Foundational Branding Kickoff

“Work? It’s just serious play.” - Saul Bass

“[A logo] derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job right off, before an audience has been properly conditioned. Only after it becomes familiar does a logo function as intended; and only when the product or service has been judged effective or ineffective, suitable or unsuitable, does it become truly representative.” - Paul Rand

“75% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand that they feel is simple.” - Ad Age

We take a few days to scour the earth and internet for inspiration. Interesting shapes, logos, photos, colors, attractive compositions, you name it. Thought Merchants and the client both collect imagery together to create a moodboard. This moodboard defines the universe of possible visual solutions for the logo.

Moodboard Walkthrough

Thought Merchants presents an immense moodboard of found items. We talk through what items we find most appealing, others that are less successful, really just get into a good conversation about the material in front of us. This exercise is about understanding the visual space together, finding what shapes work, and practice sharing our language of describing visual elements together. It is much easier now when we are not looking at your own mark. Later in our engagement we will be talking about tiny tweaks while having different emotional attachments to the designs. Getting a conversational baseline now only helps us create better work together.

Start with the Mark

Our goal is to create a foundational visual identity system that identifies your company. The logo is the keystone to that visual system. We start work on the mark first. A logo needs to be:

  • Start in black and white
  • Distinctive
  • Visible and scalable
  • Universal and usable in any medium
  • Memorable
  • Timeless

Thought Merchants starts by sketching and working different shapes and typefaces. A lot of this work happens in illustrator, a whiteboard, or tracing paper.  

Add Color

During the moodboard and mark exploration we start collecting colors, palettes, options. We start discussing different possibilities from the very beginning. Color does not normally dictate a brand direction but informs the mood and tone of the brand.

We identify a primary color, a secondary accent color, and a tertiary background / ambient color. In practice we quickly find a primary color direction and slowly iterate on different shades as the logo becomes more resolved.


A typeface is the foundational element of any brand. The single easiest way to tell your brand story is through a cohesive and distinctive typeface. Your logo is an identifier that persists in only a few locations throughout any brand interaction. A typeface is pervasive throughout any and all documentation. A simple but effective typeface is the most powerful brand multiplier.  

All Together Now

Combining possible logo designs, with their brand colors, and typography into actual deliverables is the final step. Brands don’t exist on a flat white background without context. Your brand exists inside context at all times, business cards handed to friends, web sites with valuable content, PDF whitepaper documents, stamps on envelopes. We want to explore our best brand possibilities on different medium to help you understand their role on different material in different context. 


After seeing our new brand play on different medium we take the last week to make tweaks, iterate, stare, and share with friends.

Deliverables + Process

  • Visual research - 1 week
  • Moodboard Presentation
  • We get together to go over our visual research findings and discuss the visual landscape in front of us.
  • Initial Design Exploration - 2 weeks
  • We design at least 3 different logo design directions and present them to the client 
  • Initial Design Presentation
  • We present at least 3 different logo design directions for discussion.