How To Design A Monogram Logo With Adobe Illustrator

Wikipedia describes a monogram as:

A monogram is a motif made by overlapping or combining two or more letters or other graphemes to form one symbol.

I describe a monogram as an (hopefully) epic fu-sion-ha of multiple letters within a creative mark, representing a person, place, or thing.

In this episode of Making A Mark, I am going to take you through my process of creating a monogram mark. The thing I am making this for is for my fantasy football team, the Stroll City Strivers. Now, I have already broken down my design of the brand of the Strivers in a previous video and blog post. But I’ve been thinking about adding a letter mark to the brand. I could possibly use the monogram as a faux “throwback” part of the brand. We’ll see. Let’s get started.

STEP 1: Analyze each letter. What makes each letter unique? How can you play with that?
STEP 2: Take that intel and play with how you can combine the letters.
STEP 3: Digitize the sketch.
STEP 4: Profit. Present.

Logo Design Review | The Alliance for American Football (Part 2)

The first four logos the Alliance for American Football revealed were a big hit with me. The Atlanta Legends, Birmingham Iron, Orlando Apollos, and Memphis Express all have outstanding brand concepts. The next four revealed continued the trend of great design work and brand ideas.

The Arizona Hotshots had the first logo I saw from the new batch. The overall concept is inspired by the standard fire department shield design you frequently see. The Hotshots feature illustrated pulaski axes crossing each other, surrounded by flames below. One of the things I truly appreciate about this design is the subtle “AZ” that you can see in between the axes at the top. As a designer, I love seeing little touches and references like that incorporated into designs. Meaning in design is very important.

The Salt Lake Stallions are bringing that horsepower with a very sharp stallion illustration. Continuing the trend of hidden letters, you can see the S in the design below the horse’s face. The mane, as is the overall illustration, is energetic and bold. This horse has an attitude and a confidence that speaks to what the Salt Lake team is trying to be about.

The San Antonio Commanders logo pulls from the history and a major landmark of the city. The iconic Alamo is depicted above the sword, which points upward and onward. The angle and the perspective make the sword active, as if that would be the way it would be held by someone commanding an army to battle. The Lone Star of Texas is placed below the sword. The entire concept looks like it could be a military patch. This is all very well done and comes together very nicely. It speaks to the location in an outstanding way.

The San Diego Fleet goes all the way in its Naval theme, from the design of the logo to the name of the franchise. The naval ship and the chevron are tributes to the Navy heritage in San Diego. The strength of the franchise is evident in how their brand is designed. The ship is coming at you, with its sharp edges, symmetrical construction, and light shadows.

According to the Fleet website:

“The colors and typography are unique to professional athletics, mirroring those of Navy ships and the signature San Diego sunshine and Battleship Gray.”

With all 8 of the teams’ names and logos now unveiled, my excitement for the first season of the Alliance of American Football is at the highest it has ever been. I love that the team brands don’t seem generic. The logos are professional and high caliber while also being unique, fun, and creative with meaning. Excellent job to everyone involved.

~b.

Logo Design Review: Alliance of American Football (Part 1)

From the moment it was announced, I’ve been impressed with the rollout of the Alliance of American Football. The Alliance of American Football (AAF) is a new professional football league, that was announced this past Match, to premiere in February of 2019. Over the course of past few months, the AAF have unveiled coaches, player signings, and cities that will host teams. But recently they finally started to reveal what I’ve been waiting to see: team names and logos.

The first logo I saw was for the Orlando Apollos. First and foremost, I was pleasantly surprised that the mascot for the Orlando team wasn’t something generic. You could tell that thought went into it, as is demonstrated in the introduction video. The logo itself does a fantastic job in visually representing the story they are trying to tell with the franchise. The illustration of the marksmen is well done within the O. They describe the Apollo as the Greek god of sun and light, which fits for an Orlando, Florida based team. The color orange is typically associated with warmth, heat, sunshine, and enthusiasm so it fits well here. I’m also a big fan of the “precision marksman” pointing his arrow east.

The Birmingham Iron is a very strong name for a franchise. It’s also a uniquely appropriate name for a franchise in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham is the most populous city in Alabama and was nicknamed “The Pittsburgh of the South” because it served as a primary iron and steel industry center. The name, as well as the branding, speak to the history of the city and toughness the team wants to exude on the football field. The color black is often associated with power so the color scheme of black, steel grey and silver works well within the story of the brand. The iron football is an excellent illustration that uses the different shades of grey and some white to represent the iron material. The word IRON is strong and pronounced to really draw your attention to the kind of strength being shown in this mark.

The Atlanta Legends also decided to pull from their city’s history. Atlanta is and has been home to many legends in many different industries (in and out of the realm of sports). From the old gold crown with the football in the negative space to the choice of purple as a back drop, the Atlanta Legends have an outstandingly royal look to match their brand story.

The Memphis Express want you know that they are going places and fast. The story they want to tell is one of speed and breakthrough. The plane is breaking through the E, leaving a trail behind it. The letter E seems to be in movement as well. The entire mark is not only moving forward but upward in their goal of gridiron success. According to the Memphis Express page on the AAF website: “Under his leadership and that of GM Tim Lewis and Irby, the Express is all about the pairing of precision and urgency. Memphis moves swiftly, purposefully, determined to move forward, to raise the bar and earn respect every day.”

I am loving the AAF rollout for each team and so far the logos are all great. You can tell a lot of thought went into these and I am excited for the next stage: team jersey designs!

~b.

Making A Mark: Fall Football

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Fall does not arrive officially until September 22nd. However, one of fall’s greatest pastimes has returned to our lives: football. The college and professional football seasons have begun and I am very happy! Football, particularly college football, is my favorite sport to watch. On this episode of “Making A Mark”, I attempt to design a logo that represents to upcoming season of my favorite sport.

How To Design A Logo For A Podcast

We are each blessed with gifts and talents. These talents we possess are to be cultivated and used in a life of true service, driven by purpose. It would be a crime to sit on these gifts or only use them for selfish gain. I say all this to say: If you’re a designer and you’re not helping your friend brand their brand spanking new podcast, then what are you doing?

My creative writer/storyteller TJ Tooley had an idea for a podcast called For The Love of Story and he wanted my assistance in helping bring the visual identity of it to life. I am always thrilled to be able to help friends in their creative pursuits in any way possible. The For The Love of Story podcast is a show where TJ takes you through his writing process, reads his creative work, discusses the stories of his life and the lives of others, and more!

The process of building the brand started with some dry erase markers and a whiteboard. We talked about what the podcast concept would be and how he wanted that visual represented. The main For The Love of Story logo is a result from that conversation. The quill, the representation of the writer, is what we build the identity around. The custom quill I drew in Adobe Illustrator was the first element created for the podcast. With the text, I had the idea to have the name of the podcast going down the left side of the logo. In the name, I knew STORY was the most important part so I had that written out in a cursive and connected it with the quill to make it seem like it was written with it.

With the main logo designed, we began discussing the different segments on the show. TJ had the plan to have different categories of episodes, allowing him to express the mission of the show is diverse ways. Thus far, the podcast episode types have included Yours Truly (personal tales and perspective of TJ), Impromptoo (TJ reads a short story he has written based on a writing prompt), and Story Time (TJ interviews people and invites them to tell a personal story of their own). Each different type of episode has its own logo that I crafted to help him promote the show in a unique way. Yours Truly has the text written in the same font as “Story” from the main logo with the quill connection. Impromptoo features the quill standing in as the captial I and the word PROMPT featured with an underline. For Story Time, I actually illustrated the very microphone TJ has been using to record his podcast, the Blue Snowball. There are more segments to be revealed in the future.

This project is a fun one. I’m proud of TJ jumping into the podcasting life and sharing his creative brain with the world. Be sure to listen and subscribe to the For The Love of Story podcast wherever you get your podcasts!

~b.

College Football Hall of Fame logo by Harley Creative

I love college football. It’s my favorite sport to watch. Saturdays bring me great joy in the fall. As of writing this post, we are days from the start of the first full weekend of college football and I am excited. As you know, another thing that excites me is logo design. On this episode of “I Didn’t Design It But I Like It”, I want to highlight the work of Harley Creative – specifically their College Football Hall of Fame logo.

The College Football Hall of Fame (and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience) opened in Atlanta, Georgia in August of 2014. The Hall of Fame is represented by a mighty fine logo designed by Harley Creative. The logo is a football illustration with a series of ribbons/banner around it with the text, including the Chick-fil-A logo. I’m a fan of the composition of this logo. The text is warped & mapped to each ribbon well. It accomplishes everything it needs to without doing too much or too little.

I’m also a fan of their National Singing Day logo. Since the event was operating at the same place, it made sense to use many of the same elements. Love the typography work with the metallic-type effect on “National Singing”. I also love the illustrated pen being the i and singing the paper within the mark. These logos are well done.

 

Harley Creative is an Atlanta-based design studio that specializes in branding and graphic design for the sports and entertainment industry. They’ve done so much great work and made so many marks that I thoroughly enjoy. If I had to pick some other favorites of mine, I would mention the SWAC Championship, the Citrus Bowl, and the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville to name a few. Harley Creative maximizes their skills in the sports design space to fantastic result.

Go check them out on social media if you want to be inspired by great design work.

Salute to Harley Creative!

~b.

#HeroesAreAthletes Branding Breakdown: Luke Cage & Misty Knight

Looking at the some of the best athlete visual brands and finishing the latest season of Luke Cage on Netflix inspired me to create a new brand identity project series: #HeroesAreAthletes. As a logo & brand identity designer, I am always coming up with ways to practice and get better at my craft. I’m also in the creative place in my life where, if I think it’s cool, I’m going to try it.

#HeroesAreAthletes is a design series where I put together a visual brand concept for fictional characters that are considered heroes of their fictional story. At least at first, I’m going to be focusing on comic book heroes. The logo for the series itself plays off comic books. The logo is inspired by the top left corner of comic books, where publishers typically feature the company’s logo, the price of the book, and the number of the issue. I designed the logo with the official Creative Bobbie logo at the top, “Heroes Are Athletes” text in the center, and a simplified cape tail with a star.

The first brand concept I tackled was for the bulletproof hero for hire, the power man Luke Cage. Using other athlete brands as inspiration, I wanted to create something that used the least to represent the most. Luke Cage was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. He gains the powers of superhuman strength and unbreakable skin through an experimental procedure he was subjected to involuntarily. He now uses his powers to protect Harlem. My logo concept speaks to who he is and his story.

The logo is created on a 6×8 grid. In the United States, prison cells are usually about 6 by 8 feet in dimension. His initials LC are both seen. The overall shape refers to his real first name: Carl. The top right can also be interpreted as a closed fist from the front. (The intro to the Luke Cage series sees him punch at the camera.) I went with a blocked, heavy logo that speaks to his power. The colors are inspired by the Netflix show’s branding and his initial appearance in Marvel Comics.

After arriving at a logo I liked, I began seeing how I could apply and extend his brand. I created a full brand presentation with hoodie mockups, a shoe design concept, and even coffee packaging design. “Getting coffee” is a recurring joke within the show. I also included his catchphrase “Sweet Christmas” throughout.

The next hero to get the branding treatment was Misty Knight. Misty is one of my favorite characters on the show. She’s been through a lot and maintained her strength through it all. She deserves a great visual brand identity. Misty is an outstanding police detective in the New York City Police Department who often teams up with Luke Cage. After going through many possiblities, I arrived at her logo. Obviously, I combined her initials M and K. The disconnected left side of the M represents Misty’s bionic arm. The left side of the M is actually a sword, a common weapon of knight – a play on her last name. The circle surrounding the mark is left over from my initial plan to incorporate a basketball reference some how, as Misty has a background as a basketball player. The colors were chosen from her and her bionic arm using the eyedropper tool in Adobe Photoshop.

This whole project is another example of finding the joy in the intersection of what I do to what I like/love. I’m going to continue this journey with other heroes I feel I can make a visual brand concept for. What heroes should I do next?

~b.

Case Study: Elite 100 Logo

The Blue & Gold Loyalty Foundation supports the North Carolina A&T University Band Program through fundraising efforts. The Elite 100 is the designation for a select group of donors to the Blue & Gold Loyalty Foundation. Supporters were asked to donate $100 and were recognized for their support of the North Carolina A&T State University Band Program. As an alumnus of A&T and the A&T Band, I love providing designs for this cause. I made the official Blue & Gold Loyalty Foundation and had an idea for the Elite 100 logo.

First, the badge shape mimics the Foundation’s shape but I made the weight of the stroke heavier for Elite 100. At the bottom of the logo, you can see the top of the same drum major hat that is prominent in the branding of the Foundation. The drum major is the student leader of the band. The Elite 100 are somewhat like the drum majors of the donors. The top of the hat represents the pinnacle of giving. The goal is to encourage supporters to strive to give that extra for a great cause.

The Elite 100 text inside is written in a thicker font with the 100 being the most visible. The number 100 represents the amount being given per supporter as well as the name of the recognition so it needed to be front and center. The sea of lines at the bottom represent the musical staff, 5 lines & 4 spaces. Another musical reference can be seen at the very top of the logo. The treble clef, along with the drum major, also ties the Elite 100 logo to the Blue & Gold Loyalty Foundation logo.

This project is another example of my calling to design with purpose. I love the A&T band program. As an alum, I have a duty to use my skillset (and my dollars) to support in any way possible whenever I can.

~b.

The Genius of the Staubach’s Coffee logo by Brandon Moore

The moment I saw Brandon Moore’s Staubach’s Coffee brand on Twitter was the moment I discovered a brand new level to fantasy football. In 2017, I was invited to participate in my first ever fantasy football league. His Staubach’s Coffee brand inspired me to create an entire brand for my fantasy football team, the Stroll City Strivers.

The very first thing that struck me about the brand was the creative name of the franchise: Staubach’s Coffee. I’ve quickly learned the importance of a great fantasy football franchise name. Staubach’s Coffee is a delicious, ingenious combination of the Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and the American coffee company Starbucks Coffee. After you get done marveling at the magnificent name, you get to the logo. The star (hehe) of the show is the illustration of good ol’ Roger in the classic Cowboys helmet in the center. The name surrounds the illustration with a star on either side. The texture over the design enhances the classic feel of the overall brand.

Also, it wasn’t just the logo that inspired me. Take a peek at the #StaubachsCoffeeForged hashtag on Twitter to see how Brandon brought the franchise alive on social media. There were starting lineups, game results, top performer highlights, game ads, and even uniform concepts! This whole project is another example of when design and sports meet to provide me with such motivation and entertainment!

Brandon Moore is a Graphic Artist in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area that currently does work for the Miami Dolphins and New Miami Stadium. His brand identities are awesome and I often refer to them when I am trying to present my own. I, personally, wish the Oklahoma City Thunder would call Brandon and tell him to brand the team. He already has a great presentation on his Behance that would uplift the visuals of the franchise to new heights.

Salute and thank you, Brandon Moore, for your work!

~b.

The National Leadership Conference Logo

National Leadership Conference. Also, known as NLC.

NLC is the event that happens every summer where district officers, counselors, and governors come together along with national leadership to discuss how to better serve Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma as well as college and university bands. It is a very important event for the Fraternity and Sorority. So, as with every other event hosted by the organizations, it needed a logo. As the National Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer (my title is boss), it fell on me to provide such.

Obviously, the first thought that came to mind was how to represent leadership. Leadership describes the participants as well as speaks to the goal of the event itself. When I thought leadership, my mind went to podium (or lectern). Often during meetings and conventions, presiding officers speak from behind one. In Adobe Illustrator, I tried a few options for the illustration of a lectern.

Once I had the base I wanted, I thought about what else I could put on it. I could have tried to put both the Fraternity and the Sorority crests on the design. However, I wanted to do something that fit more seamlessly with the design. The star in the center of the lectern represents Kappa Kappa Psi. Much of the Kappa Kappa Psi brand uses the star. The director baton represents Tau Beta Sigma. Also, if you turn the entire logo clockwise 90 degrees, you can see the bottom of the lectern is a musical staff. I love fitting in subtle references to organizations in my designs at work.

To complete the design, I used the font Trajan to write the names of the organizations, “NLC”, and National Leadership Conference around the logo. The NLC is most prominent because that’s the most commonly used name for the event. I’m a fan of Trajan because it gives off a level of official sophistication that I like. I adjusted the kerning above and below so that the additional text would cover a good amount of the length.

Overall, the logo looks really nice.

Hopefully, I’ve created something that will stand the test of time.

~b.