Since I earned my undergrad degree in Business Management, I got very excited when I saw Michael Glasgow teaching a class on logo design at National Seminar. Brand identity and logo design is an idea that is only starting to gain traction in the handbell world as more and more groups are branching out from what a “traditional” handbell ensemble is suppose to be. With an effective logo, you can communicate to potential fans what your group does and keep you loyal fans coming back every time they see it. Here are my thoughts about designing a logo. Along the way I will also show you how I designed my group’s logo to give you an idea of what the process looks like.
What Makes Your Group Unique?
Start by making a list of what makes your group unique. This can be done as an ensemble during your warm up, or as a break during a long rehearsal. Also consider what your group wants to become in the future while brainstorming. Some questions to consider can be:
- Are you a church/community/school group?
- Who is your audience? Older or Younger? Male or Female? Classical music fans or pop music fans? Other musicians?
- Are your concerts formal or informal?
- Do you wear polos, concert black, or tuxes when you perform?
- Is you music secular or non-secular? Pop or classical? Originals for bells or covers of other artists?
- Do you do other things besides perform, like educational outreach?
- How do audiences describe your concerts? Entertaining, amazing, flashy, funny, bizarre, unbelievable, beautiful, graceful?
- Where is your group from? What is iconic about where you are from?
I settled on “A professional community ensemble who don’t take themselves too seriously” as the description of our group that I would base our logo on.
Brainstorm How To Represent Those Ideas
Doodle ideas you can use to represent those words above, considering both fonts and images. For fonts, think of how classy you want your group’s image to be. If you want to be a formal, classical performing group you will probably want to go with some sort of fancy script or serif font (serifs being those little lines at the ends of letters). If you want to be more edgy or modern, look at a sans-serif font or something more scribbled. I would recommended sketching what you want your name to look like first and then matching it to a font, rather than just aimlessly scrolling through fonts. For images, simplicity is the key. The obvious choice for an image is a bell, but is there other things you can use to represent your group. Maybe a collection of instruments if you perform with more than just bells or an image that represents where your group is from can be used. Check out this collection of handbell related logos and pay attention to the different combinations of fonts and images used to describe each group or event.
For Tintab’s logo, I knew I wanted the bell to be part of the lettering in our name. For a while I had an idea where the bell would be a script “t” with the hand guard being the cross on the “t”, but then I stumbled across the idea of using the handle for the body of an “i” while doodling. I wanted our group to be classy without being elegant, so I chose a font that has serifs but also a playful feeling.
Keep It Simple And Useful
A logo is only effective if it gets used all the time, so making a logo simple and easy to use is important. Once you get some initial sketches of a logo, see how much of the sketch you can take away and retain the original purpose of the logo. Notice how most of the logos above that involve bells only use a small portion of a bell, and yet we all know what they stand for. You also want to make a logo that works well when used in any situation. Take the logo you design and stretch it, recolor it, and break it apart to see if it still works. To the right you can see some of the variations of the Tintab logo I created so that we can use it in any situation.
Something else to consider is how to actually build your logo within the computer. Adobe Illustrator is your best tool for creating logos, but if you don’t have access to that Gimp (a free version of Photoshop) or Microsoft Publisher will do. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube to show you how to create images in any of those program.
The file format you save your logo in is also very important. I would recommend by default saving your logo in a .png file. This preserves the invisible background on your logo so that you don’t have an annoying white box around your image, and it is useful in both web and print. If you are working with outside companies, like a printer or embroider, be sure to ask them what file formats they want so that you can be sure that your image transfers correctly.
Now That You Have A Logo, Use It!
Once you go through the effort of creating a logo, use it everywhere. Your website, Facebook, twitter, and YouTube page should all have the same logo. Put it on every flier, program, CD, and business card you create. Wear it on your shirts and place stickers of it on you binders. Every time someone sees something from your group, it should have a logo. It may seem a bit over board at first, but over time that logo will grow on people and become the face of your group.
Creating a logo for your ensemble is not a quick or easy task. It took me months of trial and error and Illustrator Tutorials to create our logo. But if you put in the time and really think about it, the results will be noticeable. With an effective logo, ringers will have a greater sense of pride in their ensemble and the entire ensemble will look and feel more professional.
If you want more information to get started, here is a great tutorial for logo design:
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about logo design.
Now go out and create amazing logos for all the world to see!