All About Paddling is a Brisbane-based company which offers individual and group canoeing and kayaking lessons. When I first met with Allana, the owner, I was struck by her passion for her business, her wealth of knowledge about canoeing and kayaking, and her care for her clients.
From the beginning, we talked about how this logo will help establish the business as a professional entity. The client had worked with lots of clients without having a logo. A recognisable, professional logo would encourage her existing clients to stick with her, and her potential clients to know about her.
It will be a representation of a hobby which people can identify with, and feel like they belong to. So they'll want to display it on their car or their shirt, creating stronger brand recognition!
We also discussed that the logo will appeal mainly to women over 40, as well as schools. In order to do this, it will convey elements of the client's fun, caring personality. And because of her decades of paddling experience, it will display a strong sense of being established and professional.
When I began design work, all these goals had been marinating in my head for some weeks. So it was great to start sketching and to get everything out!
My initial sketches consisted of my learning about the structures of canoes and kayaks. Because the client's family owns Rosco Canoes & Kayaks, I felt the weight of creating accurate images for the logo.
So I studied. I studied the vessels and paddles on the Rosco Canoes & Kayaks website; I Google searched, and I sketched. With my sketches, I wanted to create the simplest, most recognisable forms possible. So I tried to sketch accurately, and minimally. Then I refined and simplified, playing with including and eliminating different elements.
The client was initially thinking of including the name 'Bold Adventures' on the side of each boat, so I drew the boats from a side angle to see if that would work. But the shapes were awkward to incorporate with the text elements, and required more detail in order to make them recognisable. So I decided to sketch them from a birds eye view instead. Now they were symmetrical, and similarly shaped, and I had a lot more surface area to play with to show that they were different boats.
From there, I concentrated on finding the best possible layout. In order for the logo to be recognisable and memorable, it would need to be simple. But we also had talked about including lots of different elements (illustrations of boats and paddles, long business name and tagline). So I wanted to find the sweet spot between complexity and simplicity. I sketched, and sketched, and sketched.
Somehow I ended up with sketches that looked like surfboards, swords, and rockets. But through all of the crazy drafts I found elements which worked well together.
I was particularly inspired by this logo below, and thought I could try incorporating a canoe and kayak paddle in a similar shaped illustration:
At first, I tried to incorporate everything into a circular logo - it's so nice to have everything neatly contained in a circle. It's classic, but also fun, and it works well at small and large scales. I tried lots of different ways of using a circle, and... they all looked crowded. Even when I broke outside the edges of the circle, the elements seemed squished in, rather than happily nestled together.
So I decided to separate the illustrations and text, and have an emblem logo. A collection of smaller illustrations above - a kayak with its paddle, and a canoe with its paddle; with All About Paddling below.
While I was working on the emblem design, I was mindful of the tension of conveying a sense of fun and caring, but also a feeling of the brand's history and level of experience and expertise.
A few layouts that I came up with represented the history well, but didn't look fun! They had too many harsh lines, and the elements were too disjointed.
Finally I arrived at this design for the emblem. It was the simplest design I'd come up with, and the most connected-looking. I know that the client values the connections that she build with her clients, so I wanted the logo to represent that.
It didn't look stuffy, but it also didn't look childish - it was a good balance of everything! I kept the lines very minimal, only including what was necessary to identify the boats and paddles.
At first, I wasn't sure whether to incorporate the tagline into the emblem, or to place it underneath the logo. Either way, it would be about the same size and equally easy to read. But as I experimented more with the emblem layout, I realised that the tagline would be more recognisable and striking on its own, without any distractions around it. So I decided to place the tagline underneath 'All About Paddling', in a font.
I then made a good copy of the emblem. There were several elements I wanted to really refine in order to make it shine:
I experimented with a few different oval layouts, but they just looked too sleek, and not spacious enough. But I still wanted to keep the elements nestled together. So I used an oval to determine the angles of the paddles, but a circle to give a more spacious layout for the kayak and canoe.
I decided to shade the blades of the paddles. This allowed for me to use white space on each of the blades to represent sunlight falling on the centre ridge of the blade, and provided contrast with the paddles.
Another thing to consider was which direction the paddles would face. The canoe paddle, being assymetrical, looks almost like an arrow shape. I wanted this to 'point' upwards to the right, because lines sloping this way are more psychologically pleasing to the eye than lines sloping downwards, or up to the left.
In my early drafts, I experimented with different ways of shading the simple kayak and canoe shapes. I could colour them both mostly black, both mostly white, or have one light and one dark. In order to emphasise the difference between the boats even at a small scale, I decided to keep the kayak mostly light and the canoe mostly dark.
I placed the kayak above the paddles and the canoe below.
Originally I'd thought that it would be best to have the canoe on top, since it's Roscoe Canoes & Kayaks, not Roscoe Kayaks & Canoes. But it was more visually balanced to have the kayak on top, and the canoe underneath.
The lighter, sleeker kayak floats well on top, and the darker, wider, heavier-looking canoe provides a secure grounding for the bottom of the emblem.
For 'All About Paddling', I knew that I wanted to use tall-ish lettering style to convey a sense of modernity, and also to economise on horizontal space so that the logo appeared more cohesive. I decided on a sans serif style with slightly rounded corners, to maintain a sense of simplicity and softness.
I also coloured in the text in a textural way to suggest a more handmade, rugged nature. I wanted it to look polished and professional while maintaining a sense of rustic charm.
I then made a good copy of the emblem, shading it in a similarly rustic way to the text.
The next step was to digitise these two elements, combining them to form one cohesive logo. And also adding the tagline! So I used Photoshop to clean up and straighten the text, and then Illustrator to vectorise and combine the elements in the most aesthetically pleasing, balanced way.
I centred the emblem above the text, keeping it small enough to look like an emblem, but large enough to retain its detail at small scales.
I also swapped the positions of the kayak and the canoe - when combined with the text, it looked more balanced to have the pattern of dark - light - dark with the canoe on top, kayak underneath, and All About Paddling underneath that.
The final step was to add the tagline - I chose a font which was modern, simple and sans serif to complement both the text and the simplicity of the illustrations. But it was also unique enough to look interesting and adventurous.
If you're looking to have an authentic, raw, handmade logo for your business, I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to contact me to discuss.