LearnCarsonified rebranding process: part 05


writes on August 24, 2007

By Elliot Jay Stocks

In his comment on part 4, Andy Croll raised a really interesting point:

It did remind me of the US university sports team logo thing you often see on GAP or A&F sweatshirts, [and] that kinda nods to a community / all-in-it-togetherness that you get as a sports team

That’s what it had been reminding me of! And I certainly don’t have a problem with that – I think the “all-in-it-togetherness” of that logo style may well have been subconsciously influencing me anyway. The point is: despite bearing some similarities to the Coca Cola, Carlsberg, and possibly other identities that begin with ‘c’, I’m going to run with it for a bit. I don’t think the logo’s criticisms are strong enough to warrant an outright rejection just yet… but speak up if you think I’m wrong!

The next step I took was probably the most enjoyable: I started tracing over a print-out, modifying the type by hand. And it was at that moment that I realised the beauty of a hand-drawn, sketchy, work-in-progress type of aesthetic was exactly what I was after! The images are below; scroll down to the video if you want a detailed explanation.

Basic modification

On the train home, I started drawing over a print-out with some ideas on how to alter the characters.

Hand-traced over the print-out

This one’s with the suggested modifications from the sketch above, but actually I don’t think they worked.

Hand-traced over again but better this time

More subtle refinements. Note that I’ve changed the swash from the ‘n’ to the ‘f’, despite what I said before about not wanting to do that. Check out the video (at the bottom of this post) for a detailed explanation. Also, there’s a larger version here.

Vectoried version

This adds a bit of neatness while retaining the hand-drawn quality of the previous image (this is still rough, by the way – it was a quick experiement with Illustrator’s ‘Live Trace’ tool). There’s a larger version here.


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21 Responses to “Carsonified rebranding process: part 05”

  1. Hey guys, you may now have seen part 6 and I should point out that I’m going to pause work on this particular logo idea for the time being, but I’d still like to address some of the points you’ve raised. Thanks again for all this!

    @ Andrew: I agree. After a few days of reflection, I’m reverting to my original decision to place the swash on the ‘n’. It’s definitely more interesting and there were conflicts between the tails of the ‘n’ and swash on the ‘f’.

    @ Wez: Like most of the letters, the swash certainly needs neatening up. I feel that way even more now (after a week away) than before!

    @ Ollie: Thanks for bringing that up. It’s another one to consider.

    @ Nick: Wow, that’s so interesting! I wasn’t aware of that. I really appreciate you letting us know about that – I’m going to discuss this concep with the guys o Monday.

    @ Brian: I agree 100% on all tracking issues. These will be tidied up for sure. However, I simply feel that – as with natural writing – not all letters should be joined if there’s no natural flow or need for them to do so. Also, the ‘fi’ is joined (hence the ligature).

    @ Willie: Well, it has its similarities, as we’ve been discussing. It’s certainly something that we’re addressing (possibly even by moving away from this entirely – who knows?).

    @ John: I see your points, although I think we’re pretty settled on ‘Carsonified’ now, I’m afraid!

    @ Michael Olsen: Yep, another ‘c’ logo to add to the list! 😉

    @ Andy Croll: Great idea! I’ve been thinking of something similar; the idea of progression (left to right) from ‘sketched’ to ‘finished’. It’s not something I’ve spent too much time on yet but I really like your idea of creating the visual distinction between ‘carson’ and ‘ified’. If we return to this logo, this is definitely a route I’ll pursue. Thanks!

    @ Matt Munsey: Colour and texture… yes, quite possibly…

    @ Bustaa: Hmmm…

    @ BradM: This might be something I do after we’ve come up with the final thing. I’ll be the first to admit that my Illustrator skills are way behind my Photoshop skills, so I’ll probably have to brush up a bit myself!

    @ Jeremy Jarvis: It’s a great tool, especially for people – like me – who work primarily in Photoshop. Nice use of text shadows on your site, by the way! 🙂

    @ Martin: Yep, I’m going to give the swash back to the ‘n’ (see above).

    @ Julian Schrader: Agreed!

    @ Kevin: Yeah, I like their aesthetic. We’ve been having a look at their stuff too.

    @ G: I think Lisa’s already answered your comment pretty well, but I just wanted to clarify that I was under no pressure to post a blog entry / video every day. In fact, I never intended it to be more than a couple per week! It just turned out that I felt I had enough material and ideas I wanted to share.

  2. hiya – G. Elliot’s taking a little holiday in Barcelona at present, so we’ve come to a natural pause anyway! Hear what you’re saying – we certainly won’t be revealing everything and at every stage. Elliot is interested in sharing some of the steps in this process as they happened, something which a lot of people go through and who might find useful. We’re still a way off the final design – so there’s more to share, but the actual logo won’t be fully revealed until it’s ready to be seen in public 🙂

  3. Sorry, but I think this is a bit ridiculous. Sharing with your audience is nice, but not daily. You’re just putting way too much pressure on yourself with this. I think you’ll regret it afterwards, because you’ll realize you haven’t taken a) the time to think it through at rest, b) the opportunity to also do really shamefully bad stuff, you would not even dare to show.

    Also, having too much response too quick is just bad. Make up your own opinion and come up with a personal and therefore distinctive solution. Come back in a week or two. Meanwhile, work on other things too, to keep your head cool, instead having the constant pressure of ‘oh man, I need to post something cool on youtube today, and make sure I’m not ruining my career’.

  4. I kinda like the diy/organic feel ala SkinnyCorp logo of your original sketches.

    here’s their site:

  5. Somehow the “n” and the swash look odd for me — overall I think it’s quite nice.

    However, it’s interesting to watch the progress.

  6. I like the hand drawn look, visible guidelines and the sentiment behind it but by moving the swoosh to the F the logo has lost it’s edge for me. It makes the two parts of the word look too unified and bland. In the previous designs the swoosh on the N caught the eye because it wasn’t obvious.

    Overall, I really like the balancing of the outside C and D curves but the Coke and Carlsberg associations do worry me a little bit.

  7. The live trace tool in Illustrator is awesome, I only discovered it the other day (never reallly used illustrator before).

    It was perfect for converting my sketch into a vectorised version…


  8. At first I didn’t like the swoosh on the ‘f’ but after looking at a few more times, I think it is a better separation of ‘carson’ from the ‘ified’. Just in case you’re keeping score, I thought I’d mention it.
    Lastly, I’m not sure if you thought of this or not, but I for one suck at Illustrator and would be very interested in seeing a ‘video’ segment on you actually making the logo (almost tutorial if you will but not exactly) rather than just seeing the final product. A kind of ‘the making of…” kind of video.

  9. coca-cola?


  10. I agree with Andy Croll about making the “Carson” and “ified” look a bit different.

    I don’t see leaving the “ified” in the hand-draw kind of stage, while then cleaning up the “Carson” part. I think it would look more unfinished then saying “continually changing”

    I think this difference would be best handled with color and texture.

    I do like the concept of the hand-drawn sketchiness of it all though. Keep developing it.

  11. Really like the idea of the hand drawn aesthetic reinforcing the hands on and work-in-progress / behind the scenes approach that Carsonified have always taken. It almost looks carved into a block of wood, loving the handmade-ness.

    I think although Brian (above) seems generally down on the logo, it’s clearly evoking the right feeling… a crafted hand-written letter is exactly the vibe you’ve been talking about. Plus I think a bit of old-fashioned ‘handmade’ craft is exactly what differentiates both this logo and a small business like Carsonified. Old-fashioned doesn’t necessarily give me a negative feeling, it might just mean doing it properly.

    Think the imperfections help differentiate it from the aforementioned ‘C’ beverages. Plus the colour of the those beverages is as much the brand as the C/swoosh combo, as long as you avoid ‘Coke red’ or ‘Carlsberg green’ you’ll likely be ok.

    However I’d be tempted to tidy up the Carson (perhaps leaving out the cross-hatching) and allowing that to act as your metaphorical hyphen between Carson and ified.

    My initial instinct on seeing the logo was to have the ‘ified’ be handdrawn in style and maybe return to a ‘machine drawn’ Carson. Although on second thought I’m not sure how that’d work. It sound and look a little clichéd, but might be worth an experiment?

    I do think the swoosh on the 2nd hand drawn logo requires some smoothing, I find my eye drawn to the ‘pinch’ that Wez mentioned. Brian’s eye for detail on the letter spacing is also pretty bang on. But that’s bound to happen from a first or second draft, interesting to see where you take it from here.

  12. Some how it reminds me of the Cheers logo 🙂

  13. While I think Brian’s comments are very a little overly detailed, in general I agree with what he says. Although, I like A&F as a brand, it may not be one you should be associated with.
    For me, this is a nice typeface, a nice style, but it’s just not happening as a logo on many levels. I think (like Brian) that “ified” is just killing the entire thing for me. I think the problem is that Carson, is a name of of someone in the company, and that “ified” bit is making me feel a bit threatened, like if it was Hitler – ified or something. (I don’t have a problem with RC, by the way, in fact I’m have watched CS’s progress over the years and have enjoyed the company’s openness). It just seems a flawed proposition which your working toward. Anyway, since you’re unlikely to change the company name, I’ll await your results, since I have no idea how I would tackle it!!

    Great videos by the way, nice to see you have the time to share your work with us all. That’s such a good approach to have.

    Best of luck . . .

  14. I think your decision to move the swoosh was the right one, maybe I wouldn’t have made my previous comment if I’d seen this. Not too sure about the hand drawn angle though.

  15. First thing when I saw it, I thought it was the Coca Cola logo..

  16. I’m not feeling this logo so much.

    A&F is not good company to have; A&F is basically a really expensive generic brand; it is the frat boy analog to “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.”

    If you cut off the “ified” completely then the logo would improve at least 100%.

    Cursive is seen as increasingly feminine today; it has been a LONG time since I’ve seen anything handwritten by a guy that wasn’t block lettered. Cursive is something that I also consider to be antiquated, old-fashioned, and oblique. A love letter from my girlfriend or a note from my elementary school teacher to my mother would be written in cursive. Anything that we actually write is going to be printed. Is that the type of evocation you want?


    The tracking between the “a” and “r” is too wide; the right side of the “a” should not be concave.

    The tracking between “i” and “e” is _way_ too wide. It looks like the “ed” is falling off.

    The tracking on either side of the “f” should be more even.

    I don’t understand why some letters are connected (“Ca”) and others aren’t; especially, why connect “if” but not “fi”? Similarly, I think it is a bad idea to mix block and cursive letters.

  17. I think you’re spot on with the sketch concept, and really like the way the logotype is developing. I like the hand-drawn and unfinished feel – it’s a great way of gently nodding to the fact that web projects are very much living and ever-changing.

    Th relaunch of MTV’s US site is a great example of how to avoid creating a brand and overall aesthetic that leads to a company being pigeon-holed. They came up with the concept of a site “hat” – a playlist of user-submitted site headers that loaded at random on each refresh of their page. The result is a strong site feel that remains perfectly recognisable as the big daddy of the MTV family, but serves to strengthen the brand by suggesting that their look and appeal is one that wears many hats, caters to all and still celebrates its userbase; some concept very much in line with your own.

    I’m not necessarily suggesting that Carsonified go the same way, but your developing logo would lend itself very well to the concept. With a medium as diverse and ever-changing as the web, why can’t online logotypes be just as amorphous? (You’d need something fairly static for print, of course – electronic paper is some way off it seems!)

    Of course, you’ve probably got your work cut out designing one logo, without having to think of a handful of site header variations based on it…

    More info:
    MTV dot com: http://www.mtv.com/
    MTV hats blog: http://hatsblog.mtv.com/

  18. I’d worry about being too close to Dennis publishing’s logo more than Coke as that’s closer to your business model.

  19. Loving the vectorized version at the end of this piece. Reminds me of the old woodcut style when you zoomed in. I’d like to know your reasoning behind the mid point in the “f” swoosh. By this i mean the flow of the descender being interrupted, (irregular pinch, and darkened area).

    I’m feeling the overall look, and wonder how it would compare with a, and i don’t mean this in a derogatory way at all, tidy descender?

    Great idea to document this process and great work!!

  20. Great work, but I think the swish is better on the n. On the f it takes over a bit – looks a bit like a big tail. I think it also clashes with the bottom of the right side of the n. Something looks awkward.

    I like the way you are posting everyday. It’s interesting to see this evolve.

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