Our Brand was recently contacted through the LinkedIn network, and asked if we would be interested in creating a new logo design for the Southwest Louisiana Lodging Association. We really enjoy working on logos (and some folks think we're pretty decent at it), so we jumped at the chance to help this local group put a face to their name.
Right off the line I knew that this was our kind of project. Midge Singleton, the President of the SWLA Lodging Associaiton, was friendly and very informative. She knew what her organization was all about, and was able to very clearly present a vision for its future.
We discovered that there was actually no existing logo in place for SLLA. We also learned more about the Association, which exists to be the regional voice for the Southwest Louisiana lodging industry, primarily representing hotels, casinos, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds. I felt that these four sectors would be key in the development of my initial idea, which was to play on the mobile map markers that we see in Google Maps, and MapQuest. Midge was very receptive to this idea, so away we went.
I sketched out a few ideas on how the "reverse tear drop" might be used, then worked directly with my wife, Michelle Parker (a talented designer in her own right), to craft a design that would be simple, yet effective as a complete branding system for the Association. Michelle took my all-to-literal interpretation of the map markers, and created a shape that was unique, yet easily identifiable when used in context of the brand trappings.
Michelle was able to take my initial direction, and edit my sketches, bringing the icon together in a way that really seemed to worked. During the design process we thought it would be interesting to come up with a modular design, where the mark would change from application-to-application. Our thoughts were that if the core elements that make the design truly work remained intact, then the design could shift while retaining a strong brand signal. Essentially, we weren't just designing a logo—we were designing a branding system.
Once we felt that we'd created the variety we were looking for, I was tasked with creating the style sheets that would show how we envisioned the new mark working in this new system. As a rule, we always include style sheets as part of our logo-pack service. I took a bit more care with this particular set. The nature of the modular design allowed for a wide variety of possiblities. The more I worked with the style sheets the more I realized the potential that this new mark had.
I am very proud to say that this mark was approved without changes. We submitted the logo presentation to Midge, and very shortly we had a green light from the SLLA executive board. When this happens I always review a project to see what made things go so smoothly, and here is what I've determined:
- First, we have to know what questions to ask. The old saying, "the only stupid question is the one you don't ask" definitley comes into play here. When you're trying to create a brand you have to first understand what makes it tick. Get a notebook (or an iPad). Take good notes. Everything is important.
- Second, you need an organized and receptive client (and friendliness doesn't hurt either). In this situation, Midge Singleton was both. She knew how to talk about her organization, which is how we were able to clearly see the four sectors that SLLA represents. This was tremendous help to us (thank you, Midge).
- Third, you have to listen to your client's input. Obviously, it's our job to steer the project in a way that is going provide the most effect, but your client's input is extremely valuable (and they are the client). It's always important to remember who you're working for, and our Brand always tries to do that. In fact, with this project, the client recommended a color palette and we were able to make that work without a lot of trouble at all. We were actually very pleased with their color choice, which echoes other travel and hospitality entities in this market.
We plan on filing the Southwest Louisiana Lodging Association project under "WIN" in the Parker Brand archives. It was a win for us, and based on their response we're going to say it was a win for the Southwest Louisiana Lodging Association as well. We're looking forward to seeing their new mark in play throughout the region, and marking the spot for travelers that have thier route mapped to Southwest Louisiana.