According to Wikipedia "A fictional brand is a non-existing brand used in artistic or entertainment productions — paintings, books, comics, movies, TV serials, etc. The fictional brand may be designed to imitate a real corporate brand, satirize a real corporate brand, or differentiate itself from real corporate brands." And you may have seen instances of such a fictional brand in various media. But we are not talking about such a brand today. Today, we are going to take a look at how to create what logo designers fondly or grudgingly [in most cases] call "fake brands" or "fake logos"
Fake brands are an integral part of every brand identity developer’s learning curve. From flexing your creative muscles in different softwares trying to ascertain your capabilities and style to showcasing them in your portfolios to score that first job or that elusive first client, fake brands have been a vital part of the world of aspiring logo designers. Whether an assignment at college or a journey of discovering and exercising your design strengths, fake brands cannot be ignored. If approached in a right manner, they can help mold your graphic style or enable you to break free from your own design stereotype to create something truly different and amazing.
Like every design process, the art of creating a fictional brand or logo is simply made up of two parts, the requirement and the solution. But when there is no client and no company, where do you begin? What I am going to outline is a process I use. It may not be your process and it most definitely isn’t the perfect one, but it is methodical and thorough, the way any good design process should be.
1. ASSIGN A CLIENT.
In this case, I assign myself as the client, because I am hard to please when I design for myself, as is every other designer out there. What better client to have than yourself? You will definitely keep yourself in check and not let your "designer" not give you 100%.
2. PICK A BUSINESS AND DEVELOP A VISION. THEN RESEARCH.
I have been entertaining the idea of launching my very own Spa & Wellness Center [not really, this is the "Client" in me getting into character]. I want a strong feminine name for my business that would reflect inner beauty while sounding modern in a mythical way. So I start researching names online at first and later in "Sanskrit Names", a book I pull off my shelf of dictionaries, design compendiums and other literary gems. I quite like the name "Vedika". It means Consciousness or Restoring Knowledge. I also realize that although not very common, it is used by several other businesses and is the first name of many people. This is a great thing for the exercise I am doing, because it means I will have to work harder to ensure I am not infringing on someone’s identity or business. I google "Vedika Spa" and find several instances of a global company dealing in Ayurvedics, a software company and consultants. I then head to a domain registrar and discover to my glee that vedikaspa.com is still available. [Remember this is irrelevant while designing for a "real" client as most clients usually have a working domain and business presence, but when you are creating a fictional brand, it is a good idea to spend some time thinking of all the nuances of the business as if it was real. Hence trying to come up with a working url]. So I finalize my business name and decide it will be "Vedika" with the flexibility of having it as "Vedika Spa" on some of my stationery and paperwork. I decide that it will be a Spa & Wellness Center providing specially formulated relaxation and healing experiences using the best natural, organic and earthy ingredients and products. It will cater to mid-high range income groups, mothers and young and older career women. It will offer an escape from the daily grind to these women and will become a sanctuary for them to harness their core strength and beauty. Defining your business model and developing a vision, a mission statement in such a manner gives you a better insight into the design when you actually start creating it.
3. BRING IN THE DESIGNER
Now I switch to designer mode. My "Client" has explained their vision to me and what they want their brand to symbolize. I go over the usual questions that I do with my "real" clients and manage to get all I need in terms of starting the design process. My client has one special request though. They want the logo mark to be versatile enough to be able to create a 3D metal structure to be displayed in their spa.
4. THE DESIGN PROCESS
The 2-3 hours I spent researching the name and building the vision in my head has enabled me to zero in on exactly what I want to do in terms of design. Instead of sketching out some concepts like I usually do at the start of a design process, I go straight to Illustrator, activate the grid and start creating custom "V" shapes. After settling on one I think is perfect for the task on hand, I start the finessing process for it, playing with colors and the finer curves.
5. THE MARK
The “V” transcends into two graceful figures, arched in abandon and relaxation. The two ends of the “V” also form two open spouts of a vestibule from which water could flow, earthy elements that depict zen and peace. The spout is very vital to this design because of the client’s vision of wanting a 3D structure in their spa. I take their vision a little bit further where the magnificient 3D centerpiece gleaming in their waiting area will have water gently cascading from the ceiling into the two open spouts from where it will spill gently onto a large earthenware pond resplendent with floating lotus, lilypads and koi fish. The muted olive green color for the "fake" logo looks extremely elegant and organic and works perfectly embroidered on fluffy white towels or on matt black cards gilded with gold.
I wanted the mark to be graceful, genderless and strong yet delicate at the same time. Trying to achieve these contrasts and opposite spectrums was a thoroughly enjoyable, fine process. Finally I use Adobe Caslon Pro for the lettering after experimenting with a few classic, upscale looking types and finish off with the usual black and white versions of the design. This is a very important part of the process, especially when you are not designing for a real client. Don’t slack off and admire the beautiful logo you just created. Always check to see how it stands out on light and dark backgrounds.
6. THE APPROVAL
Very different from a usual "client" approval process where you present them with the concepts, sketches or mock-ups and they come back to you with their feedback. When you are the "Client" for an exercise such as this one, the design and approval process become truly seamless and you go back and forth in your mind like someone with a split personality "This is what it symbolizes .." "Erm .. I like it, but can it be a little more graceful somehow". When I do "fake" logos, some take me a few hours and some annoy me for weeks, because I can’t stop thinking about the solution till I reach what I deem as the perfect solution in my head.
7. THE EXTRAS
When I design logos for "real" clients, I am not usually required to do product mock-ups unless it is a new product launch as well and they has asked me to do the product design which they need to present to someone else. But for every "fake" or "fictional" brand I design, I try to do a complete product mock-up because sometimes integrating a well-designed logo in a real environment becomes quite a challenge and that is when you know that your well designed logo could have been designed better. Of course all logos are different and have specific needs, like some are only for the internet, some meant to be blown up on billboards, some meant for printing on t-shirts and smaller objects like special edition pens. The client always tells you what the logo is intended for, but when you design a fake logo, you have to envision where your logo is going to be used as well. After all you are the "client" here.
In case of the fictional brand "Vedika", I design a little piece of stationery and have the logo mock-embroidered on some white towels. And all done. A fruitful exercise in designing a fake logo, concocting a fictional brand is now complete.
What process or methods have you used in developing fake brands? Please leave a comment and share with us.
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