I always present my logo clients with a design brief consisting of 15 or so questions which helps give me an idea of what they are looking for, and it also helps them possibly think of things they hadn’t yet considered. Obviously, the more detailed and in-depth the answers are, the better I am able to hone in on a solution for their logo.
John and his dad, Michael, started making amplifiers together a few years back and that’s how the company, Granger Amplifiers, was born. Guys like those guys freaking blow my mind…my little, non-engineering, non-mechanical, non-lefty brain. Guys like my dad, and my brother, and my grandpa, and my uncles. I’m not sure how I managed to come from such a long line of mechanically-minded-fellers and ended up with not even a tiny inkling of that technical prowess. Dangit.
I atleast have resources and know who to call when I truly botch something up and need to fix it.
So, back to Granger Amps…here’s a little backstory and logo specifics provided by John in the brief:
Granger Amplifiers is a small amp production company bringing quality, handmade audio products to musicians and music lovers alike. They are focused on delivering the best experience through clean designs and superior sound and tone…blending the best of old school simplicity and the latest technology, resulting in a unique, yet approachable product.
Target Market: High-end audiophiles and musicians, both studio and traveling.
(Guesstimated to be mainly males in their 20’s and up.)
- Important Logo Attributes: Attention to Detail / Quality / Clean / Simple / Iconic / Unique
- Imagery: Lightning bolt and/or symbols from electronic schematics
- Colors: Red or royal blue
John, on his dad’s interests and beliefs: My father is a huge NASA nut and of 70’s Progressive Rock (Genesis, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer) and I’ve always thought of him as being ahead of his time (hence the Nikola Tesla interest) and I want our company and logo to reflect those things. He believes that things were made with much more pride and class in decades past and we want to bring that back.
Fun fact! Michael’s best friend was Ambrosia’s keyboard player, Christopher North. Back in the early 70’s, Michael hand-built his own synthesizer and the guys in the band caught wind of it and asked him to record on their first album. He created custom sounds for them to use and is actually playing on two tracks on the album!
So, I centered in on the lightning bolt and knew that it was going to have to take precedence in the logo. But I felt the challenge before me of marrying the fluid/unbridled feel of the 70’s with the clean/simple/high-end image John was desiring to project. His love for the lightning bolt gave me hope that we could “pay homage” to his dad’s love for the 70’s…and still reflect the clean and simple attributes he favored by choosing the perfect font for GRANGER. The lightning bolt is also similar to the zig-zag type marks in the electronic schematics, so we could somewhat “kill two birds with one stone”, here.
The “N” is (conveniently enough, for this purpose) the center of GRANGER. You can make all kinds of meanings out of this, but the simplest is that it’s just the core…the heart…the springboard of why and how John and Michael do what they do. (It also works out for us that it’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Boom.)
So…here we have it:
I presented it to John, and he and the family loved it. They loved it until…well, let’s back up a minute…
One thing that I have never thought to include on the design brief is this: “If you are a brand new company, have you researched your company name for any duplicates in your market?”
Why have I never included this?
(Any designers reading this, feel free to chime in here. Do you have it on your brief? It seems logical. I just never had it on there for some reason. Doh.)
But, in this instance, had I included this simple question, I could’ve saved myself and John and his family tons of time. Needless to say, it is now part of my design brief. And if you are a designer reading this, take heed. Learn from my mistake. Make it part of yours. It is a critical question to ask.
So, after presenting the logo to John, his sister Google’d Granger Amplifiers. Yep. You guessed it. There’s another Granger Amplifiers that was here before we were.
Down in Alabama, so….name change.
So, John came back with a couple of options for a new, non-duplicated name:
We both agreed that Elberon was it. Elberon is the name of the street that Michael lived on growing up. So, it was another super fun way to pay homage to his past.
I didn’t feel like working a lightening bolt into ELBERON was going to work like it did for us with GRANGER. We got lucky with the center of that one being an N that also doubled nicely as a lightening bolt. I knew the lightening bolt was still the answer though because I knew what John wanted to project. We just had to figure out a new approach with this new name.
The word Elberon has a soft phonetic flow. Go ahead. Say it. See? Now say, Granger. It’s more structured, right? More rigid. Hard. (Don’t read too much into it…it’s the sound of that L. L’s always soften things up a bit. Llama. Lollipop. Leotard. Lorelei. Lallapalooza. Lemongrass. Lily. Lincoln Logs. Loincloth. Errrr. You get it.
Because the feel of the word was just different overall, I felt a script type instead of a tough sans-serif would work well. I experimented with working the lightening bolt off of the L, but it just didn’t feel natural, so I played with working it into a semi-understroke of the word. It flowed off the end like an electrical cord of sorts…and naturally flowed into a lightening shape. I gave it a “fatness” and “curviness” to help deliver that 70’s feel. And AMPLIFIERS had a perfect place to sit, centered between the bolt’s edge and the left side of the E.
John and his family loved it. I was thrilled that they were thrilled, and I was a better designer for having walked down this discovery road (Elberon Street) with them.