In NMAC 3145, over the break we were tasked with coming up with a logo for ourselves and our ‘Brand’ using the website Canva, which is a free to use design platform that I highly recommend. I confess, I struggled with this one because I really DO want a brand logo and I’ve never managed to come up with something that really fit, because I’m crazy picky and not a graphic designer.
My very first ‘brand name logo’ I tried to make for myself when I made my first short documentary was shot down by the professor for being too ‘silly’.
I wanted to make my production brand Gay Pirate Productions, and this was my very super basic logo. Why, you may ask, did I want to brand myself Gay Pirate Productions?
There are 3 reasons:
- I love pirates
- I love queer people (though I’m bisexual, not gay)
- It fits the trend of your “Bad Robot” and your “Mutant Enemy”, which are very recognizable production brands (JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon, respectively), two-word, memorable, simple brand name theme . Also, Gay Pirate wasn’t already someone’s production brand which I find INSANE since it’s such a fun name.
Personally, I’m still pretty attached to that branding and tbh the Logo isn’t bad either for 20 minutes, google images, and photoshop.
However, that was for my film-making and, as I said, my professor at the time shot me down for being silly (not shocking, he was a boring guy who had no sense of fun). For this assignment in NMAC 3145, I need to make a brand for myself as a whole, because I am involved in more creative endeavors than just film-making, most notably my writing, and even beyond creative endeavors of that nature, I’m slowly but surely becoming more heard-of in the film and TV review communities online (obviously I’m still a nobody, but there are peers with far more well-known and established reputations who I talk with and who mention me and get my name out, so it’s slow but sure).
Basically, I need a brand and logo that makes me recognizable in multiple potential fields, not just my creative endeavors, but potentially professionally as well.
It took me forever to decide what I wanted the wording to be, because in the past I’ve gone with just ‘A JCW Production’ and used my initials, but I don’t really feel attached to that because JCW is a pretty common set of initials, I’ve found (I have a friend named John Casey Wells, for example). It took me a long time to decide on the one I did in just using J. Chelsea.
Since I was in middle school, I have been signing things J. Chelsea Williford. My signature on anything is not Janna Williford, but J. Chelsea Williford because I’ve never gone by Janna. I get sick of people calling me Janna, too. It’s normal, because when they read my name on anything official it says Williford, Janna C. It’s only natural for people to assume my name is Janna. However, once I’m done with school, I want to try and move away from that. I want people to recognize my name.
Yes, my twitter is @JannaWilliford but that’s because there is a girl in Texas named Chelsea Williford and I know this because every time she signs up for something, FOR SOME REASON, the emails come to my email@example.com account. I was lucky enough to get an email address with just my name, only for a teenager in Texas to sign up for online accounts with my email address. (I also get emails from her school choir instructor on my firstname.lastname@example.org account. It’s hilarious.)
So I picked J. Chelsea, because it’s recognizable and it’s a name I would use on everything. Anything with my full name says J. Chelsea Williford. I had never seen someone who used their first name as an initial, but as an adult I’ve come across some authors, and some filmmakers, but it’s still pretty unique to me in everyday life.
My very first attempt is still my absolutely favorite of the bunch:
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The colors of the sky works so well with the background, that font is perfect because I write my J’s that way, so that instead of a line all the way across the top, I just go far enough before doing the downward hook, and it says everything I want it to. The color purple, beyond being my favorite color and beyond being both the pride color and the ‘blend’ color for the bisexual flag, is one that is used to symbolize wit and creativity, and when I’m writing or film-making, the creativity of those endeavors is symbolized by the color purple. Also, the person looking up at the galaxy symbolizes moving forward into the unknown, making unknown advancements, reaching out beyond the limits of the imagination, and simply taking a leap and breaking the mold to try and do something brand new. Also, it has to be noted, I’m a space nerd so SPACE!
However, as beautiful as that is, as much as I wanted to just go “There, done!”, there’s something really important…. it isn’t really a logo. It’s more of a banner. It’s beautiful, but that is not an effective logo.
The goals of an effective logo aren’t just originality and memorability, which this has in spades, but to be recognizable in multiple formats. I checked this in small format, and it works as a tiny logo, so I was hopeful. However, when you check it in black and white it’s utterly useless. The stars wash out into the name, which blends into a bloom of white with black speckles and lines around the outsides. It’s utterly useless in black and white. Also, as loathe as I am to admit it, it’s just too busy. It’s beautiful, but it isn’t a good logo.
So, I decided to nix my beautiful, wonderful, magical night sky motif and just go for a different color to go within that pattern:
Better, right? It’s still got the cool, edgy look to it and, though the space symbolism is totally lost, the texture and colors still lends towards the idea of a creative brand and it’s just as versatile.
In the small-scale test it worked better than the first, but in the black and white it once again failed. Even without the space-scape messing it up, the lines of that pattern still just don’t work in black and white. I wanted it to so badly because it’s such a beautiful logo, but it’s just NOT a logo. It’s more of a banner, like I said. It would be great for an advertisement for J. Chelsea but it just isn’t a logo.
At this point, I was really stumped. I was back to square one, almost, and I was feeling pretty downtrodden. I didn’t really have any other ideas, and even with all of Canva’s versatility, it just wasn’t giving me options I wanted.
Then, it came to me.
When I was in high school, I have no idea why or how it started, but I would always draw this symbol on the margins of papers. It was a jagged heart with a line through it. It wasn’t like a broken heart or a heart with an arrow, it was just a scratchy heart (because I’m a terrible artist) with a line through it. I wrote it on EVERYTHING. I have no idea why, other than the fact I’m a doodler even though I can’t draw, but I did.
So, while Canva didn’t have the options to recreate that heart exactly, I designed something more modern but still similar. This is the result:
It feels so incredibly basic, and I can’t love it the way I do the original, but to be perfectly honest, that’s a pretty good logo. I stuck with the font I liked and the color I liked for the heart, and I almost made the strike through a different color than black, but honestly, this works better as a logo.
The goal of a logo is to be simple, recognizable, memorable, and be all those things in small form, large form, or black and white. This logo does those things. It’s also still very versatile. Yes, I lose a lot of the symbolism I wanted, but it works. The color I was able to keep, and the cleanliness of the design is superior to that of logos, honestly. I would love to tweak it in a program with more options than Canva, I would like the heart to be shaped differently, I would like the strike through to be longer in either direction, but overall I’m happy with this logo.
My audience for the J. Chelsea brand is supposed to be very broad because J. Chelsea could be on a documentary film, a fiction film, in a book, on a critical review, a watermark on a photo, on some social commentary on global economics, the list just goes on and on. So I can’t aim at just one audience. I need something that’s recognizable and memorable for ALL the potential audiences I could have.
I think with some work, I could make this into a logo that I could love, and maybe one day I’ll have the program and the artistic ability to do just that. Logos change over time, so for now, as a starting point, this logo works just fine for me.