John Rainsford

Rebranding Pixelcode: Three Ideas

This article was posted on Tuesday, 15th March 2011

This is the third instalment of the branding exercise I did for my own company, Pixelcode. After making the decision to create a new brand and then doing some research I now had to get down to work and actually create the logos and logotype.

Ideas from copybook

I had several different ideas in my copybook for potential logos, but as I began sketching out ideas for implementation (like how it would look on a website) I always seemed to gravitate towards an idea that stemmed from an infinity loop. I love the infinity loop and it’s three dimensional cousin, the möbius strip, but this idea began to morph into a stylised P.

Stylised P- Idea 1

This eclipsed any other ideas I had and I took a real shine to it. Unfortunately after a ‘honeymoon’ period of using it in dummy layouts and situations, I realised that this logo still didn’t provide a solution to the problems I was having. It still used a letter rather than an icon, image or shape. It also had a lot of issues when paired with the company name- run it alongside the logo it looked like PPixelcode. When it was paired with non-italic text, it looked out of place and unbalanced. The list went on- in this form it just wasn’t working for me.

Separation Anxiety

I was still enamoured with the shape, so I tried a different approach. I decided to make a logotype out of the icon. After a few printouts and printed guidelines, I scripted the rest of the letters in a similar style to the P, producing a script-like logotype:

Traced Script Logo

It was at this point that my love affair with the P shape was deteriorating pretty rapidly. Not only was a logotype less flexible than a logo icon, I just knew in my gut that it didn’t suit my business and the style of work we produce. It was at this point that I decided to scrap the P and the logotype completely. I was getting caught up with it and it was clouding my objectivity.

Back to basics

Images of third idea in copybookI went back to my copybook and decided to work on ideas that were much simpler. I thought about how my company, Pixelcode, would be represented in icon form. It then occurred to me that the simplest shape is a square, representing a pixel. I sketched up a few ideas, but I knew variations would be easier done in Illustrator.

After a little tweaking and several versions in Illustrator, I eventually had a shape that I liked and a shape that I thought would work. I added in a ring within the circular shape, just so it’s not so heavy in colour. It also reminded me of a bullseye, which was nice. I liked it immediately which is usually a good start.

Variations of the round logo

Halfway there

Once I had a logo shape, I needed a typeface to pair with it. Having (over)used Helvetica previously, I wanted something that wasn’t so common and I was definitely open to a seriffed font. I tried a couple of different ‘faces, until I stumbled across a typeface that I have had since pre-OSX, a typeface originally sold by FontFont but now appears to be owned by FontShop. The typeface is called ‘The Serif’.

I have had this font for so long, I can’t remember why I got it in the first place. I will probably have to re-buy it, as the version I have has no Euro symbols, but at least I’ll get a couple of nice new OpenType fonts instead of the tatty TrueType fonts I currently own. A bit of fiddling and resizing and I finally had the combination I was looking for.

Magnetic Board with Logo ideas on itAs with the previous two designs, I printed out some samples and stuck up on my wall. If you have the time to do it, simply living with the logo, seeing it every day for a few weeks is a good test to see whether it’ll work for you, both aesthetically and functionally.

As it turned out, the more I saw it, the more I liked it. I started to think of all the different ways I could use it on different stuff. I also put together some different examples of colour combinations and logo placements. There was just so many possibilities that I couldn't wait to get working with it.

The last instalment of this particular story, will be on all the loose ends that will need to be tied up. At this point I haven't implemented the logo anywhere yet, as I'm working on a new Pixelcode website. Once that is finished, I'll be rolling out the new brand on the main website, social networks and stationery all at once. I think the next instalment will be mostly be a checklist of work to do and how it will be done. 

Article postscript on Friday, 1st April 2011

This is part of a four-part Rebranding Pixelcode series. It consists of 1. A preamble, 2. Research, 3. Three Ideas and 4. Promoting Completion.

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