I was recently asked a question online about my logo and how it was created. Honestly, it’s a lengthy project to create a good brand identity. Yes, this can happen literally over night, but a well designed and refined logo takes time, thought and planning. To put things into a context, here’s the question: “We’ve said it in countless ways on here but thank you for sharing so much about your process. I know this is a garage/shop forum but I’d be interested in seeing your process for the logo creation.” Rather than reinvent the wheel, I decided to repost all of my response in it’s entirety here for all to read. The original response is here. Thanks for the kind words. For the record, I ran a design consultancy for over 10 years and my specialty was branding of businesses large and small. I have a lot of experience with logo creation, brand management, creating visual strategies that include marketing, ad campaigns, etc. Basically anything that a business needs to raise awareness visually, I’ve done it and it includes everything from product, to graphic, packaging, websites and everything in between. So I come at it from a bunch of experience and with that came a lot of trial and error. However with any logo project I take on, it takes careful planning, a heck of a lot of thought, a lot of process, and inspiration. Knowing your “ideal user” is also helpful. In this case, it was a serious case of “the cobblers kids have no shoes”. It’s one thing to meet with a client, discuss what their brand is, what they want it to be and develop a story that embodies their brand. This is then interpretted and translated through my own lens/filter back to the client. So a lot of it is understanding what they want, but knowing what they need. With the shoe completely on the other foot (and it was my own foot), the project was flipped on it’s head. Now I was playing client AND designer all at once. I found over time that sometimes I need to actually separate these two parts out and in so many ways, talk to myself and ask those same questions I would of a client. It all starts with pencil and paper however. Sometimes it goes right into the computer (Adobe Illustrator is my weapon of choice for logo creation). Sometimes it starts as a sketch on paper, then gets scanned, refined, printed out and further manipulated by hand. This process of refinement can happen quickly or can take some time – it all depends really as you begin to play with the forms and letters (or numbers in this case). But generally, coming out of those first conversations, I’ll have a pretty clear idea, even if it’s a foggy one, of where I need to go. But it is very important to know your client, know their audience and understand how the logo will be used and what types of applications it will be deployed (silk screened vs embroidery, web vs print, etched vs stamped/forged/formed/molded, etc). So the story behind my logo starts in and around 2006-ish. Mostly I was playing primarily with the numbers “44” as forms but not really having any real inspiration and not really getting anywhere. I let this rest for about 2 years (literally) and pulled it off the shelf around 2008 again when I really started to get serious about making 44 Bikes a brand. This is when I had that conversation with myself and I began to do a “brain dump”. I needed to identify what I wanted 44 Bikes to be. What it’s heritage was. So I started by writing all kinds of words that inspire me with regards to bicycles, feelings, phrases, etc. Then I branched off into some nostalgic terms that related back to my family heritage, as well as my own personal ‘bloodline’ with physical heritage. This was really important because it began to paint a backstory of the brand that was really an extension of myself. I knew I didn’t want to simply name it after myself like “Henry Cycles” or something along those lines. That was a bit too literal for my sensibilities. I really love the dynamic that symbols and icons play in our every day lives. Things that are recognizable without fully seeing them. So I knew I wanted the logo to have some visual depth. Here’s a quick mockup of the original sources of going through that process of developing the logo from it’s original incarnation in 2008 (bottom) to where it was fully realized and refined in about 2010 (top). There’s a lot missing from this, but these are the most prominent forms that the logo went through before I was “done”. The original at the bottom took me a while to arrive at and the one at the top took a few days to fully develop and refine. Keep in mind that this was done intermittently between client work, late nights or full on assaults. Sometimes I’ll be working on one project that will completely derail because a previous project or even a future project comes crashing into sharp focus. I’ll have to push aside that work, and change gears while the juices are flowing. While this may seem disjointed it’s actually not. Each project vibes off of each other and continuously is developing in my conscious. So in a way, the more diverse the project load out, the better the results sometimes can be as they are all helping to push one another to that next level. This can even happen out in the shop and vice versa. But when I begin a actual bicycle build, that is done from start to finish without interuption. I do not mix and match builds (that’s a recipe for disaster as numbers and measurements could really be mixed up between drawings). It works well on the visual design side, but when it’s time to build, it’s not so. But it’s all really one continuous creative flow if you follow me. I’ve worked up a pictogram to help illustrate the story and meaning: There are two versions of the logo: One with the word lock and one without. The one with the word lock I refer to as the “44 Logo Stack”. Here goes: The overall form if you get rid of everything is a shield. That is a protective symbol so everything inside is locked up tight and under watch by this form. Inside of this is the “Word Lock”. The literal side of the brand. Just below and encasing “The heart” is “The Field”. This allows the eye to rest and plays a bit of a dynamic with the positive and negative shapes and allows the heart shape to rest as well as they eyes. This is also a reference to the gridiron. The basic shape within the shield is “The Heart”. I live and breath bicycles. They’re in my blood. It’s my heartbeat. That heart form is stamped on the front of each and every one of my bikes. It’s another way of stating: My Heart is worn on my sleeve. “The Twins” also play much like a left/right ventrical. My heritage is 1/2 German, 1/4 Irish and 1/4 Polish. The Germanness seems to get the better of me and this is a slight nod to the traditional double headed eagle. It also plays to the tune that I am married to a twin. She’s there with my heart. They point east and west-bringing the two sides together (and hint at the duality of the Number 44, divisible by 2). The heart is shrouded by “the Wings”. These are stretched downward, much like a bird would finish it’s stroke of flight upward, ascending. Not up or outstretched as to pause the form. “The Vents” harken the days of the balloon tire cruisers and the early clunkers – my nod to mountain bikes early days. “The Numbers” bring it all together so the shape is a shield within a shield = double protection. That’s it in a nutshell. All the DNA of my heritage, love and passion locked up in that logo. Here is the finished “Logo”: Here is the alternate “Logo Stack”, with the more recent and fully refined Logo Script that appears on my Down Tubes: Here is the entire brand platform which includes the Logo, the Made Logo, The Script (The Motto logo is missing – present on the image below of the actual printed decals): And here is the recent full decal sheet as printed in black. 2 kits per sheet. Mountain bikes get the “Double Trouble” kit where the logo script appears on each side of the Down Tube, while road bikes get the “Sick and Single” kit where the script is placed a bit high and offset towards the head tube: The Made in NH kind of gave me some fits, but again, I went back, thoroughly ran through all the ideas and meaning / story behind the brand and arrived at symbols and parts that held weight not only visually but also built upon that “back story”.