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.
My initial thoughts on a guitars as a product draw me to the user; who is it that is playing guitar and what common themes and true stereotypes are present.
As a guitarist myself, I looked at the things I value most in a guitar and found a few key points.
The wonder of a machine that is used to create audio art; music in a very physical way. The electric guitar is a subtle machine; an elaborate wooden device that is a beautiful, fetishised interaction of physical force (in the playing) and engineering development (in the pickup and development of sound manipulation and the seemingly endless possibilities artistically).
This common theme with guitars is almost a slogan: “You get what you pay for“. Increasing price does seem to increase quality and guitarists truly treasure their instruments. For this reason this body of wood commands an immense value that translates from money into emotional worth. Because we pay large amounts for something we want that uniquely fits out style, we aim to care for it and grow to love our instrument; such is the way with many other
To completely contradict my previous point, many guitarists welcome knocks, scratches and breaks to the instrument as we believe it creates personality and reminds us of memories of that personal inter-relationsip with your instrument. (see Hendrix setting his guitar on fire and The Clash’s London Calling artwork/guitar smashing culture/rock’n’roll). The guitar industry is aware of this and has monopolised on it; brand leaders Fender now create brand new guitars with a “relic” finish; battering the top layer of paint on a guitar to create a faux-personality. Whilst opinions are divided on whether this is a good thing or not, there’s no denying that provenance and value of an item can be taken in many different ways, and guitar companies should be mindful of this.
Semiotics in relation to this?
Good brands are deep rooted in 4 things.
Concept can solidify and create a rich company that commands trust in potential and existing consumers or clients and even employees. A solid, concept driven brand can provide faith in the company and even self perpetuate the other 3 essential qualities (Inspiring the confidence to be more imaginative. Having the faith to work hard and create quality within the brand. Allowing the survival of a company allowing it longevity to grow, evolve and expand.)
For example, the Pepsi logo, simple in its appearance apparently “represents magical secrets such as the earth’s magnetic field, feng shui, Pythagoras geodynamics, the theory of relativity, and the golden ratio.” (http://gnosticwarrior.com/pepsi-logo.html). This concept driven approach has apparently lead to a rise in appeal and satisfaction.
An imaginative brand can set aside itself from the rabble. Few things are worse than a company that is uninspired and dull. Imagination can transform an every day company into an exciting and appealing way to draw in new customers/clients etc.
Quality is often hard to control from a designer’s point of view, but is more something to stride towards by creating a LASTING brand that survives a difficult market. A LASTING brand can be more successful and have less pressure to dilute quality and compromise itself.
This links into growth. A company’s job is to provide a service. The next step is to evolve and improve what it is capable of doing.
Cymatics are the visual representation of music. This interests me greatly in helping to build a brand for a guitar as this is almost the same concept as trying to sell a guitar. Much like a scent being difficult to advertise without smell, advertising a guitar company is hard to do visually without sound. So to create an impacting and dynamic corporate identity, cymatics may be an innovative way to translate this grey area to potential customers.
These graphical representations are created by analysing the sound waves of a piano. They create quite beautiful and unique snowflake-like patterns that remind us of the individuality of music.
- Loris Cecchini (Cymatic sculptures)
Loris Cecchini uses inspiration from these cymatic graphic representations of sound to create sculptures that visually and tangibly create the sensation of sound; silently.
These sculptures build on the ideas that music is felt, not just heard. Some of the most popular commercial musicians achieve their legitimate success through real, emotive expression, aware of this principle that music is more than just sound waves; how we perceive the waves, how they are communicated, the way in which the artist plays are all just as, if not more, important than the notes that are being played. All music is multi sensory and these sculptures represent the visual side of that.
I hope to bring in this dynamic and beautiful concept into my brand, and maybe even bring it through into the products of the brand to keep it all consistent. Perhaps even including a cymatic design within the logo or even on the guitar’s body (within the door grain/paintwork flame) could work to create a relatable consistency.
- mechanical pysicality
- Purpose built for user: Or accompanying, suggesting
- MACHINE FETISHISATION
- CYMATICS – visualisation of sound
- Synthenasia – kandinsky
- Loris Cecchini (Cymatic sculpture)
- Fetishised guitarist instruments: On flipside – destruction (Hendrix/Clash)
- Engineering/detail/provenance(worth) – about the story