In 1984 Los Angeles hosted the XXIII Olympic Games. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Games logo. I was amazed on how powerful a logo could be - while the visual form was simple, the impact was unbelievable.
That was when my passion for logo design started. I was 16 and a university freshman.
Later that year, I designed the logo for the Annual Games of my department. Since then I went crazy in logo design.
Years later, after winning a citywide competition in Xiamen, China, among hundreds of entries including those by professional designers, I became more confident and even thought that logo design could be my back-up profession if I lost interest in my career as an architect/civil engineer - in fact I did both, for 10 years before switching to the pursuit of web/graphic design happiness, not long before the dot-com boom went burst.
In the past 10+ years, while designing web sites and creating graphics, I've got plenty of opportunities of designing logos for various clients and friends.
I regret I didn't keep good track of what I did in the past, but my memory serves me pretty well in the very details of how I went through each of them from conception to completion. So, here is the story of the making of my personal logo, which is one of my favorite and one that pretty much sums up my design philosophy.
Here came the task and challenge: design a logo that identifies yourself, reflects your personality, and/or occupation, background, hobbies etc; a logo that is unique, simple, concise, impressive and memorable; a logo that truly belongs to you and that nobody else could claim theirs.
To start the project, like with every other logos, the first step was to do some research and brainstorming. I spent quite some time brainstorming and wrote down a list of possible things that came to my mind during this process:
That was 15 elements/ideas already, I felt these were enough to work with. Did I miss anything important? Unlikely. OK, Let's move on to next stage.
I simply turned all ideas into quick sketches - in fact, in the brainstorming stage I often use sketches already - with one or more versions for each. These can be outlined or filled version. This is important for further idea development.
Alert - Don't be overwhelmed by too many sketches and don't know where to go next!
When my brain was working more than active and over excited, I ran into this situation. This could be a good thing or a disaster if you didn't know how to take control. I felt it was time to calm down, reassess the ideas, eliminate some that were less relevant, cliche or not unique, and keep only the most important one(s), for further development. I killed most of the initial ideas and kept a simplified list.
By now I still had 6 elements. How could I integrate them into one logo? Well, what is a false statement in math can be quite true in logo design, i.e. 1 + 1 + 1 + ... + 1 = 1, and I often enjoyed playing with this trick and got unexpected and satisfied outcome.
Don't get me wrong, I do understand that many great logos have only one major element in them and that's all they need; I also have seen many designers trying too hard to let their logo carry too much; but sometimes by integrating a few shapes/elements/ideas into one, the logo becomes a clever and playful one, therefore more memorable.
There is no secret, just keep sketching, with focus on combining shapes and simplifying them, until the new shape is simple enough, unique enough and beautiful enough. Don't be afraid to revisit some old ideas, or kill more in the already simplified list.
Here is one of my sketch sheets. I remember clearly when I got the one with the hand/eye/dove combination, I knew I was almost there. I gave up the idea of making the maple leaf shape into the logo.
I used Adobe Illustrator to draw this hand/eye/dove idea. Below you will see some refinements and how a tiny change may enhance the overall visual impact - the addition of a globe in the place of the eyeball and the openness of the lower part.
Are we there yet? Yes, but still there is always a final touch that makes a logo not just excellent, but perfect. By replacing the lower part with a brush stroke, the logo immediately gained more dynamic and was brought to life.
Oh, and the very last thing - colors! Like many great logos, my logo was designed in black and white first, then depending on the usage, different color combinations may be applied.
Below are some variations of the logo, with different color usages. Mr.SunnyZ was added recently when designing this web site. The third version has a maple leaf texture.
Upon completion of this design, I can proudly declare: this is MY logo. It is simple, concise, unique, original and memorable, yet it is sophisticated, meaningful and playful.
I appreciate your patience reading this long story (please forgive my writing skill). I would REALLY love to know your thoughts.
Sunny Zheng (Chinese: 郑鸽农), aka MrSunnyZ, is a Canadian professional web designer and graphic artist, with 10+ years experience in web/graphic/print/logo design and creative problem solving. Sunny is currently seeking freelance work, until he finds a full time position that can fully utilize his skills, experience and creativity, and appreciate his versatility, productivity and work ethic.
Having a background in both architectural and structural design, trained in advanced internet development, Sunny has a fully balanced left brain and right brain. He enjoys designing web sites and creating all sorts of materials for sales and marketing teams. He also enjoys hand-coding standard-compliant web pages including the one you are visiting (with valid XHTML and CSS).
10/07/2011 - Got words from the organizer of the iheartlogos competition that my "Cancer Therapies Foundation" logo is a winner and will be published in the season two book.
09/22/2011 - My "Cancer Therapies Foundation" logo is a winner of the Wolda '10 (professional), the first and only awards scheme in design history to be endorsed by more than 100 international and national design associations and schools.
05/16/2010 - My site is added to CoolHomepages.com as "an example of remarkable web site design" as they say. CoolHomepages.com is the oldest and largest "Best Web Site Designs" gallery online.
03/31/2010 - My "Cancer Therapies Foundation" logo is one of six shortlisted for Identity: Best of the Best 2010 International Contest, in Category L7 - Logo (non-commerce organization). Other shortlisted designers/agencies in the same category include Lippincott and Jeff Fisher LogoMotives.
11/15/2009 - The logo "7" is featured on Logo Gala. This is the 2nd time the site featureds my logo.
10/13/2009 - The "Cancer Therapies Foundation" logo is featured on 20 Best Inspiring Logos on Powerusers blog.
10/04/2009 - My "Cancer Therapies Foundation" logo is chosen as winner of Logo Of The Day Award.
08/25/2009 - My logo "7" is chosen as winner of Logo Of The Day Award.
08/24/2009 - My logo "Corporate Edge" gets featured on LogoGala.com, a logo gallery for inspiration.
06/11/2009 - MrSunnyZ.com gets featured on Creative Opera, a blog for designers to find advice and inspiration. The post "Showcase: One-page Websites with a Smooth Scroll" features a number of creative one-page websites.
Got something to say about this web site (good or bad), want to hire MrSunnyZ, or simply just want to say hello? No problem, simply use the form below or send email to MrSunnyZ at gmail dot com, and you should hear back from him soon.