Ways of working: the ‘15-minute logo’

As a Year 1 teaching team, we are always searching for better ways to deliver content to students, in ways that help to develop their intellectual and practical skills.

For the past two years, as part of our new approach to the teaching of branding and identity, we have set students the task of creating a ‘flexible’ brand identity, where a logo system and associated imagery must be able to change and adapt to represent the activities of a fictional company with different operational ‘divisions’.

This process requires students to sketch and then develop a large number of possible logo options, which must be tested by moving them beyond the sketching stage and onto the next stage of development using Adobe Illustrator software.

To give the student groups a flavour of how a design professional might approach this task, we showed them the video ‘Aaron Draplin Takes On a Logo Design Challenge’. His approach, effectively creating a ‘logo in 15 minutes’, was an attempt to demonstrate how a methodical working approach, combined with logical decision-making could quickly produce a large number of viable design routes, all within a single design file.

In essence, Draplin’s approach works like this:

1)  around 2-3 basic logo sketches are used for the ‘challenge’

2)  using an A4 or A3 document ‘artboard’, the basic logos are roughly designed using appropriate formats, fonts and colours

3)  further variants are developed working out from the artboard in all directions

4)  all development stages are retained, so that the decision-making process can be clearly seen and reviewed and so that ideas within logo elements do not have to be subsequently re-drawn

For our students, the approach had several advantages over the traditional method of creating a separate file for each logo route. First, the working method forced them to make rapid, yet informed and directed decisions, based on the design brief.

Second, the expanded artboard provided valuable evidence of each student’s work – the sequencing of ideas generation and the level and depth of investigation. Each student was required to submit a PDF document showing the ‘story’ of their brand identity, from analysis of the brief, research into their company’s operations, right through to logo design and application of the identity on appropriate branded items. Their enthusiastic response to the film resulted in the production of more focused and relevant design responses and a greater number of ideas in less time than would have been achieved through traditional methods.

In the context of teaching an introduction to branding and identity to Year 1 students, Draplin’s ’15-minute logo’ method was an invaluable tool, one that will be utilized again in future years.

Logo design by Thomas Flint.

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