In Joe’s last post, he talked briefly about our “Does Your Logo Suck?” contest winner, Mustaches for Kids Boston (M4K Boston), and showed you their new logo (in a fancy time-lapse video). In today’s post we share a little of what went on “behind the scenes” to create the logo.

We always start with research—a discovery process to learn about the client’s mission, activities, and their “brand promise” from the perspective of the organizers, contributors and recipients who benefit. Added to the mix: shortly after we selected M4K Boston, the national M4K organization asked if we could design the logo to easily translate to all their regional organizations and still work at the national level. This added an extra level of complexity to our design process—making sure we had “fixed” elements that wouldn’t change, and elements to be customized for each—but made perfect sense from a national branding perspective.

When you create a logo, you put some special talents to work, like the ability to see into the future (stay with me, I’m mostly serious). We needed to consider all the ways the logo would be used. In addition to the letterhead and website, it might be copied, faxed, output on office color printers, adapted for local charity program booklets…you name it. So it had to look good in black-and-white and color, large, small, and everything in between. We may even need to create a special “small format” logo for cleaner small-scale reproductions with fewer lines so the ink wouldn’t plug up (a common logo adaptation and something we did for the M4K logo). It also had to be readable at a quick glance and still hold its character for the regional organizations. All this before we even got to the “art” of the logo, getting it to capture the essence of the organization.

For this logo, we wanted to embody the era of famous mustache styles, when handlebar, pencil, English, Fu Manchu and many more styles were all the rage. Today, it’s not so much the style, which makes growers stand out all the more and brings attention to the cause. The logo art style, typeface and colors all had to conjure visions of men in bowler hats and knickers, at carnivals or riding oversized bicycles. We modeled the format after distinctive beer labels of the period, and wanted a format that worked in one form only—no vertical or horizontal variations, which can detract from the brand. We moved into sketches with this vision…and yes, we always start with sketching as it’s efficient in getting ideas on paper and it helps a logo evolve naturally.

Then we did something rare for an ad agency: we showed interim sketches of logos to the client. We believe in using our time efficiently, want their work to progress quickly, and want to make sure we’re on the right track before committing to full computer executions. They also got the benefit of seeing logo ideas without color and all the details, so we knew we’d captured the “big picture” of their concept without getting caught up in the executional details.


We then moved on to full execution for client feedback and approval. After final revisions and fine-tuning, we created a group of different format files for different uses, including black and white, reverse (or knocked out), web and more. Be sure to watch for the new logo soon for Mustaches for Kids Boston – an organization (and mustache) we truly stand behind.