We recently finished up a project for a client, an initial logo and branding project where we took the client’s business idea and turned it into a nice visual package. Not always easy, but they were happy with the final result and so were we.
The interesting part of the story isn’t the final design we ended up with (you’ll see that soon), but the initial part of our process, where we brought 3 different logo ideas to the client. They liked them all, but naturally, they had a favorite and we ran with that. The whole process got me thinking though, what happens to the designs that don’t make it and how close were some of our favorite and most impactful brand identities from not happening at all?
I know it isn’t true, but I can’t help but picture a design graveyard with serifed edges sticking out of the dirt and vector headstones reading “Here lies Reebok’s Union Jack logo|1895-1986” or something of the like.
In reality, it seems the logos that couldn’t quite make the cut end up like almost everything else, on the internet. Doing a little research, I was able to come across a few notable examples that nearly had a very different visual look.
Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign
VSA Partners (the creative agency that led this design effort) has publicly revealed these two options as the two runners up to Obama’s eventual campaign logo. While the final (and successful) logo brought in clear patriotism and neatness, think about what these other designs would have meant. Using the “O” as a canvas for another photo or image opens the door for popular culture to run wild, while the speech bubbles of option #2 bring social media and the idea of an increasingly connected and digital world to the forefront.
The iconic Hamilton poster we’ve all seen (pictured below) strikes a defiant tone and creates a clearly commercial and marketable performance in a mainstream, Broadway sense. Comparing that final look, to the two above options, there’s a striking difference in tone. Both of these version signal a similar defiant mood, but in very different ways. The use of the quill and single line of “a new mission” elicits optimism, while the “Rise up.” tag line associated with the ink splatter poster is quite the opposite. It’s a fantastic example of how one word – defiance – can be interpreted and visualized in a number of different ways and push emotions along a complete spectrum.
As a designer, you learn early on that 75% of your work won’t see the light of day. The design you choose, or your client chooses, will take on a life of its own and come to represent something that’s eventually beyond your control. But instead of retiring those old graphics to a design graveyard somewhere, save them and refer back to them. You never know when that design could spark a new idea, or perhaps even make its way into a fresh look later on.