Why Logo Design is Like Home Design

My college sorority sister, a graphic artist named Julia Lupine, designed the first Karen Rapp Interiors logo way back in 1986.

Yes, we’re turning 30 this year!

And, as you can see below, Julia’s logo design featured some classic elements of an interior design project (the furniture and fixtures).

I’ve always been proud of it:

 

Karen Rapp Interiors first logo

 

In fact, the original Karen Rapp Interiors logo was featured in a coffee table-style book about branding. And, as if that wasn’t cool enough, in the book, the KRI logo appeared right across from Esprit logo! That’s how good the original was, and you don’t mess with something that good (at least for 30 years or so).

As I explained to Julia at the time she was designing my logo, I wanted my brand to embody a classic style. And I wanted it to be as timeless as possible—just as if I were designing my own home.

I wanted the brand to be simple and yet sophisticated, to represent what I did (interior design) and to make it easy to update the colors—just as though I were updating the paint color on a wall.

What’s more, I wanted the design to possess an element of intrigue. And, depending on how you look at the original, you might just interpret it as an intriguing gallery wall of images.

So, like all good design should, our logo has stood the test of time.

In 2012, when we launched our website and social media platforms, we combined the elements of the original logo to create this vertical logo.

As you can see, we also updated the color palette:

Karen Rapp Interiors logo - 2012

A New Chapter after 30 Years

Now, as we celebrate three decades in business, the team at Karen Rapp Interiors is ready for a new chapter.

Our small team will be moving our work spaces out of my home and into a new studio space next month. A space all our own. A space that’s about sophistication and simplicity—just like our brand, and just like our logo. (More on our new address later…)

So, in preparation, it’s only fitting that we assess where we’ve been and where we’re going.

That’s why I hired a marketing consultant, Jill Henning, to help me with PR and branding advice and project management. As we embarked on our rebranding, Jill wanted to know about my vision for the KRI brand, what success looks like to me, and how I think my clients and the Arizona design market perceive our brand.

She wanted to see every piece of our existing brand identity and client-facing materials.

And she wanted to understand how our business is transitioning from printed materials to showcasing our designs online.

So, as I shared with Jill the history of our logo, we both wondered if this might be a good time to refresh it. So Jill introduced me to her graphic designer colleague, Eve Gonzalez, and we clicked immediately.

 

Presenting the First Draft

During the first review of several logo options, Eve did something very smart. She knew that I would like details . . . that I would appreciate knowing how she arrived at the final recommendations.

And Eve was right.

Being detailed is something that I typically enjoy in my job, so knowing Eve’s thought process helped me make a decision. There were nuances in the details that only a graphic designer would understand and that, as a layperson, I would never see.

I really loved her initial concepts, but the one thing I was a stickler about was the color palette.

So Eve got out her tried-and-true Pantone Matching System® fan deck, and I got out my tried-and-true Farrow & Ball® color book. I showed her the four paint colors that most resonated with me, and we matched them against the PMS colors used in the printing world.

Jill was there supporting us, and she snapped this photo of our collaboration:

 

Eve Gonzalez Karen Rapp Logo Design

It took just a few iterations to suss out the colors and logo image elements, and, overall, it was a very quick process. We started in February and did a soft-launch of our new logo in March.

Gosh, if only a home remodel would go so quickly!

Here’s a before and after:

Old logo vs new logo Karen Rapp Interiors

 

Why Logo Design is Like Home Design

Some of you might question the comparison, but, having just gone through the process, I now feel confident in saying that designing a logo is in fact a lot like designing a home’s interior. I know that the logo design—just like, say, a kitchen design—needs to be great and “in vogue” for a long period of time, at least for a decade.

And, just as in interior design, getting the branding color palette right is key.

For example, at KRI, we’ll integrate our four logo colors into our other collateral: an all-green logo is for invoices, a blue version is used for proposals, and a yellow logo is used for orders. And we’ll use various branding “spot” colors in our PowerPoint presentations, note cards and envelopes, letterhead, etc.

Also like home design, we needed versatility with our logo redo. With the solution we agreed on, we’ll be able to separate the logo graphic (called a “bug”) and use it for certain mediums, such as social media and smaller projects, like fabric labels and our note cards.

Thanks to Jill and Eve, we have a new branding standards guide to help us keep everything in check.

 

How to Choose a Designer

With the process of redesigning our logo so fresh in my mind, following are few tips for any business professional seeking the best approach to hiring a graphic designer.

(Honestly, the process is similar to choosing an interior designer).

First, ask for referrals from trusted sources (as I did with Jill). If you already work with a marketing expert or agency, he or she will have experience and a great source of contacts.

Then:

  • Make sure to meet the designer face-to-face, so you know it’s a great match. Even if you’re not local, you can still use a virtual video conference like GoToMeeting, Join.me, Skype—even FaceTime.
  • Review the designer’s work portfolio and understand his or her process.
  • Get a quote based on all aspects of the project. Discuss the number of revisions you’ll be making and what the hourly rate is if you go beyond the scope.
  • And, lastly, work with your designer to paint the vision, but then step back and give the designer the room and space to work his or her magic!

 

So, tell us your thoughts! What do you think of our new logo? What other advice do you have for taking on a branding or home design project? Please share your comments below.

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