It’s time for a logo. You may not feel a logo is that important. That it may cost too much do make professionally. Wrong. You need an image to help guide your story. Whether it’s a honey badger or a bumblebee, a tribal sun or a little lamb, a five-color graphic ready for printing on shirts or a hand drawn sketch by your beloved, we all need a little totem to guide our thoughts. A logo isn’t just a recognizable little drawing. A logo sets the consistent experience for everyone. A logo sets the tone for the whole brand.
You can do some research on similar events to see what they do, but use that knowledge to do something different. You don’t want to be one of a million. Eventually your logo becomes your entire story, even if it has no bearing on what you do. Example? Starbucks. If you look at their past logos, they were intricate and advertised what the coffee shop was about. Now? There’s a giant green mermaid logo slapped on the side of my grocery store and it means, “Come inside to get delicious and consistent coffee treats and pastries from a company started in Seattle that set off a coffee revolution and is now conveniently in your market.” Starbucks wins at branding with a mermaid: the last thing you think of when you think “coffee.”
An early event company we ran called “Nimble Creative” ended up with a goat balancing on a stick as their logo. It was preposterously cute, but was based on something. It was how goats in the Middle East got up into trees to get leaves. The company name came first. Then when the logo got designed, it worked. We didn’t need the logo to have running and biking in it, which that company mainly did. It just needed to be something we could hang our hat (or goat) on.
Evolution of an event logo:
We put on some of the first mud run / obstacle course events! But, because of this, we didn’t really know what kind of personality we wanted to give the event, so we went with what was popular at the time:
2011 – commando-style/boot camp. No real logo, just stock photo of a badass lady crawling, camo, aggressive text. This is pretty common for event start ups in terms of design and 1st attempt.
The following year, we reviewed what the actual feel of the event had turned out to be, and it was a lot more festive than badass. People loved literally wallowing in the mud and having a good time, so I designed a new logo: “Happy Pig.”
He’s got his thumbs up, he’s popping out of mud kinda like Porky Pig, the colors are brown, pink, blue and white. Evokes water, fun, but like . . . clean. I chose a more festive font.
And then while this event absolutely was “happy pig” we realized that to sustain it, we’d need to capture the evolving audience of hardcore OCR people who were looking to truly be challenged. Truth was, our event was every bit as challenging and well constructed as the “big” obstacle course races, but happy pig and the fun feel didn’t appeal to them.
Enter, “Oink Oink, motherf*cker.”
Similar color scheme, but black plays more strongly, there’s a more core font choice, and the pig isn’t giving you thumbs up anymore, he’s about to take you. The pink and the black are like a mullet: serious in front, party in the back.
It looked awesome, but we actually decided that while it was profitable, it was a ton of work and we saw the trend of obstacle course racing dying out and got out while the getting was good. Our logos were neat, though.
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