mark that would distinguish Xspray from their competitors.

I’ve seen your sketch book and it’s an impressive collection of pages to get to something resembling the final X.

Yes, the more you sketch, the closer you get to the result, there is no shortcut. The process of idea conceptualization takes time as you have to draw, test, let it rest and draw again. There is no ”magical spark of genius” but only sweat and hard labor until you find something that looks like what you want to communicate according to the research you’ve previously done. Once again it’s not an opinion but work based on knowledge about visual communication.

How did you come to the human-shaped X as the mark in the logo?

Our brain has a library of patterns and our mind learns to spot them all around to understand the environment that surrounds us. It’s a survival instinct our ancestors developed thousands and thousands of years ago to avoid being served as lunch to saber-toothed cats. Today we are less likely to be eaten alive so instead we associate shapes like two hands, with a heart and that in itself with love and caring.

For Xspray we looked at symbols that would communicate something human, innovative and friendly, which brings improvement in people’s lives. Examples are:

It’s the combination and the synergy of the patterns that give you an immediate unconscious understanding of Xspray and its motives.

When do you start working on a digital version of the sketch?

When we think that we have something, we digitalize it and start changing parameters to test numerous variations. The idea is to keep excluding until you have 2-3 good ones. To an untrained eye it may look like you make a few decisions but it takes a long time. It’s like solving a mystery, it’s fun! Actually good design is about excluding things to come to the final result.

What about the typography?

At this stage we needed to find a typography that worked together with the mark. The typography and the mark can not “fight” with each other. You’re looking for harmony between the two. The mark and the typography need to support each other. 

Apart from helping with consistency when using the logo in the future, what is the purpose of the grid around the logo?

The underlying grid brings order to the chaos as it makes it logical and measurable. The grid brings harmony to something that may look chaotic but good logos rely on precise and sophisticated proportions in a combination of art and mathematics. The average viewer is unlikely to notice the grid, instead the logo just “looks right”.

And you can’t ”look right” for $5? 

As we’ve just discussed logo design is a long process process involving research, sketching, testing, production and that takes a lot of hours. Unfortunately very few people see the process we designers go through before the final work ”just looks right”. But when it ”looks right” we have created a logo that works like a shortcut for immediate recognition, trust, and loyalty and will motivate people for a specific brand in their buying journey. Now, I don’t think you can get this for $5 anywhere.

Yes, I understand you and the struggle designers have with the $5 logo design offers. Thanks Georgios, next time let’s go through the visual language you’ve created för Xspray.