At the beginning of 2017, I attended my second PAX South in as many years. PAX is a game development conference here in San Antonio that showcases pro and independent game developers’ work for PC, console, handheld, and board games. Being a board game lover and a graphic designer, I had sought entry into that industry for a while. And since my twenty-year-old son was a dedicated streamer and an advanced player of first-person shooters, I figured three days at PAX would be an excellent opportunity for father-son time.
While weaving in and out of row after row of exhibitors’ booths, my son heard someone call out behind him, “Hey, <team name>!” and turned to find the voice in the crowd. Luck had it that my son was wearing a hoodie sporting the logo of this semi-obscure e-Sports team that one of the exhibitors knew personally. In minutes, I had lost my son to an in-depth conversation with this game designer. It wasn’t long before he sat on the exhibitor’s computer, looking into some issues they were having. By this time, my son had built multiple computers from scratch, so I guessed it had something to do with this particular skill set.
After PAX, my son started serving as that company’s social media manager. Two months later, they invited him to their headquarters in Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada, for what was to be a two-week visit. To our parental shock and sadness, this visit became a year-and-half paid gig as their project coordinator.
Long story short, months before the game’s release, their major funder walked away, causing the project and ultimately the company to end. My son returned, down-trodden but with a wealth of game development experience.
It was the friendships he made there that turned out to be priceless. Flash forward two years, and the two major players in that game development company invited my son to join them in starting a new game and app development company called HiveHub.
By this time, he, my wife, and I were all working from home due to COVID-19, so when he received the invitation, I was right there. I offered to design their corporate logo.
Identifying a Company's Vibe
I’ve spoken about corporate identity design [corporate-identity-design-branding-rebranding] before—the considerations, the pitfalls, etc. I knew that, first, I needed to capture the personality of their company. Did they see themselves as serious or light-hearted? What was their long-term vision? What separated themselves from others in their field? Did that have specific likes/dislikes regarding color, shape, type, etc.?
Once they answered these and other questions, I understood what they wanted: a sophisticated, but techie appeal; to communicate that they were a central source (a hub) for related services; and they were more on the light-hearted side, so long as it was clear that they were highly proficient, confident, and experienced.
The Logo Mark
I almost always start a corporate logo design [corporate-logo-design] with the typeface. Often, I find that because the type is a subtler communicator, if I begin with a graphic or logo mark instead, the type receives less focused attention. It’s easy to mistake that, once I create the mark, I’ve accomplished enough. But the truth was that I had an idea of the logo mark from the moment my son share the name, HiveHub. So, for this logo, I wouldn’t have been able to focus on the type. I had to get the logo mark out of my head.
The hexagon shape of a beehive’s cells risked cliché, but I could see in my mind that the extended elements of the hub would make the mark unique. I presented three concepts along the same lines. To my slight disappointment, they opted for the straight-on, simple treatment. In retrospect, I feel they made the right choice.
The simplest of my decisions for this work was settling on colors. I knew from experience that the mark needed to be honey-colored. While that also risked cliché, the more significant risk was in losing the mark’s meaning. The hex shape must be treated with care since it is common to many industries.
Hex shapes in the different colors can communicate many things:
- Blue: Healthcare
- Light Gray: A net
- Dark Gray: A network
- Green: A fence segment, or chemicals
- Pink: A toy
I could clarify any of these with the addition of another symbol—a bee, for instance—but it’s far too easy to go quaint. Certainly those symbols can be used in conjunction with a logo, as we’ll see in a later post, but I would never suggest adding it to a logo out of concern that, if the company grew or pivoted, they’d immediately outgrow it.
The first type of experiment I attempted failed miserably. I wondered if I could mirror the “V” in “Hive” to suggest the hexagon element I wanted to incorporate. No.
Next, I ran through a few weighs of Brother 1816 until the width matched the mark in the type size I wanted with the mark. I toyed half-heartedly with putting a node element above the I. The result was weak. And I tried to spice things up by elongating the verticals of the Hs. Again, no. The best fit was a direct presentation fo the type.
As is always the case with digital type, I fine-tuned the letter spacing and may or may not have fudged the V’s width after multiple people found it to steal attention.
The Finished Logo
The finished logo, all in all, came together relatively quickly. I attribute the directness of its design to having had a week to contemplate it before receiving the go-ahead from HiveHub.