Company Logo

Back in November, I hired Mike Rohde of Makalu Media to design my company logo.

Outer Level has been a legal corporation since 2000, but until now I have put off creating a logo. Since most of my business has historically come through consulting agencies and personal contacts, I neglected the company image. I have been operating as a hired gun. Usually, with one or two major clients and a handful of smaller clients that would send me a trickle of part-time programming work.

Now that I’m working towards a product-driven business, it’s time to establish a more unified company identity.

Over the past five years I have tried to come up with logo ideas, but had struggled with a couple of things: what kind of logo would appeal to big business and what kind of image to portray. Who was my market? The Big Company CTO needing IT type contract work or the family owned small business needing consulting work for their e-commerce web site?

It wasn’t until I decided to sell my own products that ideas began to solidify. I knew that I wanted to develop software for my favorite platform. I also wanted an identity that would work for both business applications and games.

Thankfully, this is where Mike comes in. Something I didn’t think about prior to hiring Mike, but would recommend to anyone looking for a graphic designer, is that you look for someone who can “consult” with you on your image. Instead of just asking what I wanted my logo to look like, Mike sent a short list of questions to solidify his feel for my tastes, personality, and desired company image.

Answering his questions wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The steepest challenge was to produce a list of keywords to describe the image I wanted to project. I had a vague idea in my mind but struggled to communicate it to others. Here is what I sent Mike:

Outer Level:

  • Outer = Think outside the Box
  • Level = Highest Level of Excellence
Primary Business:

  • Games
  • Software
  • Consulting

  • Bold
  • Creative
  • Passionate
  • Unique
  • Graceful
  • Elegant
  • Organic
  • Flexible

A little over a week later, Mike sent me two full pages of pencil sketches incorporating my descriptors and his own feelings from the Outer Level name. Some of his ideas reflected ones I have had in mind for years — probably the more obvious and common images that Outer Level brings to mind. These are precisely the ones I didn’t want. I was looking to avoid the common and the obvious. Also in the sketches were some ideas that immediately captured my imagination.

After much thought, but mostly gut feel I selected my favorites. At this point I was concentrating on feel and concept. There were many bits in these sketches that I really liked. So I sent back my comments along with my own sketches because I tend to think better in pictures than in words.

This lead us through several versions and revisions of ideas and concepts that lead us to this final list of black and white logos.

Item “C” immediately jumped out. It embodied everything I had listed in my keywords and much of what I had in my head but could not communicate.

To this point, the process had been quite fun, though challenging. I had no idea what was in store now that it was time for color. I envisioned blue, red, and even green as potential main colors and wasn’t surprised that I wasn’t alone in this train of thought.

Unfortunately, once I saw these colors applied to the logo design they didn’t project the feel I was looking for. But, I really liked the warm red-orange sunrise-like background Mike had incorporated. So I searched out some photos of planets, nebulas, etc. and sent them to Mike as a sample of colors that appeared in space. Maybe, these would help change the feel of the logo.

As it turns out, these “space colors” lead us in the right direction. Out of the revised color palette and several more revisions, we decided on the final version:

The process was great fun and an extremely positive experience. Mike’s service was of the highest professional quality and I couldn’t be any happier with the results. If you’re in need of a logo or any design work, don’t hesitate to contact Mike Rohde.

Update [January 17, 2006]: Mike has posted his side of the story.

Update [January 27, 2006]: It seems there was a glitch somewhere in my posting process that killed my image tags. I’m not sure when it happened, but the images are now back. Sorry for the oversight.

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9 responses to “Company Logo”

  1. […] Read part two of this series on designing the company logo. […]

  2. […] I’ve posted a detailed article on the design of my company logo over on my company’s blog. […]

  3. radioact1ve Avatar

    Congrats on the new logo! Very nice.

  4. Outer Level describes logo development process with MakaluMedia

    One of our recent customers, Outer Level, has written up a weblog entry describing the process of working with MakaluMedia designer Mike Rohde in the development of a new corporate logo….

  5. […] Mike Rohde has posted a nice detailed follow-up to my Designing a Company Logo post from yesterday. What intrigues me is how fun this process can be, particularly for clients. All of the clients who have collaborated in their own logo process have commented on how much they enjoyed it. Knowing clients get a logo they love and a process that’s fun makes for a very satisfying experience for everyone. […]

  6. david ball Avatar
    david ball

    thanks for posting “the process”
    – often we see generic recipes for process and final results only

  7. Jon Trainer Avatar

    david: You’re welcome. I hope it helps someone going through their process.

  8. Kosta Avatar

    Thanks for describing the process! You’ve got a very good logo.

  9. Mike Rohde Avatar

    Thanks Kosta, your kind words are apprciated. 🙂