posted by Veerle Pieters
28 August 2011
Some time ago we worked on the design of 2 logos for a client that I want to talk to you about here today. The initial job was to design only one logo for a new online application called Acturent. Things changed along the way when we showed our client the two design proposals. What happened was that he liked both. Sometimes it can be hard to make the right choice. The final decision was a smart one I believe, as we put both designs to good use, and it made total sense. So instead of redesigning only the product logo, we also redesigned the company logo. Here is our story…
What is Acturent?
Acturent is an online property management software used by landlords and property managers to store and work with all information related to their rental properties. This includes property/unit information, tenant details and lease information. It also allows the tenants to view their maintenance issues, payment history, and pay rent online.
The briefing for the logo was to aim for simplicity, clean and ease of use for the software. My client also added:
Ideally, the logo should invoke confidence and security in the product. If the logo can represent properties or rent, that would be nice as well.
Thinking process & sketches
This pretty straightforward briefing made me think in these two directions:
- Try something pure typographically
- Try out a design for an icon to use as a favicon or to add in the logotype
Typographically we thought we could try to split up the look of the name into 'actu' and 'rent' by using different shades of colors, or a different thickness. Another idea was to try out all caps using a light and elegant typeface, and a special wavy curve in tale of the letter R. As for the icon we were thinking to use the letters A and R of the name, or use just the letter A. We thought maybe we could somehow try to have the letter A refer to a rooftop, or just create an icon that can be related to a house. So I ended up with a bunch of sketches that we presented to our client.
For a long time I never showed any sketches to my clients, but only final designs. I was afraid it would create this indecisiveness, or that it wouldn't really give them the right impression of what I had in mind. Afraid it would be totally misjudged and seen as me doing a rather sloppy unfinished job, and that it would lead to wrong decisions or choices. At a certain moment, I don't remember when exactly, I did get the request from a client if he could see some sketches first. After having worked like that a couple of times, each time with great success, I started to use this as my default way of working. The chances that you spend endless hours on a creation that seems to be totally in the wrong direction is more cut to a minimum, as sketches do give a perfect sense of direction.
Sometimes I get the idea of a logo design purely from sketching, but sometimes the ideas are born on the computer in Illustrator purely by experimenting, using more complex actions such as multiple rotations in combination with copying a single item, or overlapping elements etc. Certain things are way harder to come up with by only using pencil and paper. However, in most cases the basic idea is born on paper, and made perfect on the computer. The sketch is often just a starting point that evolves to a final design in Illustrator. From this basic idea that you've created on paper, you play and experiment, and sometimes you even end up with a surprise.
The client really enjoyed number 20 of the sketches. The abbreviation in the circle reminded him of a (copyright) ® symbol and he liked how the letters a and c flowed together. He loved the idea of doing something typographical in combination with a small icon. He was also concerned about the usage of the letters AR as an icon, because the actu part in the name, doesn't have a meaning on its own:
While I did intentionally end the name of the software with "rent," I do have a slight concern of having the icon portion be AR since Actu doesn't really mean anything. I would rather that the icon part just be an A, if that works. Regarding just the typography, though, I think it would be fine to have rent differ slightly from the Actu portion of the name.
My client also liked number 22 and 24. Though for number 22 the link to real estate was missing, compared to the A in 24 which reminded him of a roof for a house.
First we tried to work out a proposal based on version 20. In this proposal I tried to connect the first letters of the name and then use the letter a as an icon that resembles a copyright symbol.
In the second proposal we worked out something purely typographical by using this 3D effect as if the letters are made of ribbons that are curled in a rather interesting way.
In the third proposal I worked with the letter A that resembles the shape of a roof. It was the only proposal that had an actual visible link with real estate and my gut feeling told me this one got the best chances to be chosen.
At first the client was in doubt and couldn't choose between version 2 and 3. Version 1 was definitely a no, and we also felt this was the weaker one among the 3 proposals. As for version 2, the colors and overall design intrigued him. In version 3, the letter A is perfect as an icon. Giving it a bit more time, the client decided to go with version 3. He proposed to use the design style of version 2 for the logo design of his company, Bia Creations. The letters of the name would definitely make a good fit to try it out.
The final design
As for the chosen version for the Acturent logo, we decided to use the special A in the name itself instead as a separate icon. The letter a that I was using wasn't very clear and could also be confused with the letter c. It also seemed that the color combination wasn't exactly right, and so we tweaked that as well. We decided to go with one color, and use the secondary colors for the design of the web site, going in the direction of some lighter blues with a bit of teal mixed into it, in combination with some orange accents.
The logo design for Bia Creations
The job to create this logo was pretty straightforward as the design style was already decided upon. The only question left was the choice between using a capital B and C or go for complete lowercase. After trying out both versions, we both decided that the lowercase version looked more elegant and suitable.
Once the logos were decided on, we also designed the Bia Creations homepage, the Acturent web site and backend interface of the Acturent system. It's always greatly satisfying when the end result pleases both client and designer. Nobody likes those kind of jobs where you end up just doing what the client is saying. We aren't here just to design, but also to ask questions why he or she wants it a certain way. When the middle ground between client & designer is reached that is the ignition point to the magic that follows.