Behind a Logo Design: Rivers of Praise Ministries

Hey, we need a logo for our business!”

ExclamationPointGoogle shows about 140 MILLION hits for “logo design”, and the pages are flooded with ads for logo designs starting as low as $39. Of course, you know that what you get for that price is probably something cobbled together from bits and/or pieces of other designs or the ubiquitous morgue files that all design groups have on hand. Yes, yes, your design will be “unique” — it’s got your business name in it, right?

But does it truly reflect the nature and position of your business branding? Probably NOT! I’ve designed many logos for various types of businesses over the years, and it takes more than a little effort to develop a meaningful logo.

Five Cardinal Rules

Much has been written about the basics of logo design, so I’m not going into any real detail here, but will mainly hit the highlights of what makes a good design that will represent your firm. Here’s what the folks at logoyes say are the five cardinal rules of logo design:

  1. Your logo should reflect your company in a unique and honest way
  2. Your logo must avoid too much detail
  3. It should work well in black and white (one-color)
  4. Your logo should be scalable
  5. It should be artistically balanced

You can read their more detailed explanations at: http://www.logoyes.com/Logo-Design-Help_The.Five.Cardinal.Rules.of.Logo.Design.htm

Ten Mistakes in Logo Design that Business Owners Make

Just as I’ve noted the general logo design rules above, there are common mistakes made every day by businesses who fail to think of the long-term strategic importance of their logo. Many businesses think of a logo as a tactical issue for their letterhead, signage or Web site. It’s not. A logo’s strategic importance can be seen in the brand value of companies, such as Apple, who have grown from start-up to global prominence. Interbrand does extensive research on this, and you can see the results of their ranking of the top 100 brands here (http://www.interbrand.com/best_global_brands.aspx). Look through the list — note especially the simplicity and power of the brand logos for these firms.

Isn’t that what you want to convey for your firm?

But in order to do that, you’ve GOT to avoid these ten common logo design mistakes, as defined in “Smashing Magazine”, an online design publication.

  1. Design By An Amateur
  2. Relies on Trendy Fads
  3. Uses Raster (pixel) Images
  4. Contains Stock Art
  5. Designed For Yourself Rather Than The Client
  6. Overly Complex
  7. Relies On Color For Its Effect
  8. Poor Choice of Type Font
  9. Has Too Many Type Fonts
  10. Copies Others

You can read the explanations behind these top ten no-no’s by designer Gareth Hardy here: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/06/25/10-common-mistakes-in-logo-design/

Now that I’ve given you an idea of what a business logo should convey, and how it should and should NOT be done, let me give you a recent example of a logo design I created.

Rivers of Praise Ministries Logo

In creating the logo designs for this organization, I first discussed the business with Verna Law, the founder and a well-known Christian singer, in a 30-minute phone call. I’ve a list of questions that I go through to determine the focal points of the business, the audience and the concepts that need to be conveyed.

This designer-to-client call is the foundation of the logo design process. Without a clear understanding of your business and its products, services, mission and goals, no designer is going to be able to do much more than come up with a pretty picture. It may be interesting — but it’s not a logo.

For the Rivers of Praise Ministries logo design, I focused on three major points impressed upon me by Verna:

  1. First, the logo should express a global interest in spreading the Christian gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. Second, that the power source for Rivers of Praise Ministries is Jesus Christ.
  3. Third, that Rivers of Praise Ministries is devoted to evangelizing, training, encouraging and equipping other music worship practices so that the gospel flows out from the power source just as rivers and their branching flow.

Then the mental work begins.

A lot of things run through my mind as the designer in the logo design process. I make a lot of mental associations for themes and images, always within the context of solid design principles. I sketch out ideas and concepts, and, in doing so, make more associations between them. It’s during this time that, quite often, a “EUREKA” moment hits. The connection that conveys visually what is needed to the client/consumer/customer.

ROP-TreeSketchBranching rivers from a power source are like branches and roots of a tree growing outward.

From that point the design idea went through a great number of conceptual and graphical refinements. In this stage it’s important for me to work out the variables of what will or will not work, striving always for clarity and impact in the design of both the symbol and the type fonts used for the name.

Rivers_Logo-100pxSeveral preliminary designs were presented to Verna and her team and discussed. Further refinements were made. The end results are at right — and I’m very pleased with them. Their global interest is represented by a circle that enfolds the other design elements. Jesus is represented by a cross design as a central design element. The flowing “rivers” extend outward from the cross like branches and roots.

The design incorporates a well-integrated typeface for the name that emphasizes both simplicity and elegance without sacrificing readability. Two versions were created, one that stacked the logo and type elements and one that was set horizontally to place more emphasize on the name.

Central to the success of the design, the logo works well in different sizes, in positive and negative forms, and in both color and black and white. In short, they will be able to use it anywhere and everywhere — from a humble promotional pen to the most polished brochure or video production — and still build a strong and consistent brand image as they grow.

To see the Rivers of Praise Ministries logo at work, check out their Web site at http://riversofpraiseministries.org, designed by The Good Designs (http://thegooddesigns.com) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marietta-GA/Rivers-of-Praise-Ministries/107418822797

As you’ve seen, there is a lot that goes into a logo design done right. Need a good, thoughtfully designed logo for your business? I’d like the opportunity to help. I can create or manage your entire corporate identity branding — from design through copyright and trademark registration to integrated marketing and advertising communications. Contact me at pm@philmccutchen.com.

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