Brand Identity and the Art of Doodling

How did I get into this crazy business anyways?

Sometimes I wonder how I ended up doing logo designs for some of the top brands in the world. Well, I remember that I was a chronic doodler all the way through elementary school and into high school. I couldn’t just sit there without sketching heavy metal band logos, weird faces, World War II tanks and planes and poisonous snakes. It’s a wonder I didn’t get into more trouble but I think my teachers thought I was furiously scribbling useful notes. Uh, Nope. Just doodling a bunch of crazy nonsensical stuff all over my notebooks.

So recently they’ve come out with studies say that doodling is good for you. According to the Wall Street Journal “Recent research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts and retain information. A blank page also can serve as an extended playing field for the brain, allowing people to revise and improve on creative thoughts and ideas.”

In the WSJ article, Sunni Brown, an Austin, Texas, author of a new book, “The Doodle Revolution,” says it can affect how we process information and solve problems.

SBC Sketches aka doodles

So there I was — the doodler. Actually, I got pretty well known in high school for some of my drawings and people would ask me to draw stuff on their notebooks. Mostly this evolved into renderings of cartoon faces, guitars, drum sets, muscle cars and funky lettering of slogans like “Rock on!”. In the early days, I got my inspiration from Mad Magazine, album covers and airbrush paintings on the sides of vans. Eventually, I studied art history and fine art — getting a degree in painting and printmaking and then another in Graphics & Packaging at Art Center College of Design. So there is a way to legitimize all of the doodling. And there is a way to parlay all of that into a career as a logo designer. I was lucky enough to start my career at Nike and eventually become a creative director at Capitol Records.

DDW logo designs

Fast forward a couple of decades and developing brand identities is something we do every day. We work as a team of designers, informed by brand strategy and surrounded by smart, enthusiastic marketing minds who want to solve brand storytelling through the art of the logo. That’s right, a bunch of doodlers with a bunch of brainiacs. All in this anchored by the logo. The logo needs to be able to stand alone and communicate the personality of the brand, product, service or company.

Great logos bring to life an emotional response that gives your customers a window into your brand story.

Great logos get people to buy products, join clubs, cheer for teams, get tattoos. A strong logo might look clean and simple but convey powerful ideas. The psychological effect of a logo may be related to the role your product plays in the life of your consumer. Think Nike. Every client would love to have a swoosh for their brand. They might not understand that Nike has massive advertising budgets, legions of rabid brand enthusiast (sneaker freakers) and has heavily invested in celebrity relationships, influencers and demand generation marketing. They spend billions annually to make it all come together.

So all hail the power of the mighty logo. Big and small.

Sketchbook Doodles

So all hail the power of the mighty logo. Big and small. Widely distributed and marketed – or not. We love all of the great “brand marks” out there that were created with blood, sweat and tears to bring a brand to life. We’ve created a few of those ourselves, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

— ROSS PATRICK, Executive Creative Director – DDW SF

Ross cut his teeth as a designer at Nike, became head of advertising and design at Capitol Records, and eventually worked his way into the big advertising leagues, becoming SVP Director of Design at Deutsch LA. He has directed creative for many large clients including Nike, GM, Microsoft, TGI Fridays, DIRECTV, Old Navy, Tesco, Mitsubishi Motors, Anheuser-Busch, Sprint and Starbucks. Ross is currently the Executive Creative Director at DDW – heading up the unique visualization lab that blends creative, strategic marketing and consumer insights to create brand personality across all platforms.

Special mention to all the designers who contributed to the design of these logos. I may not have touched all of these directly as they represent work that was done at DDW over the years. I have a lot of additional logos that I’m adding to our Facebook gallery. Stay tuned.

Ross Patrick Logo Designs