UK registered charity the CLLSA (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia Support Association) hired Reedsmore to refresh their existing logo and to create accompanying brand guidelines.
The existing CLLSA logo had been created as a rasterised image, rather than a vector file. A rasterised image is made up of pixels, just like a digital photograph, whereas a vector image is made up of curves and shapes.
The key difference between these images is the way they behave when they are enlarged. As a rasterised image increases in size, it loses definition, either becoming increasingly soft or revealing the individual pixels as they are magnified.
However, the curves and shapes which make up a vector image retain the same sharpness when they are enlarged. This makes vector images vastly preferable for logos because they can be enlarged to any size without losing definition.
As raster images are much easier to create, it’s not uncommon for startups to use them for logos at first, as they can be easily created in free software and quickly deployed online. But as the business grows and the logo needs to be used elsewhere – in print, on signage and out-of-home advertising for example – then the raster image is no longer sufficient.
The CLLSA had outgrown its existing logo’s capabilities. However, the charity’s committee were broadly happy with the look and feel of the logo and wanted to avoid the expense of changing or discarding all their existing promotional material, so they didn’t want to carry out a major rebrand at this stage.
The goal of the project was to turn the existing logo into a universally adaptable graphic which could be enlarged and reproduced at any size. To ensure the brand would be a brand (and not just a logo) it must be able to be applied consistently across all channels in future. So we would also identify and document key brand assets, including an appropriate font and a simplified colour palette.
While the client had requested that we retained key design aspects including the purple, the sans-serif font and the background image of cells on a microscope slide, the incumbent logo carried with it a number of fundamental design problems.
Primarily, the image of the cells in the background appeared to be a photograph. Even if the original high-resolution image had been available, or if that image was replaced by another similar image, this would still limit the logo to being enlarged to a maximum size.
Although the photograph had apparently been coloured with a purple filter, reducing the overall number of colours, there were still a very large number of shades of purple in the image. This made the logo look grubby and indistinct and would likely cause potential future issues with accurate reproduction. Put simply, it didn’t look good.
Furthermore, the high contrast between the dark and light sections of the background image meant that the lighter sections swallowed up the sections of white text which lay over them, reducing the legibility and overall impact of the logo.
The white outline on the original logo was intended to separate it from any non-white background. But when applied to a white background (which happens very often for any logo) the white outline vanishes, slimming down the remaining logo and changing its look and feel considerably, interfering with the consistency of the brand.
The client had previously sidestepped these issues by creating several ad-hoc designs around the existing logo. But once again, this was at the expense of consistency, meaning that there were several variants of the logo appearing across various media at any one time. This patch worked for most online applications, but larger printed materials from brochures to banners were now required, and there was no way to use the existing logo.
Contact with the original designer had been lost and brand guidelines had not been previously documented. Despite spending some time trying, we were unable to accurately identify the font used in the original logo. Rather than simply find the closest available match, we took the opportunity to review the font and selected an appropriate alternative. We selected Montserrat Bold, a pleasantly rounded font which carries both the strength and the warmth that the brand needs to convey.
We selected the colour palette by selecting a set of four key colours (plus white) from the existing logo. These would give us the range of colours we needed to reproduce the look of the cells, while keeping the colour palette as simple as possible.
We then recreated the cells as vectors, taking care to retain the natural, random layout of those in the photograph used in the original logo. The cells, their outer walls and the background were then coloured using the colours selected from the palette we had selected.
To add depth to the logo, we added a gaussian blur effect to the cells, allowing the crisp lines of the text to stand out clearly in the foreground. This was all them mounted on a purple background, with a white border separating the cells from the outer frame. The mid-purple outer frame means that the logo will stand out comfortably on any dark or light backround: In fact, the only colour it won’t appear well against is itself, but that is unavoidable.
The overall dimensions of the logo were also adjusted slightly from the original for a tidier, more visually pleasing aspect ratio of 5:2. This also has the benefit of simplifying any size calculations, making it less likely that anyone will be tempted to squash or stretch the logo to fit a given space. (Though misuse and poor practice never be fully safeguarded against.)
Finally, after completing work on the logo and getting the sign-off from the client, we created a brand guidelines document with everything that a designer should need to use the logo and its design elements for any application.
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