In many ways, the process of designing the new Sunquest Information Systems logo and overall branding was similar to the process that many corporations or individuals employ when rebranding. At Sunquest we began with introductory Q & A meetings including the important stakeholders to discuss overall goals, determine the general feel of the logo (serious or whimsical, classy or cutting-edge) determine a particular logo style (wordmark, iconic symbol, a combination of the two, or a more illustrative approach) and predict all or most use-case scenarios for the logo. Myself, along with the key stakeholders, knew we wanted the new logo and brand to represent an emphatic statement about our commitment to making health care smarter and patients safer globally through diagnostic innovation. In addition, we took into account that Sunquest is a market-leading, global organization with a community-wide approach and is focused on innovation. The primary takeaways discovered in the initial Q & A meetings, along with other aspects, had a direct relationship to the final logo design.
From there I embarked upon a detailed level of research: analyzing the market and analyzing key competitors in that market. A graphic designer can be the best logo creator around, but odds are, that same designer is not a market expert in all or even most of the segments of the vast market at large. For the Sunquest logo, much research was done looking at other healthcare-related corporations, specifically ones in the LIS (Laboratory Information System) and HIS (Hospital Information System) segment. However, in addition to researching the direct market segment related to Sunquest Information Systems, I conducted research on the much broader category of software technology organizations. While Sunquest is specifically a corporation focused on laboratory information systems, more generally it is a technology company that creates software. In this specific case, the broader approach to the market and competitor research contributed to a much larger pool of ideas, concepts and looks.
Then, I began with some initial designing, first rough sketches, then early digital mock-ups based on some early font choices. Visual brainstorming and creative generation of multiple concepts, with very little censorship of ideas was my goal at this stage. Bold typefaces, thin typefaces, both bold and thin typefaces, iconic symbol before the wordmark, icon after the wordmark, no iconic symbol, only an iconic symbol with no wordmark, horizontal shape or square shape (a vertical shape as a possibility was eliminated in the introductory Q & A). I was satisfied with many of the concepts created in this early stage, but I also understood that the very best design solution usually takes multiple rounds of iteration.
Next came the first round of design revisions. At this point there were not any definite winners, but the key team members were ready to indicate the looks, fonts, colors and concepts that were not to be used, thus narrowing down the potential candidates for the branding. Several dozen potential concepts were reduced to a half-dozen or less fundamental potential designs to further iterate upon. This is where multiple variations on a select few primary logo themes or concepts can be expanded upon.
Existing as a large organization with many different stakeholders, an expected two or 3 more rounds of iterating and design revisions took place. The process is much like what is described in the prior paragraph, but with each additional round of revisions came a more narrowed focus on what was to be the new look. Theoretically, I may have created half a dozen great looking and acceptable logos, but 6 great logos are 5 too many. There can only be one (and possibly a few variations on the main logo for specific use-cases).
At this point, my pool of potential logo designs all centered around a wordmark the contained both a bold and a thin version of a clean yet warm, modern yet friendly and readable sans serif font combined with a simple, yet effective graphic element occupying space to the right of the wordmark itself. The graphic element is a small perfect circle in a dynamic, almost neon-looking yellow/green. For the wordmark aspect of the logo I chose a gray color with a subtitle hint of blue. The hint of blue adds personality, differentiation and complements the vibrant secondary color of the logo.
Sunquest’s prior logo had a set of 4 squares that were meant to represent “pixels.” However, for the most part, the squares of the prior logo look just like, well, squares. Also, having 4 rather large yet, different-sized, squares representing pixels of a computer monitor is a concept that, while viable in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s, represents a dated concept here in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century. Today, display screens are ubiquitous and common and the pixels on those screens are so minuscule in size most people would not, and probably should not, comprehend the symbolism of squares representing pixels. I understand display screen technology fairly well, yet the squares in the prior logo representing pixels was a bit of a cognitive stretch even for me. In addition to the dated concept, the square shapes of the old logo, with their fixed, straight lines created a feeling of stiffness, inactivity, stagnation of flow and lack of movement—grounded and earth-bound, if you will.
As indicated above, the square elements of the prior logo were replaced with a single, unifying circle. From the micro level of atoms and molecules to the macro level of planets and stars, the circle or sphere represents the notion of totality, integration, wholeness, unity and perfection. Circles and spheres tend to project an emotionally positive message—they are friendly and fun. The shape implies an idea of movement and mobility. The circle is also a symbol of a very specific star, our Sun—Sunquest, it is elevated, atmospheric and celestial. Personally, the circle or sphere is my favorite geometric shape. With the abundance of rectangles and squares seen in visual design, I try to use it as a differentiating design element whenever possible and appropriate.
In large corporations, the logo designer is virtually never the sole decision-maker on the final logo design. The decision comes from the group of key stakeholders and if a single entity does pick the design, that person is usually the President/CEO of the company or a key board member of the corporation. At Sunquest, with the final half dozen logo designs created and fully fleshed out, all strong in their own unique look, it was up to the key stakeholders, Including the VP of Marketing, and the company President to make the difficult decision of picking the one logo to move forward with. It was decided to be diplomatic about the selection, and Sunquest allowed 10 key stakeholders and myself, to vote for their favorite logo from a pool of 6 potential candidates. Virtually all of the balloters voted for the same design, therefore the decision was uncontroversial and almost unanimous.
Once the final logo brand was picked, then an entire different set of creative projects ensued—the technical implementation of the rebranding. Odds are, if your logo designer is not a freelancer, they are the same person that will, at least in part, also be responsible for applying the brand across all corporate assets: websites, applications, products, print collateral including letterhead and business cards, posters, product brochures & whitepapers, email signatures, computer desktop backgrounds, PowerPoint templates, all social media outlets, case studies, video and product demos and testimonials, customer-facing training materials, newsletter templates, advertisements for both print and web, promo items and signage—building, tradeshow, vehicle and the list goes on and on. Not to mention additional marketing, PR and roll-out directly related to the rebranding. The truth is, much of the real work starts just as soon as the logo rebranding is complete.