The Falcons, a men’s rec-league hockey team in Calgary.
One day I got an email from a guy named Graham who was a friend of a past client. Graham said that he belonged to a rec-league hockey team called the Falcons, and they needed a new logo.
Their budget wasn’t huge because they play for fun, not money. But I love sports design and the opportunity to have a logo of mine embroidered and used on real hockey jerseys was irresistible. So Graham and I amicably negotiated a deal that worked for both of us, and then we got to work.
Graham told me that the team used to be called the “Aluminum Falcons”. He sent me their old logo…
…and told me that they had dropped “Aluminum” from the name.
So right away he gave me a solid strategic foundation: he wants a falcon, and he wants it to be integrated with the letter F. This is a classic approach. Maybe the best example is the Hartford Whalers logo, one of the best logos of all time:
Then Graham gave me another design parameter:
It’s common for amateur and junior hockey teams to use professional jerseys as templates. These are the Islander jerseys that Graham’s team had picked:
So now, in addition to “falcon” and “F”, I have orange and blue to work with.
It’s nice when a client has some idea of what they want–especially on small projects like these, where efficiency is critical. Graham left me with this last bit of art direction:
Graham has good taste. Lucky me!
Building our falcon
I began sketching ideas for falcons integrated with the letter F. It’s always a good idea to sketch before touching the computer, because drawing by hand, whether or not you’re a master renderer, offers unmatched spontaneity and fluidity.
The solution didn’t take long to identify: the falcon’s wing doubles as the upper bar of the “F”, the tail for the lower bar, while the feet and head complete the rest.
Then I moved to the computer. In Adobe Illustrator, I fleshed it out with vector graphics, playing around with the shape of the wings, feet, claws, alignments, etc.
Once I streamlined it into something presentable, I showed Graham the logo in different color combinations:
When a client gives you a general direction and a few specific parameters but leaves room for invention, you usually get a positive result like this. It’s more difficult when a client gives you no direction (“I’ll know it when I see it!”) or, at the other extreme, gives you so much direction that you’re essentially just a tool in their hands.
Graham had a suggestion. Personally, I enjoy when clients jump in with ideas like this:
I hate to admit it, but I hadn’t thought of the Atlanta Falcons logo before I created my “falcon-F” logo. (I’m Canadian: I’m more of a hockey fan…)
It should’ve come up in the research. Always do your research! Nevertheless, I dodged a bullet–I hadn’t accidentally ripped off their logo. (Note how my falcon points left, and theirs points right……..the same concept can have more than one unique execution. Ideas are worthless. Execution is everything!)
But to the point: Graham’s wanted our falcon to feature the kind of dynamic wedge-like “shadings” seen in that and many other sports logos. So, I made that addition:
Meanwhile, I still owed Graham another concept.
The alternate falcon
Clients almost always want to see more than one option. I suppose it has something to do with psychology. Think about it: a big part of the fun of buying anything is choice. What do we get on our pizza? What color car do you want? Where should we go for a holiday?
I created a second concept, this one a falcon not doubling as an “F”:
Graham had expressed doubt about the “cartoon character holding a hockey stick” approach (“too common”), so I gave him two sub-options: with and without a stick. (It does look cool to wrap a falcon’s claws around it!)
Due to the tight budget and the first concept being a probable lock, this second design was a bit of a throwaway…a one-dimensional, rough-draft illustration that didn’t quite rise to the level of a “logo.” But it did its job by providing choice and suggesting an alternate route. If they had liked it, I’d have been glad to push the concept into a great logo. It’s typical to give 3-4 unique concepts, but sometimes you have to work quick and dirty.
No surprises here.
The home stretch
Returning to the first concept, Graham asked if we could make some little “feather-cuts” to the edges of the wings, as well as:
He even provided a helpful visual
After making these revisions, the final step was to settle the colors:
Graham picked the blue falcon (far left and far right in the image above). He felt that it would work best on both the orange and blue jerseys.
By the way: a logo-design fundamental is to ensure that your logo works in one color, i.e., black on white. Here’s how the falcon holds up in a one-color format:
And that was that! I sent him an EPS (vector) file that he could send to his printer, and my work was done.
The Falcon takes flight
Some time later, I got my filthy paws on some great photos of the Falcons in action! As someone interested in getting into sports design, it’s thrilling to see my design on actual hockey players:
The final word from Graham:
And the icing on the cake…