MMC Lifestyle Coaching

This logo project came from a woman who had started her own lifestyle coaching consultancy. You want to improve your career, your social skills, your love life? You call her, and she helps you create a plan, then works with you over the course of several weeks or months to execute that plan. At least she did - it looks like the website is no longer live.

My client wanted her business's logo to show the qualities of strength, growth, power and potential (makes sense, right?). The company name, as you may have guessed, was based on her initials. I did some sketching and type work in Freehand, and came up with five original concepts for her:

This first one was a little impractical - that hard edge on the right, where the "M" and "C" hit, creates a nice opportunity to work with the negative space on other uses (business cards, letterhead) but without something to the right to give it balance, it looked too heavy on the right - and with something to the right, like the "Lifestyle Coaching" descriptor, it was too linear and would take up too much space or require it to be significantly shrunk to be used.

This second option came from some sketching. I sketched a kite, then drew two lines symbolizing gusts of wind lifting it up (get it? potential and growth?). The gusts were initially a second color and they looked harsh and heavy (I'm pretty sure wind is not supposed to be heavy) so instead I cut them out of the kite shape, adding little serify-shapes at the kite's edges to give the gusts a little more emphasis. The client liked it - she also pointed it, it looked like three cats. Nothing wrong with that, though.

This third concept was a pretty straightforward representation of power - probably a bit too straightforward, and either the client or I (can't remember), after reviewing it, felt it looked too masculine. It probably needed more subtlety, too.

This one was meant to show growth - I was thinking of Best, that chain of stores that went out of business about ten years ago. It's nearly impossible to find a logo - googling "best" plus "retail" or "store" just brings up lots of "Best Buy" images. But I remember seeing that logo when I was younger and thinking it was weird - each letter was a little bigger than the next. Then I read an interview with the designer, who said that was meant to show the quality of "best" - the "T" was the largest, and therefore (I assume) the best letter in the logo. Never noticed that before. I think it worked better here, with the two M's - the second M was the improved version of the first. That kind of left the C stranded, though - and the colors wound up being too feminine. I could have changed the color scheme, but that wasn't necessary because the client liked this concept most of all:

That doorway in the space between the serifs won her over, and this is the logo she chose. I was cool with it - I think it represented her company best (ha ha). Her only request was to darken the blue, which I did (see the top of the post). And then we were off to the races (never spoke or typed that phrase before - it feels weird).

After we finalized the logo, she applied it to the website (which I didn't design), and I developed business cards and a letterhead template for her. Here's the card:

Such a formal logo seems to require, to me at least, a centered treatment. Or, at least, you can't go wrong with centering. As I always do, I provided her with logo files of different file formats, resolutions, and color styles - a two-color version and an all-black version. I believe she used the all-black version for t-shirt embroidery, though she had it stitched in white on blue shirts, which looked pretty sweet.

When I opened my Zazzle store a year ago, I started looking at all of these unused logo options I'd created over the years. Since the client only pays for overall development and the buyout of the final logo, but not the unused options, I'm free to use these as I please - and I have. The type-based logos obviously are too specific to work, but the image-dependent concepts were cannibalized for business card templates and other products.

I think Zazzle's strongest feature is its ability to allow customization to its products through a very user-friendly interface. And while that feature works well on t-shirts, hats, bags, and other promo-type products, I find it's most useful on business card templates.

The way it works is, store owners like me set up card templates. I upload, size and position the image, then set up the lines of text I'd like to include. The typeface, color, size, position of the text are defined by me as well. Finally, the templates are tagged with keywords like "growth", "strength", "potential" - words appropriate to the design that help potential customers find a template that suits their needs.

Once a customer finds a card template they like, they fill in their information in a form field and the thumbnail of the card is updated on the fly. This is very helpful - the customer instantly sees exactly how their final card will look. If it's allowed by the store owner, they can delete text fields, move and resize the logo, pick a different typeface and color - but my experience is, most of the users trust the design and use it pretty much as is. If they were interested in designing their own card, they'd probably have done that instead. Maybe they even tried to do so in Word - if they did, my guess is they ran away screaming.

There's an ethical debate in the design community about these kinds of templates. Some designers say that providing custmoers with pre-made options that they can buy in (for example) 100-pack for as little as $20 or $30 plus shipping (the price depends on the percentage the store owner sets - I set mine at 30%, in case you're curious) impacts the need for design services. Horse pucky, I say - I can virtually guarantee you that anyone paying such a tiny amount for a card with a pre-made logo is not going to consider spending upwards of $2000 for a full identity design. It's inconceiveable (just watched The Princess Bride last week - couldn't help it).

As an example, my biggest seller by far is a fitness logo targeted at personal trainers - sometimes I sell a couple batches per day. I very much doubt that a personal trainer working out of a gym with a handful of clients, is going to want or need to contract the services of a designer for their logo and identity system. Maybe a few superstar trainers will go that route, or those expanding their services - but for the most part, the people who use these templates are happy with something that looks nice and represents them well.

The downside for these customers is that anyone else in the world - even their competitor in the same city - could be using that same template. And they don't have the ability or right to use the logo anywhere on their own - they're only purchasing the finished cards - nothing more. If they were to scan the card and use the logo? Well, for one it would look horrible. And it would also be a legal violation of my rights. That would be bad - I hope it never happens, though I doubt I'd find out about it if it did.

And not to toot my own horn, but I haven't seen anyone else use a Print On-Demand site to create a full line of customizable products with the same images, as I've done. Maybe I just haven't run across them yet, but I do a lot of browsing on Zazzle. Each of the logos in my Business Products product line is available on t-shirts, baseball caps, canvas bags, mugs, keychains, buttons, mousepads (do people ever get tired of giving away mousepads?), and the card templates themselves. This way, a small business owner can get a few customized shirts for themselves and their employees (if they have them), or they can buy the other items for office use or for promotional giveaways. It works out nicely - I've spent many hours setting up all of those templates, but now they're available for purchase - and I have sold quite a few. Passive income is nice.

So here are two of the unused designs from this project, transformed into business card templates. At this point, I've sold a few of the lightning bolt template, but none of the kite. Maybe it's too abstract for people, even though I mention the wind gusts in the item description. Perhaps I should market it to cat lovers instead.

Kite/Wind Business Card Template
on Zazzle

Lightning Bolt Business Card Template
on Zazzle

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