We’re really excited about our logo design for a new yoga studio here in Portland, Maine. Joseph and Candace Satlak, the owners of Still Water Yoga Portland (yeah, we designed their web site too, more about that in a later post) were great clients to work with, and I thought you might enjoy seeing the process behind the brand identity and logo design.
Before we start working on a logo design, we want to learn more about how an organization is trying to position themselves relative to their competition. In this case, our client had already spent a great deal of time looking at the other yoga studios in Portland, Maine as part of their business planning. They knew what made them different and what type of client they wanted to attract.
We helped them refine that vision and turn it into something visual.
They wanted to emphasize:
- waterfront location
- their individualized, friendly and comfortable approach that could be tailored to all yoga practitioners, including people with injuries or other limitations
- the experience of their teachers
- the mental and also spiritual side of yoga that accompanies the physical
- the Indian roots of yoga
- personally, they liked clean and modern, very Zen-like design
Our first task was to help them name their new business. We worked with our partner, Rob Coburn of Coburn Communications to develop a name for the studio. We suggested many different options that played up their waterfront location. These included: Harborside Yoga; Yoga On The Pier; Harbor Light Studio; Portside Yoga Room and many, more.
In the end we all loved Still Water Yoga because it suggested more than just a location on the Pier. It pulled in the spiritual and mental aspects of water and their practice.
The logo design process
In our branding research phase, as we looked at their competitors, we made the conscious decision to try and avoid: lotus flowers, faux Sanskrit letters, and silhouetted yoga poses. All three of those were very overdone both with local competitors in Portland, Maine, but also throughout the larger genre of yoga studio logos.
I want to show you what went into the development of the logo designs.
I believe in generating design ideas 3 ways:
- sketching by hand: pen or pencil (or watercolor in this instance) on paper.
- computer-based sketching: working in a program like Illustrator forces me to think differently and I end up creating designs I would not have come up with by hand. Using the computer and hand together gets the best results because I can generate more different ideas.
- word-based thinking: I like to do word association. For this project, some of the words I had going through my head were: movement, gentle, easy, flowing, body, ripples, waves, smooth, flat, stretching, etc
In addition to some more traditional pen/pencil sketches I decided to take out watercolors for this logo design. Using black India ink and several different types of paint brushes, I just created many abstract shapes that came from some of the word ideas I had generated. I felt this type of hands on technique gave a real authenticity to the logo design.
I’m going to start by showing you the first round of logos we presented. We developed a large number of initial logo designs for this project. Maybe just because the name and business had so much to work with.
Here are all the logos we presented in the first round. Click on each for a larger view.
Here are some of my thoughts about each:
- This one was clean and modern. Although it bothered me how much it looked like the logo of our local public radio station: MPBN.
- This was also clean and modern. Very upscale. This ended up being their second choice.
- Very simple, but more organic feeling with the brush stroke and more classic with the serif type. This one was well-liked, but maybe a bit too plain for everyone.
- I loved this completely watercolor look in both the typography and the ripple mark.
- The one that was ultimately chosen. It seems to read as both a sun over the water or a human body, which worked well for their yoga studio.
- A mosaic-inspired logo also calling upon the sun and sea.
- Two different type applications over a ripple water logo. We often show variations on a logo to show how it may be tweaked and refined.
- Very artsy and hand-done, but maybe a bit cliched? I did sneak an “S” from their name into the ripples of the water.
There was a clear and unanimous winner with #5. We did minimal refining to finalize the logo design. We adjusted the font just a bit to better letterspace the letters and adjusted a few, such as the “I” to make it a more thicker and consistent with the other letters in the name. We then added the location as a a sort of tagline because it’s location is so unique.