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Let's Talk About Logo Inspiration & How to Look

Let’s Talk About… is a series of short publications where complex topics are discussed in an accessible and light-hearted format. Let’s Talk About… is presented as a case study of the ins and outs of the world of design for seasoned experts and newcomers alike, including those who may be undergoing the research process before engaging with an agency for future projects. With this in mind, we hope you enjoy this series of publications as much as we’ve enjoyed producing it.

Read more about this series on:

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Not too long ago, we talked about creating a logo and brand identity. Today, we’re expanding on that subject by exploring how to look abstractly. Let’s quickly go over some key take-away points from the previous articles. For a logo to be good it needs to be unique, and it must be appropriate.

When thinking about concepts for a new logo, it would be easy to just go with something that’s literal and easy to understand. The problem with doing this is, just like you could think of this, anyone could do so too. This creates a challenge where there may be multiple brands using the same concept, creating confusion for consumers, and possibly infringing on another brand’s trademarked ideas.

Let’s create a new brand. This time it will be a sushi restaurant that intends to attract a younger audience. For the name in this example, we’re going to use the name “Horo”.

A horo was a type of cloak used by distinguished members of the samurai class in feudal Japan. Its purpose was to protect the wearer from arrows shot from behind and the sides as the wearer rode a horse through the battlefield. It was also used to distinguish the wearer as a messenger or a very important person within the samurai class.

We’re using the name “Horo” to distinguish this hypothetical restaurant from others as a very important and prominent restaurant in the field, making an interesting connection between a cloak and the piece of fish carefully placed over the rice in a nigiri sushi.

Now, a quick study of what most restaurants in this category sport for their logo would show a certain pattern. Most use the name of the restaurant written in Japanese (Kanji, etc.) as a logomark, others use a wordmark stylized after stylized typography that gives it an Asian look, or a combination of both. The color red is also very prominent. Here are some examples of local restaurants:

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To break out of this pattern, we’re going to look at this abstractly. What are some elements that we could explore? Sushi, being a product predominantly from the sea, could be associated with water. Specifically, the glistening patterns on the ocean floor created by the light as it makes its way through the waves.

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Going deeper into this, let’s explore the intrinsic elements of sushi, its preparation. When a chunk of fish is being prepped for sushi, many cuts are made to ensure the most attractive piece of fish is used for the sushi. These cuts often leave blocks of fish that are uneven and asymmetrical. These, one could say, are imperfectly perfect.

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Looking at these images, there are certain things that stand out. The quality of the fish is determined by, out of many things, the marbling of the flesh. This marbling is what brings out the flavor, much like the marbling in an exquisite filet mignon. The uneven shapes of the cut pieces of fish are another element that stands out.

Did you know? The fish is cut unevenly in order to remove the gray parts of flesh. These parts are perfectly edible but guests at restaurants tend to think these don’t look appetizing.

Could light in the sea floor, marbling, and uneven shapes have something in common? Could we cook these different concepts together to create a logo? Keeping in mind that the beauty of sushi is its simplicity and minimalism, we present:

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As it turns out, we can combine these abstract ideas to create a delicious sea-faring logo that is unique and stands out from others.

To create the Horo brand, we created a series of hand-drawn shapes and letters, where each element is distinctly asymmetrical and different from other similar elements. See for example, both letter o's are different. The movement of the light in the sea floor and the marbling in a delicious piece of salmon or tuna (o-toro) come together to create the logomark. This combination of elements create an abstraction of both. Not quite one of the two, but a pairing of both.

Color is a very important aspect of every brand. Earlier we mentioned that most restaurants in this industry use red, or other warm vibrant colors. Breaking off from the norm for the sake of doing things differently is not necessarily a good thing, but with careful consideration and a thorough thought process behind it, breaking the "rules" can be a very smart thing to do. For this reason, we've chosen a palette of colors that combines shades of blues that are very soft and gentle, keeping in mind this hypothetical restaurant is trying to target a young hip audience. To spice up this palette, we've added some darker and tan colors.

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In conclusion, looking through a lens of abstraction can bring a fresh perspective to your brand that is sure to offer new ideas that others may not have explored. This will help your brand stand out by having an unique differentiator, easily highlighting it from other brands.

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