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I’m Jacob Cass, the founder of JUST™ Creative. I’m a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, working with clients all around the world. My specialty is logo & brand identity design. JUST™ Get in touch.

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How to design a logo in 30 seconds

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An Atlanta-based brand, Malcolm Fontier, who produce “modern carryalls for work and travel” recently shared this video with me; it shows how they came to create their “double rectangle” logo within 30 seconds, poking a stick at the usually drawn out logo design process.

I thought the video and claimed true story was an interesting way to promote their brand & products, which seems to be geared towards those with minimalistic sensibilities.

I personally like the mark, and think it works quite well in context of the carryalls (see pic below), though the mark does have its fall-backs such as not being able to give voice to the actual brand name, Malcolm Fontier. With this said, I’m glad to see that they went with the logotype on the header of their website.

Malcolm Fontier

The overall brand identity of Malcolm Fontier has been pulled off quite well, though it does remind me of the approach Fresh Jive took a few years back (see pic below), when they chose to have no logo at all, just a white rectangle. I think Malcolm Fontiers’ approach is more successful as people can still come to identify & relate to the two rectangle mark, as appose to a blank space.

freshjive-no-logo

We’ve discussed ‘simplelogos on here before, but I’d like to hear your opinion on this one too.

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45 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • Lisa Raymond Reply

    Very simple indeed! I always wonder how other designers get their ideas for logos. Makes me glad I’m in the industry! Question: how do you get your ideas?

  • joel Reply

    Not really impressed, if I saw this logo in the open I wouldn’t recongise it as a logo (maybe a button hole?), an probably would even both to find out what it is.
    But then their attitude is good, I like the way they’ve taken a bold approach (to not care so much?) which differentiates them.

  • Robert Vining Reply

    I have to say, when I saw the sketch as he presented it, I was of the opinion ‘Are you kidding me?’ as well… but it works on the bags, and works well.

    My 2 favorite logos I’ve created in the past were both very simple designs, and used basic shapes as well.

  • Dp Reply

    Looks like it was done in 10 seconds. Bleh.

  • Jason Vana Reply

    I definitely prefer a simplistic logo over something complex, but I’m not sure how I feel about this one. It seems they have done a good job with placement on the product (their logo is fully seen but not necessarily taken as a logo), but I wonder how well they have linked their name to the logo, especially since I didn’t see it on their web site.

  • Noelle Hughes Reply

    Hooray for him that he landed upon an idea so quickly, that it was accepted and that it seems to be a success. That’s…amazing.

    It’s a fair enough logo and I acknowledge the bold approach. Nice bags.

    However, the tone of the movie seems to make fun of the logo design process.

    Are we all going to be expected to whip out the next Nike swoosh in less than ten minutes?

    It generally doesn’t go like that. Can I get a witness?

  • Stephen Dyson Reply

    If only it was that simple, admittedly the logo looks good on the bags however I don’t think it would work on anything else quite as well.
    Jason makes a good point about associating the brand name with the logo and on this case you’d have no clue as to what it was.

  • Kieran Daly Reply

    As I couldn’t design a logo even if you held me over a cliff and threatened to drop me to the bottom I am very impressed by this. Wild idea he could do different colored ones – woo hoo –

    I love simple however and it works best most times. I am still looking quizzically at Starbucks latest logo wondering what brand it is.

    There is so much blandness around for logos that people clearly paid money for. I was at a food fair recently and three of the food stands in the SAME TENT had nearly identical logos – wonder if they noticed -

    People don’t pay a lot for logos I think – they pay a lot for innovation (in all things) –

    Like this blog – will add to my reader –

    Kieran

  • Brian Reply

    I think I’d get canned for a logo like that

  • Sara Reply

    I think that most people have logo ideas floating around in their head. It’s just putting them together correctly and knowing what your looking for. I don’t think they are scoffing at logo designers, but rather just presenting the idea that they know what they want, and are uncomplicated. A lot of us designers have to deal with customers who take FOREVER making a decision, and obviously this company is not one of them. I think all of us have had at least ONE client like the first idea we had and we wasted time working on other ones. All in all, I think its a great concept, going back to the simple shapes, it works well for a variety of things, and who cares it only took 10 seconds? A great idea is a great idea. Period.

  • Ken Reply

    Before watching the video, I viewed the image of the bags and honestly didn’t really notice the logo. I didn’t see it until I saw it done in the vid.

    The logo is definitely easy to remember, which is good. Talk about simplicity and minimalism, right? Though I feel that it didn’t strike a strong first impression on me as much. I could have if I initially knew them, I guess.

    The ‘double rectangle’ feature can definitely work well to set that identity though.

  • Mauricio Hernandez Reply

    Awesome, nice solution very sofisticated, i want to share the following regarding this article:

    Consider this story about Pablo Picasso. He was having dinner in a restaurant in New York, when a lady approached him, told him she was a big fan and asked him to draw her something there and then. He took a napkin and started to draw the waiters who were serving at the table. When he finished, he handed the napkin to her and requested $10,000. The lady was shocked and commented that it had only taken him five minutes, to which Picasso replied: ‘No madam, it took me a lifetime.’ As the L’Oreal advert says, ‘You are worth it’. Be proud of your prices and speak what is in your head.

    via: http://www.ppdentistry.com/dental-management/article/5-more-ways-to-charge-the-right-fees

  • Berenice Weber Reply

    the logo is sort of whatever, but well-known brands have been able to get away with stuff like that… as for the video, LOL, loved it :) cute, the dog too ;)

  • brett kilburg Reply

    Makes a mockery of the design process doesn’t it? Its funny, as well as lame.

  • DevilBiss Pressure Washer Reply

    A logo can help and should have some effort put in I belive but it’s the product that makes it :D

  • Carolyn Reply

    This kind of works in a simple way, and I like the idea of thirty seconds, but don’t think most people should think of this as a realistic way to get a logo. Somewhat reminds me of the Nationwide Insurance logo, which is an empty box. Yes – empty. Looks really lame. Kind of like this, but square. And only one. Hmmm.

  • A.nelia Reply

    First of all – the video is great!
    Secon: I think that it didn’t happen that fast, but it is a great way to promote it.
    Looks amazingly good on the bags, and the web – suiting perfectly. It is a great start for the brand.

    I hope it works as a business also.

  • andreapix Reply

    simply design…simply great!

  • Cyn Reply

    Malcolm Fontier makes carryalls, not logos. Still, both are part of the design process, and designers of bags will carry in their minds the core message of their brand. (Simplicity? Holds anything, even two words? Fits anything? I’m not sure.)

    Still, this was a promo video, developed to make you think about their product. It is also a marketing tool designed to communicate with people (presumably) like them: folks who work in intimate environments (maybe their homes even), entrepreneurs who need to do more than “just design bags”. As an entrepreneur with a one-minute commute (except when I travel for work/pleasure) I identified and I think about their brand when I need to get a carryall.

    So, what I think about the logo is irrelevant. Now, I know what theirs is. The video did the trick. Who knows if the decision to go with this logo was a 30-second process? Does it matter?

    I think what they were trying to do was communicate the simplicity of their design for bags and say they extend it to other things they do too. I don’t think they were knocking the logo design process at all. I just think they were looking for more ways to keep the conversation going about “Malcolm Fontier”.

    For this. I love it.

  • Leighton Hubbell Reply

    Interesting and constructive take on the video, Jacob.

    I would have to agree, that the logo design is really nothing that new as you have pointed out with the Fresh Jive approach awhile back.

    Yes, it is a bold approach and works well within the context of the bag designs, but does it really?

    As Cyn pointed out, the real point of the web video was to plug the new ‘logo’ and branding of the company and get some buzz going – which it has done. But, had they not gone that route, would anyone really know that that was a logo in the lower right corner? Probably not.

    Sure, you can hit one out of the park with a cool idea and their approach to get it started was well conceived with the video. But, it’s far from a done deal.

    Evidently they weren’t totally going ‘all in’ with the idea, because had they done that, why would they need anything other than their signature rectangles in their web header?

    You can’t do that unless you’ve successfully built a brand that no longer needs a logotype, like Nike.

    They’ve got a ways to go.

  • Chris Reply

    This is a great article! Personally love the mark. Thanks for posting!

  • Michael Dambold Reply

    In school, I would have failed a class had I done that.

    In business, I would be fired if I had done that.

    In professional circles, I would be laughed out of every single professional group akin to AIGA if I did that.

    Design is more than boxes. It takes more than 30 seconds.

    I was trained in classical art. I was trained in classical and modern design theory, typographic theory, and we learned from professionals such as Debbie Millman, Steven Heller, Massimo Vignelli, Stefan Sagmeister and the like.

    This would never be accepted as a valid design practice by my school, let alone business.

    And I don’t think it should.

  • michael Cousins Reply

    Lets remember Malcolm is not a logo designer – he just needed a logo. So, he made one. And for me, I think @cyn hit the nail on the head.

  • Noelle Hughes Reply

    Perhaps one of us should design a bag in five minutes and post a video about it.

    While this may be a great video to promote the bags, it does matter to be so offhand about one of the most “arcane” creative processes that a designer has to go through. Many times a client doesn’t understand why a logo takes so long or why they end up costing as much as they do–when they’re not plonking down $100 to get one online.

    It matters a lot.

  • Insanemoe Reply

    not impressed by this logo done in 3 secondes and not 30…

    Not saying its ugly and not graphic but missing something there.

  • Darren Reply

    Ha! Now that made me chuckle –

    This is obviously where I’ve been going wrong – no warm-up exercises, the wrong tunes on my ipod, and I’m also missing a dog!

    I’m sure if I address those 3 issues, killer logos will flow-a-plenty ;-)

    Many Thanks,
    Darren.

  • David Christian-Woodruff Reply

    Whilst I can understand where people are coming from in saying that the logo is too simplistic and bland, it’s possibly one of the new brand’s main strengths. The products speak for themselves in their overall design and finish, and with the plain rectangular logo, the two parts of the design work well and come together to produce a very effective and striking brand.

    What seems to be apparent from this, is that there are certain designers who are very defensive about their work and have taken offense at the idea that a logo design could take a mere 30 seconds. What I think a lot of them fail to take into consideration, is that the vast majority of logo’s could be designed in that time. It’s the process in which we entrench ourselves to come to a conclusion which takes the bulk of the effort and sometimes isn’t necessary if simple communication skills are applied when talking to customers, something I’m sure was key in this case.

    It’d be interesting to find out exactly how they came about resolving this project as in my experience, customers are normally much more demanding and require many different outcomes, perhaps this one was different.

  • Jacob Cass Reply

    Lisa,
    I don’t believe there is any one way to get ideas, as they can come from anywhere. I personally get mine best from sketching and experimenting in Illustrator but sometimes they come at the strangest times.

    Robert,
    I agree it works quite well on the bags, but the association does get lost on the website where there are no rectangles to be seen.

    Noelle,
    It does make fun of the process, but the process is never linear… ideas can come from anywhere at any given time. Some projects can take a few hours, others, much longer. I think this was a clever satire.

    Kieran,
    Thank you for the add, and hope to see you comment on here again, thanks!

    Sara,
    “A great idea, is a great idea. Period.” Agreed.

    Ken,
    Maybe this is the purpose, just like designer fashion items that have no logo to be seen.

    Mauricio,
    Ah yes, that story is a good one, I’ve heard it a few times now but always good for a reminder.

    Cyn,
    The time certainly doesn’t matter entirely, but there is always that question of ‘could there have been a better solution?’ or ‘how do you know when it’s done‘?

    Seth Godin had a nice blog post recently saying that the question should actually be “when is it good enough?”

    Leighton,
    Thanks for the feedback. Some valid points but as I mentioned to Ken, maybe this was the point, to make the logo invisible but still there? Similar to fashion items, that don’t often include their logo anywhere… but that is another discussion. But yes, they have a way to go, especially if comparing to Nike.

    David,
    As Sara mentioned “A great idea, is a great idea. Period.” Whether it takes 3 seconds or 3 years to execute is another thing though. I would also be interested in hearing behind the ‘real’ process.

  • Matt Magi Reply

    Very cool. I need to get some tracing paper/scrap book to jot down my ideas rather then lined paper, using shapes then making text/logo fit within the shapes is an awesome way to have a well balanced logo.

  • Chris Reply

    Smartass!

    Well, without delving into the conversation of what is and isn’t good design, this proves two things:

    1) With enough money you can brand anything.

    2) Sometimes an effective logo can be executed in a short amount of time . . . though I’ll stop short of calling this effective. What I mean to say is: Take for instance “Satisfaction” from the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards came up with the hook in 30 seconds . . . but it was years of playing that got him to that point. So yes, an effective 30 second logo is possible, but the ability to make one that quickly will not be acquired overnight.

    God, I hope this doesn’t get too widespread, my clients have enough ego and crappy ideas to begin with, could you imagine what the world would look like if they all decided to start designing their own shit without the help of us creatives? ;)

  • SEO Midlands Reply

    That’s brilliant! Such a simple design, but very iconic looking! Ace!

  • Emily Carter Reply

    I’m not buying that this logo was created in ’30 seconds’. Even if this was his first idea, and it took 30 seconds to draw, there had to be some thought process and discussion beforehand. And if this was the first, and only idea created and presented, they didn’t do themselves, their client or customers justice by not exploring other options. What about words around the boxes? Words in the boxes? Multiple boxes? Colors? Blank? Filled in? Something other than a box? And on and on and on…

    I can believe the logo was ‘drawn’ and ‘created’ in 30 seconds. I’ve drawn lots of doodles in 30 seconds while concepting and one of those ideas becomes the logo. So technically you could say the logo was ‘designed in 30 seconds’, but there were many other ideas and options vetted during the process to help determine the best direction. They’re not doing any other designers justice either by saying a logo can be done in 30 seconds. Sometimes ideas do just come to you, but that doesn’t mean it will happen every time.

    I think the logo looks decent on the products, somewhat interesting. But not ground-breaking. Would like to see some more ideas :)

    Love the Picasso story Mauricio!

  • Malcolm Fontier Reply

    Hi Everyone.

    I just read every comment and thoroughly enjoyed them all. I’d like to give a little background info that may answer a few questions.

    First, the video is definitely not 100 percent accurate but the basic flow of the the day is true- especially the warm up exercises;) Everyone has a logo stretch routine, right?

    We were, and still are, a tiny company which always helps with the approval process. We know that most people’s design process, including ours is never this smooth. When I sketched up the logo we were still working at home and Gabrielle, my wife and business partner was out, so who was to argue with me when I chose this design! (The “Are you serious?!” part is also pretty accurate.) I worked as a consultant for years before we decided to launch our own line so I know how hard it can be to please clients or explain the full extent of the design process.

    My background is product design, so logo design isn’t something I have done a lot of. Creating our own line, we are forced to wear a lot of hats and take on new challenges. It’s been fun stepping out of my comfort zone and testing if any of my previous design experience is relevant on new projects. One thing that I have noticed is that even when I land on a strong concept right away, for products or graphics, I end up telling myself that there must be something better out there and to keep pushing. If I end up coming back to the original concept I wish I had just run with it from the start and saved myself a lot of time. (again, much different when your working on something for yourself versus a client). The concept came quickly, but implementing our double rectangle logo on products required few variations. We decided to keep the video short and have fun with it since 3 hours of footage of us debating a few stitches wouldn’t make a very good video.

    We were hesitant to put any logo on the outside of the bags because we wanted the product’s design to stand on it’s own rather than rely on the name. We decided that it made sense to have a recognizable but subtle detail to speak for the brand. Whether it was successful or not is still TBD. Either way, we are glad we were able to create something that stirs a little debate. Personally, I feel like the the only total failing in an art or design piece is something that fails to stir any kind of emotion.

    Again, we really enjoyed all of the great feedback. Feel free to drop us a line directly if you have any other thoughts or suggestions.

    Cheers,
    Malcolm

  • Dan Reply

    I hope clients don’t see this and get the wrong idea about logo creation.

  • Geoff Reply

    Is there any evidence to suggest that this device actually makes customers recognise their brand?

    If so, it works. Better than all the red squares, orange squares, blue squares etc.

    If not, too bad…but nice try of a variation on a classic theme.

  • dpi Reply

    When see the only two rectangles:
    What the funny? is it a logo? too simple.. what it communicate? etc..

    When see these two rectangles with their product:
    A simple “WOW”( in Bold, 22 points)

    Really this logo output shows me a lot of hidden precious things in logo design.

  • Cameron Spear Reply

    I’m not against simple logo designs, but I don’t like this one because the two little rectangles look functional. Make slots for a card or extra pockets (depending on the bag).

    If I had that bag, that’s all I’d ever think about. Why I can’t put coins in the little pocket in the front.

  • Geoff Reply

    As long as it leads to customers recognizing the brand – that’s the one and only thing that matters.

    But after looking at this for a while, I’m unconvinced, and suspect that it wouldn’t have any effect at all on the minds of potential customers. It’d be good if they actually conducted some market research, I’d be interested.

  • Creative Girl Reply

    So fast, yet so effective! This is great!

  • andrew Reply

    OK, it’s simple – and that’s good. The idea behind these abstract shapes is also good (just to outline the bounding box of the two words that happen to be of the same dimensions). Howerver I think those are the only good things about it.
    Generally I agree with joel’s opinion. The proportion of a single of those rectangles is bad, not to mention the proportion of two of them aligned horizontally. It’s about 14:1. In my opinion this hinders the perception that it’s an actual logo.

  • Cinco Reply

    The GOLDEN RULE of logo design: There IS NO absolute, one-size-fits-all “Golden Rule” or recipe for designing an effective logo. All that matters is that the design fits the product/company (hence the term “corporate identity”). I am, in fact, an advocate of “The Design Process”; you simply cannot go wrong if you stick to it. At the same time, I’m never afraid to color outside the lines. Ultimately, I try to get a good read on my customer’s needs and likes/dislikes–BIG time saver.

  • jack Reply

    Impressive. Example of long and exhausting logo design process :)

  • Brian Terry Reply

    I think there are both good and bad points to this brandmark design.

    The good is the rectangles are a subtle reflection of their product with the rectangles representing the shape of a carryall. It’s a stylish design.

    The bad is when it’s used on a product it could be mistaken for being part of the product design and not the mark of the company.

    That being said there is something very clever going on here because look at the debate we’re all having about this! It seems like the fact it’s a brandmark that doesn’t follow most conventions will help it to stand out and get noticed.

  • Moe Reply

    Its funny that this video exists especially when so many logo designers want to charge $1k- $10k+ for their “intricate” logo designs etc. I do understand time is money, but to over charge people for some of the most simplest designs is mind boggling to me.Although design is important and does take time, sometimes its just something as simple as the new company just wants something so people can recognize them. I really appreciate this video. I shall carry on now.. lol… I dont feel bad for servicing those who cannot afford “Logo Designs” so I have coined the terms pg ( personal graphic) or scg small company graphic. This way the “BIG DOGS” cant whine and complain that I might charge $50-$100 for a simple basic logo design. hmph…

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