I began my brainstorm of fictional guitar manufacturer Reynold by looking at my options. Guitars come in thousands of different styles, colours, sizes and designs for thousands of different kinds of people of different abilities, from beginner through to professional. I had to choose an appropriate style and demographic to create a consistent and appropriate corporate identity for the fictional company.
Using my existing knowledge of guitar companies I mapped out the first things that came to mind and explored all the immediate qualities associated with each kind of style.
The first style choice that came to mind was acoustic vs. electric. Acoustic guitars bring up imagery of wood grains and softer sounds, and most acoustic brands such as Martin and
However there is no reason these factors can’t intertwine. A smooth electric guitar or an intense and dark acoustic guitar brand are not far removed from the realms of imagination.
Looking at Gibson and Fender: Typographic – Handwritten – PROVENANCE of a handcrafted feel. FLOW – cymatic flow?
- Actual Logo Shizz
- Scans & first attempts
- Wood – PRS Reclaimed Wood
- Modern, but old/Aged/Faded/But still solid and bold
I scanned in an initial sketch and attempted to use the smooth tool on Illustrator to turn it into a more comprehensive logo. It was clear I needed a bolder image with much more to work with.
I created some larger sketches and scanned in a bolder one.
This provided me more to work with and a clearer idea of the direction I wanted to take the logo in. Bold, and curvy with provenance. The flick on the ‘R’ was inspired by scratch plates on guitars and the general feel of guitars I have played and owned.
However the “spaghetti-like” and random feel of the “eynold” was clearly not going to translate to a corporate setting, so I set about experimenting with a few other established typefaces, designed to look orderly but handwritten.
After experimenting with some I settled on one that looked similar to my own but with more order (SignPainter font)
Upon attempting to apply my design to some relevant images, I noticed as I made my image smaller, the thin quality of SignPainter font was causing the logo to become illegible and slightly unbalanced in relation to the hand drawn “R”.
The implication of “guitars” into the “R” swish also didn’t appear to suit the curved nature of the typefaces used.z
I experimented with the Baskervilled Bold Italic font (bringing the kerning back to -100 to bring the lettering together to give that “signature” handwritten quality) and the boldness appeared to match. I spent some time cleaning up the left hand side of the “R” and decided to include a further flick up into the body of the “R” to make in more unique and recognisable.
The harsh black I had been using as default with Adobe Illustrator had been contrasting with background images far too much, and for the “smooth” feel I wanted to go with for the guitars in my fictional range so, I decided to soften the black, adopting #333333 as my base “soft black” tone.
After experiencing with some grey mid-tones and a golden woody/colour, and trying out their relationship with each other, I reached some conclusions. The gradient approach looked too metallic for a company focussed on the provenance of the woods, and appeared to strike up imagery of car companies, rather than guitar companies; thus visually communicating the wrong idea to potential customers/onlookers.
I edited my “white” tone in a similar way as I did with my “black tone” and darkened it slightly, to make it creamier, smoother and softer against background images/other brand approved colours.
Next I had to decide on some visual themes, and stumbled across a beautiful reclaimed wood example that was dirty, yet smooth. I tried overlaying a sans serif font to contrast my heavily seriffed Baskerville typeface in the Reynold logo.
My interest in reclaimed wood in guitars came from a recent, limited run of guitars from PRS (Paul Reed Smith) who had created a small range of reclaimed Brazilian wood guitars that I was incredibly drawn to. They had the provenance and the story that reliced guitars from Fender aim to create, but without faking it. All the dents and imperfections and inconsistencies within the wood contained stories, value and truth.
I wasted little time in applying my corporate marque to these guitars in an attempt to accurately rebrand them. It was clear my logo was going to have to pass through one of the machine heads if it was going to fit on without being made too small and irrelevant.
I needed to find a way to execute this compromise, but still create an awe-inspiring sense of value and provenance. I tidied up the headstock, clearing it of its previous Paul Reed Smith logo and had a look to see what could be done.
I attempted to make the logo come out of the headstock, to create a 3D effect, but this just created more obstruction and crowding with the overlapped headstock.
In reversing this failed experiment, I mistakenly created an inner shadow and the product was an engraved look. Suddenly the concept took shape in my head and I decided to create an engraved/reclaimed wood approach. I made a few alterations to the size and angle and my digitally engraved headstock was finished.
I applied the same process – content aware/patch stamping the original logo away and replacing with my “multiply” overlay and inner shadow approach – to the other guitar in the range. The Vela (above) and the CE24 (below) would become my two guitar mock-up examples.
I returned to my corporate marque and continued to experiment with colours and typefaces. The Futura Medium font provided a nice sans serif contrast to my Baskerville typeface logo. I was also able to place my soft black colour as a background to overlay actual black backgrounds, creating a standout label border.
Dropping my logo into illustrator over one of my chosen guitars, I saw I could implement my idea of engraving the corporate marque into the guitar by creating an original and brand pushing concept, by making the brand part of the guitar’s body, rather than just slapped onto the headstock.
The process was simple on photoshop, I added the white Reynold eps logo onto one of the guitar images, turned the layer type to “multiply” to blend it with the body’s wood, and then added an inner shadow, adjusting the angle and depth accordingly for a shallow, but effective and noticeable engraving.
I replicated this process on as many promo shots of the two guitars as I could, to create a sense that these guitars were real and the brand has a real sense of solidity.
I then began applying my corporate marque onto merchandise to get an idea for the blank space needed to surround the logo to give it its full impact.
I was inspired by Fender’s “button” white on red logo to create a bold isolation zone for my brand.
Using my soft white on Black and creating a central channel around the “eynold” (allowing the swooping R to cascade below the centre point) I created the button tab logo.
I achieved this by referencing the height of “e” as my x value and defining the blank space around it in relation to multiples of this.
As I had left more space above the marque, I decided to further accentuate this, so as not to make it look accidental. I created the “label” marque as an extension to the button, to be used as headings and marking the tops of promotional content (as well as merchandise.
Again, I used all relative sizes so as to accentuate the consistency of the brand.
I started using these labels to top some brochure mockups, alongside relevant photography and digital engraving techniques on woodgrain, also incorporating my guitar mock-ups, to begin to understand how best to present the brand.
The wooden background set the tone for the Reclaimed Wood theme I wanted to bring across, so using a full image with the logo engraved presented a solid and visually pleasing cover to a brochure. I used a white bar across a black title box to vaguely reference the frets of a guitar, but in a slightly abstract way, whilst my serif/sans serif font mix worked well as a title/subtitle application. This simple layout could easily be applied in many different ways, so I tried out a few leaflets in a similar style, in different dimensions to show how easily transferable the design is.
Strong central images that are relevant to the content seemed an acceptable way to lay these different ranges out and to keep the provenance of the guitars, without crowding and cluttering. The label hangs at the top as a reminder of the brand, and “The Reynold Story” subtitle implies a range of leaflets on different topics, whilst creating a type of legacy that a lot of guitarists look for when choosing what to buy.
I wanted to transfer these layout styles into my Corporate Brand Manual, so I adopted the lower white strip and hanging Reynold label in the top corner (with an offset).
Using the reclaimed wood as a familiar margin for potential overlay of design, I created an offset grid system to give the manual a smooth, modern feel.
I adopted most of the text throughout the manual from either Gibson’s Graphic Standard Style guide (http://archive.gibson.com/press/logos2004/graphicsguide.pdf)
and Fender’s Brand guide
Changing the specifications (and name) to suit my own company and creating an accomplished, credible brand identity.
From then on all I had to do was put these components together and make the manual coherent and applicable to itself; using the instructions for use of the brand to display said instructions.
I created a white background layout to contrast the right hand side of the double page spread, using a black bar to complete the negative mirror. Not using a margin on this page gave me more space for images whilst keeping my offset type layout.
I then followed this layout and edited my content accordingly to create a brand consisted corporate brand manual, instructing how to apply my corporate marque/typefaces/colours in any given situation.