A wonderful old client of mine from Atlanta referred me for this project toward the end of 2017. This was my last web design project for 16toads Interactive, but the logo and branding artwork fit nicely in with my new direction here at OddBurton, so I am including it as a sample.
Bell Masonry is an family-owned company that has been operating in greater Kansas City for nearly 100 years. They were in the process of going through a corporate restructuring and wanted to overhaul their logo and brand for the future. Their team specified three primary criteria for a new logo: 1) Visually portray "masonry", 2) suggest the idea of a company that has spanned "generations", and 3) make it timeless. These concepts are difficult enough to pull of as individual elements, but all three, in a single mark? This is precisely the kind of challenge I love.
After doing a bit of research I found that two objects appear in 99.8% of all logos for masons: bricks (brick patterns) and trowels. These images are so pervasive that they can be found in nearly every possible design solution down to mimicking the classic Masonic fraternal logo. These images are pervasive because there are literally no other objects that could represent "masonry". My initial pass included bricks, trowels, and a couple terrible attempts to represent the Bell family business with a bell ... and a brick pattern. I threw out those samples almost immediately. And thankfully, my client listened to my rationale for not choosing a bell with brick pattern as their logo.
The only other object that makes sense visually is an actual mason. After doing a handful of initial sketches, I hit upon the idea of drawing a mason from yesteryear to represent two things visually: masonry and generations. It worked. The initial icon was a realistic portrayal of a mason from around the turn of the century. My client liked the idea but felt that the rendering and fonts were a little too "elegant" for his clientele. Their portfolio was broader than the luxury home market and, consequently, he was leaning back toward the bell with brick pattern. I asked him to let me play around with the illustration as well as the fonts to address his concerns.
A Flexible Solution
I'm drawn to logos that provide flexibility for use in different media. A logo that requires an icon to be understandable isn't a successful logo. Nor is a logo that can't be modified to work in both horizontal and vertical formats. The final logo sheet shows how the Bell Masonry logo can be adjusted to work in multiple formats.
After successive passes, I chose a heavy, highly readable sans serif font and simplified the mason icon by removing nearly all of the detail. In the end, my client was absolutely thrilled with the final result. And I managed to create a logo that incorporated all three of the elements they requested: masonry, generations, and timelessness.