Created by Bristol based software agency, Sparkol required a new visual identity for the launch of their new animation app, VideoScribe. In this case study we explain our creative approach behind the logo redesign.
VideoScribe is a professional animation app that allows users to create whiteboard-style animations in a fun and engaging way. Although their original brand mark was only a year old, Sparkol decided it needed modernising.
The brief was to create a more mature brand mark and identity. The new mark needed to feel “grown up, confident and professional”. It was our job to create a brand mark that retained an element of playfulness, whilst staying true to the products brand values.
Below are the steps we took to create the final brand mark.
Research forms the basis of any design brief and it’s the cornerstone to any successful project. We spend a lot of time during the initial stages trying to get inside the mind of the client. We ask questions and research into the product and the marketplace it’s launching into. As we develop a better understanding of the product we begin to build up a visual moodboard (usually on Pinterest) which we can use as a point of discussion with the client. This initial research stage is all about learning as much as we can from the client and creating a document we can easily refer back to throughout the process.
The initial concept stage always starts with pencil and paper. There is no wrong or right way to start the creative process and some prefer to jump straight onto a Mac, but we feel that our ideas flow best and more freely through a pencil rather than a mouse.
At this stage our working methodology is ‘anything goes’ and we try to explore and exhaust as many ideas and different avenues as possible. We try to keep five or six choice words pinned up on the walls whilst we work in order to stick within certain parameters. In this case we were working with the key words “playfulness”, “visual”, “creative”, “friendly” and “innovative”. After we’d filled a few sheets of A3 paper, we sat down as a group and critiqued the concepts.
After selecting four concepts to develop further, we took these sketches into Adobe Illustrator and created a series of icons based around each concept. Once these had been completed and we were happy with the results, we presented a series of options in black and white to the client (we try to avoid colour at early stages of the design process as it can distract people from the concept).
“It also looks like there is the possibility of making a play button that is a ‘V’. Logo = play button = first letter of product, could be awesome.”
Sparkol’s feedback was great, not just because it was positive but because of their ability to really dissect and understand the concepts. The two icons they selected felt playful, simple, and there was a lot of scope to develop the themes further. Each had it’s own connotations, the first playing on the idea of a play button and the second on communication using abstract speech bubbles.
Now we had a couple of different directions which the client was happy with, we began to develop and test both concepts. For the first option, we worked with the triangular play symbol and, using the negative space to the left we built in the “V” from VideoScribe. We also tried numerous different approaches for the second option, exhausting as many possibilities as we could.
At our next meeting with Sparkol, we put forward our development work, discussed the rationale behind the designs and gave our opinions on which we thought were working best. We always find that it really helps talking through designs and ideas with our clients, ensuring nothing gets misinterpreted or lost in translation.
Now that a final icon design had been approved, it was time to fine tune it. At this stage, we revisited the brief to check whether there was any specific requirements for the icon. In this case, the brief specified that the icon needed to be scaled from 16x16px up to 1600x1600px.
In this instance, the two main elements we needed to execute perfectly were the relationship between the visible ‘V’ in the negative space and the ‘play’ symbol. For the icon to work, the balance had to be just right.
Now the icon had been finalised and signed off, we began to explore the accompanying logotype. It was important that both the icon and logotype worked together but also separately so that Sparkol could be flexible with it’s application. Due to the simplicity of the icon, our immediate thoughts were to pair it with a sans serif font that had character, smooth lines and interesting negative spaces.
After sending our initial type choices to the client, they decided they preferred Effra. Sparkol saw the same positive values as we did within the Effra typeface. The use of mixed caps was well balanced and the uppercase ‘V’ and ‘S’ didn’t over power the lowercase letters. The variation of the letter heights added a fluidity to the logotype and the soft shapes of the characters meant there was plenty of scope for customisation.
“Love it! We’re excited to see how you develop Effra further.”
“As a team we’re divided about weight; some like it as it is, some want to see it a touch heavier (but not as heavy as Gotham medium before). But we’re agreed that it’s the right one.”
Not happy with using Effra on it’s own, we decided to make some adjustments and create a custom logotype for the VideoScribe mark. The original qualities of a well balanced, well proportioned typeface would remain the same, it was more cosmetic adjustments that were made in order to help with the flow of the logotype. The most dramatic changes were to the bowl and counter of both the ‘d’ and ‘b’ as well as significantly changing the apex of the ‘V’. The weight of the finalised logotype was also carefully scrutinised, as we explored a number of different font-weights.
When bringing the icon and typelogo together, it’s important to always consider the balance of the final mark. We didn’t want the icon to become overbearing when situated alongside the type and at the same time, we didn’t want the type to be too prominent. We tried a number of different approaches to composition and found that having the icon point towards the logotype felt most natural and helped lead the eye in from the left.
After this was agreed upon with Sparkol, we spent some time modifying the spacing between the icon and logotype. It was important that the icon felt part of the overall mark and not floating off to the left. Using the width of the ‘V’ helped us anchor the icon into position perfectly, creating a well balanced and legible identity.
We started the colour process with a wide selection of colour options, which we then broke down into smaller selections. The decision was made to pursue a blue that was strong enough to shake any corporate connotations.
“The blue is great, and it works having the smaller triangle lighter. It also still looks unique against other corporate blues.”
It become apparent from the feedback from Sparkol that a primary colour was the best option for Videoscribe. With many minor adjustments and a slight injection of green, we created a blue that was slightly unique to VideoScribe.
Although the transformation from the original logo is quite dramatic, we still managed to retain some of the key values of playfulness and professionalism as outlined within the original brief.
The final outcome is a brand mark that will help Sparkol move VideoScribe forward into new markets and attract new business. The original objectives of the brief to create a more mature, professional brand mark were also backed up by positive user feedback, with many commenting on the “professionalism” and the “trustworthy image” it promotes.
Having a close working relationship with Sparkol, ensured that we were able to deliver a final output which accurately meet their requirements, whilst working within the short timeframes available.
“Fiasco were anything but. The brands they created for Sparkol stand alone brilliantly yet work together as a family. They dared to go for simplicity and we couldn’t be more pleased with the result. The team worked miraculously fast and communicated better at every stage of the process than any other agency I’ve worked with. We’ve found our go-to branding agency in the UK”
—Gabriel Smy, Marketing Manager at Sparkol