Last year I was offered the opportunity to work for Replay Photos, a little company located in the heart of the historic tobacco district of Durham, North Carolina. Replay Photos has a website that sells licensed photos of most college, university, and some professional sports.
The offices were in a 100 year old renovated tobacco warehouse called Brightleaf Square. The famous Durham Bulls ballpark, Duke University, and all sorts of cool bars and restaurants were within walking distance. I don’t work there any more, but I will always have fond memories of working in such a great city.
When I checked out the website, I knew that I had an opportunity to really help with their branding. The site looked like it had not been redesigned since 1998. The logo was just some type over a bar with more type knocked out. The colors scheme was a muted light blue with accents of light tan and grey. Unfortunately, the logo didn’t communicate a story or meaning and the color scheme wasn’t very warm or inviting.
After working at Replay for a couple of months, the design team was discussing the website over lunch, when inspiration hit. Chad Stewart, the Art Director, had an idea revolving around the common replay or rewind icon. You can see the replay icon on CD, DVD players, and at the end of web videos. It is usually represented by a triangle or arrow circling around and pointing to the left. After kicking around some other ideas, we decided that the triangle or arrow, somehow combined into the Replay name, had the most merit.
After that lunch, it was hard to keep from thinking about that logo idea. Even though we had plenty of work, our minds couldn’t help from thinking of logos. We first started sketching on Post-it-Notes, but soon turned to the white board and created versions of each others ideas. When we came to a great idea, we turned to the computer, and fleshed out the idea in Illustrator. The cross pollination between Chad and I was infectious! We would pin up each logo and contemplate them while resting our eyes between our daily tasks.
The time in between designing the logos became a huge and beneficial part of the process. Without fail, approaching the logo with fresh eyes the next day, gave us the ability to detach ourselves from any particular design. That detachment was so important to this process. Inexperienced designers have a hard time detaching themselves from an idea. Ideas are hard to come by and good ideas take hard work. But sometimes, a designer needs to step away and look at the design from a fresh perspective.
Another unique part of this process was having a partner. This process, part collaboration and part contest, really pushed both of us to stretch our concepts. We were critical and helpful with each other. Sometimes, I would watch Chad working on an idea, and that would give me a great idea! When inspiration struck, we would draw sketches on the whiteboard. We would have a graphical conversation, drawing versions of the same idea. We often would sketch iterations of the other designer’s concept, constantly refining and pushing the idea.
The final logo is the logo at the beginning of this article. I would categorize this logo as an “initials” logo. The R and P stand for Replay Photos, yet convey the concept of replaying a great play or sports moment. This logo wouldn’t have made much of an impact if it wasn’t for the great name of Replay Photos. The photos they sell are a captured moment, a replay of that spectacular event.
As for the colors, we choose the color primary yellow after the call-to-action button on our website. Charcoal was chosen as the background color. We wanted some contrast to make the yellow pop, but not too much. We didn’t want our logo competing with many of the different sports logos represented on the site. White was the perfect complement to the primary yellow.
This might be my best logo design to date. Many different things came together to make this happen. First was the great name, Replay Photos. Any other name would not support such a great concept. Second, the sketching process, which pushed the concept in many directions. Seeing different possibilities allowed the best solution to become apparent. Third, my experience with design. My training in design started many years ago and continues to this day. My most valued skill is an ability to step away from a project and approach it from a different point of view. Being self-critical is an acquired skill, honed by discipline, and polished by experience.