Author: Sacha Harding

Fast logo designs for local businesses

The brief

In the second term, Part 1 students are required to design a website, however, they are given the guidelines and logos in advance. The brief of this job was to design the brand guidelines for a minimum of two local businesses, which will then be used by the Part 1s. The guidelines must include logos (colour, black and white), fonts and colours. The local businesses that can be designed for include: The washbox, Reading garage, Trilogy Reading, The Village Florist and The museum of Berkshire aviation. The brand guidelines must be different to what already exists. The main goal of this real job is to create a high quality and memorable set of logos and guidelines that can be used on screen in both a desktop and mobile environment.

In the initial briefing meeting, the main considerations, final deliverables, and schedule were discussed.

The main considerations when designing the guidelines are that:

  • The logos need to be scalable as they will be used primarily in a mobile environment
  • The logos should be shown in different colour variations including black and white, reversed, and versions that work on both a dark background and light background.
  • The guidelines should use Google fonts so that they can be easily accessed by all students

The final deliverables include:

  1. A minimum of two logos for local businesses, including black and white, reversed and colour
  2. Accompanying brand guidelines including typefaces and colour scheme

As these guidelines were needed in time for the beginning of the Part 1 project, the turnaround was very fast. The first client meeting was on the 7th of January, and the final deliverables were required by the 28th of January. The scheduled allowed for two feedback meetings in-between the initial briefing and final deadline.


Research and ideation

The research process began by identifying three key areas to explore:

  • Research into each local business to learn more about what services or products are offered, in order to create a unique logo concept
  • Research into the audience of each business, so that the logo is representative of this group
  • Search for logos used in mobile environments, to identify which elements make the logos successfully scalable

The research process allowed an insight into the key to making successful logos for mobile applications. This included: avoiding using light strokes, small text, and overcomplicated designs. It also reminded the importance of testing the logos at an appropriate size to ensure that they are sufficiently scalable. Furthermore, it became apparent that the logos should be instantly recognizable, and therefore summarise the services or products offered by the business.

As a result of the research, as well as the fast turnaround, I initially decided to design guidelines for two businesses: The washbox and The village florist. However, after initial submission, I was asked to design a further set of guidelines for Trilogy.


Design development

The businesses that I designed guidelines for are:

  • The village florist, a local florists that creates bespoke bouquets
  • The washbox, a laundrette and dry cleaning service
  • Trilogy Reading, a unisex hair salon

Before designing the logos in Adobe Illustrator, I began by hand-sketching some initial ideas for each business. However, due to the short turnaround, I very quickly moved to work digitally. The village florist creates bespoke hand-made bouquets, and so the concept for this logo was based around a hand-drawn style. Therefore, I scanned in my initial sketches, as well as illustrations found online, and created vectors using the image trace tool. From here, I was able to see which illustration worked best when scaled down to a size appropriate for mobile. For The Washbox logo, the concept was to combine the various services offered to create a clean logo. During the first feedback session, I presented a variety of options for these two businesses and gained guidance on which to pursue further.

Initial concept mockups in Adobe Illustrator
Initial logo mockups

Once making a decision on the final logos, the next stage was to choose appropriate typefaces and colour schemes. The typefaces chosen for The Village Florist, aimed to be sophisticated and delicate, representing the services and products offered by the business. Similarly, the chosen colours had the same aims, as well as avoiding being too powerful and overbearing. The aims for typeface and colour schemes for The Washbox, was to create fresh and clean branding.

As I was asked to design for Trilogy after the initial submission, the turnaround time for these guidelines was even more limited than the previous set. Similarly, there were no dedicated feedback sessions scheduled for these guidelines. Therefore, I began to work in Illustrator straight away. I began by image tracing images found on royalty free websites, as well as creating my own icons. The initial concept was based around the name trilogy, and so I created three icons representing the business and combined them into a logo. After creating this initial concept on illustrator, I emailed the client requesting feedback on this particular concept and whether to go ahead with this design, from here I was able to begin creating the rest of the guidelines. When researching other salon logos, it was apparent that the branding of many were arguably stereotypically feminine, especially with the use of colours. Therefore, as Trilogy is a unisex salon, I aimed to create a neutral colour palette that was not perceived to be branded towards a particular gender.

Initial concept mockups for Trilogy

Overall, I believe I was successful in my aims when creating these logos and guidelines. However, If I had more time I would have liked to explore further concepts, as well as experiment with different typefaces that I am not familiar with.


Guidelines in use

Below shows a selection of screenshots of my guidelines being used in a variation of Part 1 web projects.

The village florist guidelines and logo being used in Part 1 web project
Trilogy guidelines and logo being used in Part 1 web project
The washbox guidelines and logo being used in Part 1 web project



After the guidelines had been distributed to the Part 1 students, a meeting took place in which they shared their feedback, both positive and negative.

The village florist

Overall the main criticism was surrounding the colour scheme, as there is a big contrast between the dark and light colours. The students stated that they would have liked a colour in between this range, as the paler colours were deemed difficult to use. However, overall the feedback about these guidelines was generally positive, especially with regards to the typefaces.

The washbox  

Some students found that the logo was not very ‘clean,’ for example the hanger line does not line up properly when the logo is enlarged. Likewise, when the logo is made into a vector, the hanger goes very thin, but the other elements do not. The feedback with regards to the colour scheme was mostly positive, however, some believed that the lighter colours were too light to use, and also that there was not much differentiation between the available colours. The typeface choices were well received.


The feedback for these guidelines was mixed; for example, some students liked the typeface choice, others did not. This feedback could be argued as subjective, as they did not report any issues with using the typefaces, only that they did not like them. Other feedback included that the colour scheme appears ‘masculine,’ and is very muted.



Upon reflection, it is apparent that in the future colour schemes choice need to be considered more carefully, as the majority of negative feedback related to this element. This is especially the case with ensuring a large range of colours are available, and minimising the contrast between the options. Similarly, it is important to remember the intended use of these projects is for mobile, and ensure that this impacts the design decisions. This job has also allowed me to improve upon my Adobe Illustrator skills, as prior to this job they were fairly limited. However, this being said, the logos could be improved by being crafted in a neater manner, without any minor errors or misaligned elements.

Furthermore, the feedback from the Part 1s allowed me to gain insight into elements of this project that I can improve upon in the future, for example choice of colour schemes, and typefaces.  Likewise, the feedback taught me to carefully consider how the guidelines and logo will be used, and in what environment, which in this case was within a mobile application. Overall, the main skill that I have taken away from this job was the ability to create high quality guidelines whilst working towards a tight deadline.

The village florist final brand guidelines


Trilogy final brand guidelines


The washbox final brand guidelines

Making a ZINE: ‘I am, we are… different by design’

Our second Baseline Shift session was run by Camara Dick, Seniz Husseyin, Malaika Johnson and Martha Macri, members of a group of students who have been working collaboratively over the past year to promote new perspectives on diversity in creative disciplines. Former students of the Department, Ziana Azariah, Fay Biggs and Lily Brown were also part of the team. The “I am, we are” team have been helping reshape some of our teaching, including building an entirely new module for Part 3 students. They’ve also captured a snapshot of key diversity topics in creative industries through the writing, design, and publication of a zine.

The team all share different experiences and opinions of diversity within design, motivating them to come together with the hope of creating changes they can be proud of. They’re challenging the dominant western canon within our discipline, seeking to counterbalance this tradition by broadening our curriculum and introducing new perspectives. As well as opening up new career opportunities, another motivation is to evolve a stronger sense of community within the department and hopefully encourage students to both find their individual voice and move beyond our ‘cultural comfort zones.’

Building a module

Brainstorming ideas for the new module

The new Part 3 module, Design for Change, was co-designed between the team and academic staff in order to promote the critical engagement of social issues and the exploration of these through a practical self-selected design brief. This module encourages students to engage with a range of current debates and perspectives on diversity, inclusion and global perspectives in design. Students studying on the module produce a practical project that aims to inspire change by engaging users in a cause.

Engaging students of the future

In order to create awareness and share ideas, the team ran an activity on undergraduate applicant days in which prospective students would share their interests within design. These were then displayed on a series of polaroid-style designs in order to show the vast range of design opinions and passions within the group of applicants. The idea was to start building a community among applicants even before they are offered a place to study here, but also to stress that we welcome people who might define ‘design’ in a range of different ways. In the future, the team plan to use this polaroid scheme with all students, in order to create a discussion about respective cultures and different inspirations.

Beyond Typography undergraduates

Whilst the team are all students within the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication, they have worked with a variety of groups and individuals in order to achieve their outcomes. They interviewed staff and students from all three departments in the School of Arts & Communication Design, as well as graduates and other professionals with links to the University. The insights gained form the basis of their ‘I am, we are …’ zine.

Future goals include:

  • encouraging students across the School to embrace their diversity and explore different perspectives within their own creative practices
  • diversifying the range of jobs available within the department’s real jobs scheme, with one aim being to reach out to Reading’s refugee community to provide design services with direct benefits to individuals, such as CV formatting.
Presentation at the 2017–8 RUSU Teaching and Learning Showcase

The zine

Working on the Zine

Following receiving funding from the University’s Partnerships in Learning and Teaching scheme, the team decided to publish a zine in order to spread awareness of diversity and inclusion in the creative sector. To showcase a broad range of practices, they decided to include content from members across the School as well as graduates. After interviewing students and practitioners about their work, the team began to put together and design the zine. With budget and time restrictions in mind, the team then began to make decisions including the grid system, format and paper stock. They chose an A5 format as their aim was to print a lot of copies, and this allowed that to be possible whilst sticking within their budget. As there were multiple people working on the zine, it was important to design a grid system with this in mind so that the final pages were consistent and cohesive. In terms of paper stock, they chose a matte finish as they wanted it to stand out against a ‘typical brochure.’

Finished product

The team said they felt incredibly satisfied and proud with the final outcome, receiving lots of feedback about how inspirational they, and the zine, were.  In the future, they aim to create a bigger and better zine, by including more content and space for them to be able to finesse their typography. They also hope to develop a theme for the next zine and extend its publication across print and digital channels so that they can engage a wider audience with diversity in design.


After their Baseline Shift presentation, the team gained a lot of interest from new and current students looking to get involved. Growing the team will allow for the project to continue and evolve.


Moving forward

This talk opened up the discussion of diversity within the department and allowed attendees to gain insight and become involved with how we can shape and develop this project for future students.

“As someone who never really second guessed the lack of diversity in the department teaching and the discipline of Graphic Design as a whole, the talk gave an interesting viewpoint on to this, shining light on the issue. The Zine itself was a great publication, and I hope it continues to be produced, getting better and better each year. I’d also like for the department to showcase speakers from different backgrounds to bring this idea of diversity forward into all aspects of our learning, as I think we have a lot to learn from each other!” – Laura Marshall, Part 3

As a student currently taking the new ‘Design for Change’ module I found it incredibly interesting to hear their thoughts and aims for the module, and have been really enjoying the discussion, debates and different perspectives within the seminars. After the talk, I spoke to other students who had attended and discovered they found it equally fascinating and hope to get involved in future projects.