Saturday, March 1, 2014

King ME...Adventures in Mascot and Logo Design

Had the privilege of getting the assignment to design a mascot/ logo for the entertainment production company Young Lion Productions.  They are best known for producing the film, "The Harimaya Bridge" starring Danny Glover.    The client wanted something that was nostalgic of his youth.  In this case his high school's mascot.  So the mission was to turn this image:

Into what you saw above.  While the original has some crude appeal, something more sophisticated was in order.    Designing a mascot or logo requires a lot of discussion and mediation as it should impact the viewer emotionally and psychologically.    Personally, I gravitate towards a '3D' and animation sense of design.  (I guess what is called the "Disney Style")  

My first pass looked something like this:

Looks like a distant cousin of the Exxon Tiger, haha.  But though the Exxon Tiger and characters like him in the old days had a lot of pencil milage and detail, they did have a certain kind of warmth in their appeal.  This is in contrast to minimalist design we see today which works essentially as a pictogram and has pure function in just communicating an idea-----but arguably can be "cold" to the viewer.  

The client passed on this one as it lacked some of the impact the original design had with the oversized head.   This Young Lion perhaps wasn't young enough. 

My next pass resulted in something like this:  

Here I decided to be quite literal with redesigning the mascot but it's more of a refinement than anything.    I wanted to stick with the  "traditional animated" character look.  My argument was if Mickey, (the mouse of course)  can get away with being a corporate logo, why can't our little guy?  But,  more to learn.....

Viola!  Here's our mascot/ logo in his final and inked form.  I did away with the tongue (perhaps not dignified for a king) and the tuft of chest hair as it basically interrupted the viewer's eye traveling along the figure.   Client was happy.  

BUT..... This wont' be the final design.  While our little friend is big on appeal he might not be the best candidate for the company's main logo.  While I did my best to simplify the character, there might be problems reproducing it at very small proportions.  Of course everyone knows that a good logo should be able to be reduced to the size of a dime and still be recognized at six feet away.   It made me think...Mickey Mouse's ability with getting away with being so recognizable as logo goes beyond simply being three circles.  

There are several versions of Mickey Mouse obviously. Some just for animation, some just for graphic illustration and some that are specifically for logos.  There are some Mickeys that at a reduced size work extremely well and look perfectly "normal"  but if you enlarged them, they would look grossly distorted and off model.  

It's not the end our friend but will have to go back to the drawing board.

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