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Color Logo Theory
By Steve Walker

Today, class, we are going to talk about creating a logo for your haunt. Let's face it; the first thing people are going to see will be your logo. "But Steve, I don't know how to draw!" You won't have to. (Much.)

Before we get into the how-tos of logo creation, let's go over some of the whys. Your logo will be the first thing people see - in ads, T-shirts, on stickers, flyers, maybe even your personal car. This is where you make first contact with potential customers. Using simple lettering for a logo, could easily cause the logo to be overlooked; or in the worst scenario someone could think it's a cheese ball place and not worth their time or money. However, if your logo reaches out and grabs the viewer; that alone could be enough to convince them to visit your event. Why is that, you ask? It's a little thing called "professionalism."

Your logo helps with your overall image. The stronger the overall image, the more professional you look. You don't have to run huge numbers of people through your doors or have a huge budget to look professional. At the same time, a professional image could also give those involved with the show a great amount of pride and satisfaction, which in turn helps create a loyal staff. It's one thing to stand back and say, "We had a pretty good turn out this year," but it's another to say, "We Rock!"

Another reason for using a logo that grabs attention is the "recognition factor." Your logo should immediately give the viewer an idea what and who it's for. Today, we live in an icon-based society. When we see the golden arches - we eat; when we see a big lit-up shell - we fuel up. Your logo should say, "I want to go there and get scared."

Then there's the marketing aspect of the logo. If your haunt has a creative image and the show to back it up, your logo can drastically increase attendance to your event. It goes back to professionalism. People are more apt to buy from the pro than they will from a "wanna-be." Whether you're looking for sponsors or selling tickets, the professional approach is more successful.

Are we all on the same page here? Good! Now let's get on with the fun part of actually creating a logo.

Creating a logo can get frustrating. The decisions that are made should not be taken lightly. First thing you need to do is come up with a name for the event. It's harder to do than most people think, and there just happens to be an article in this issue on "Branding," to help you chose a name. Your event name should try and fit what you do. Grab a thesaurus and start comparing words. Get input from others. Don't be afraid to be creative - a name that might sound a little lame could still inspire a cool logo.

For sake of example, let's use something that you'd think couldn't possibly have a cool logo. How about Joe Bob's Outhouse of Terror? (Anyone that's traveled I95 will be able to relate!) Think it can't be done? Let's find out!

Now that you have a name, sit down and think about what you want the logo to say about the event. Should it be over the top? Would people find it offensive? Would it look cool enough on a T-shirt to make people want to wear it? Will it shrink down and reproduce well? Could you see yourself using it permanently? Think of every usage aspect of your logo and who is going to see it. Your success could depend on your thoroughness. In some ways, choosing a logo is like getting a tattoo. You want to get something cool, but at the same time you have to be able to live with it forever. "Why forever?" Recognition factor! Once you have established a following for your event, changing the logo is like starting over fronm scratch.

Once you have a good idea of what you want, it's time to get started with the image. The first step is to work on the rough draft of the lettering. Your lettering style or font will always be the base for a successful logo. Look through different fonts and pick those that might work for the theme of the event. Be careful; if you use too different many types of fonts, it will look cluttered and unorganized. An unorganized logo looks unprofessional. If your name is long, (such as in our example), you can probably get away with three different fonts. Names with less wording may look better with only one or two fonts. You can get fonts from a variety of sources. There are a ton of online places to get them, and many are considered freeware. Font disks can also be a good resource. Don't see the perfect one? No problem. Use the one you like the best and tweak it to what you need.

A good way to tweak lettering is to print out your idea using the fonts you have chosen in the size that you wish to use them. Take a sheet of tracing paper and trace the letters, making any changes as you go. It doesn't have to be perfect. You may want your lettering to look like other things - bones, wood, stone, or body parts are some creepy options. Now that we have our lettering (Example 1), we can move on. For some of you, just having the lettering will be enough. If you're happy with what you have, great! That's the important thing. Others may want a little more and to add some imagery.

If you add imagery, be sure not to over do it. Too much artwork can be a distraction. If you have a specific character your haunt is based on, you may want to place he or she in the logo. If you run a hayride, you might think about using jack-o-lanterns with cornstalks at the ends of the haunt name. If you run a horror circus theme, add some evil clowns. The possibilities are endless, but keep with the theme of your event. It doesn't matter if you can draw or not. You just need to be able to relay your idea and get it down on paper. At this stage, stick people, lines and circles can get the point across. This is still just a draft. If you can't draw and you see something cool that you might want to use, get some pictures of it for later reference, but don't go for an exact copy. After all, someone else took the time and effort to create that one of a kind logo for themselves. Take the time and have something original created for you. (Most of you know how it feels to have your ideas ripped off; think how that guy is going to feel if he finds out.)

The next thing to consider at this stage of logo design is whether to use black and white, full color, or both. Your budget and your personal tastes will determine this. Black and white can be just as effective as color if done properly, but if you don't think you have the extra budget to run full color ads and print full color T-shirts, that money could be better spent elsewhere on your show. This to goes back to professionalism. If your logo looks like a million bucks so should your show!

Once you get the draft up to speed (Example 2) and you or your organization thinks it's awesome it's time for the final draft. For those that can work in 2D, this won't be a problem. Some of you won't be able to do this part and that's ok - you don't have to. You've already laid down the groundwork for the logo and you should be proud of yourself for doing that much. If you can't draw, you'll have to find someone to take care of this for you. If you have a kid in high school, they may know some budding artist that might be willing to do the work for free just for the exposure. There could be an artist in your crew that will finalize the logo to support the show, or you can also choose to hire a professional artist.

No matter whom you take your logo ideas to, make sure you see some of the artist's previous work before you enter into a contract with him. I can't stress this point enough. If you don't like what they do or feel uneasy about using someone, then don't use them - even if it's free artwork. It's not worth it in the long run. Another thing to remember is no matter where you take it to have the final draft created, be sure that person doesn't pressure you into changing your mind. Suggestions may be made to make it better. Listen to the artist's suggestions and think about what's said. If the artist has experience, he has knowledge you don't, and can be a valuable tool to you. He may not want to take anything out, preferring instead to move things around and change some of the design's emphasis. Have the artist do a final rough to show what the design is going to look like before the final design is started. If there are any problems, now is the time to discuss and fix them. Once everything is finalized and the artwork is complete, you have a new logo. (Example 3)

As you can see, we've taken our off the wall idea and made it stand out. If you saw this on a shirt, you'd be curious as to what it is. You may even have to check it out because it's so completely different.

This is just a base for you to expand on. The same principles can be applied to create a logo for anything. If you get frustrated during the process, remember you can always put it down and come back to it later. Just make sure you come back to it.

Remember, your logo will be the first thing people see, and needs to leave a lasting and positive impression. It needs to reach out and grabs the viewer, enticing them to visit your event. The logo must present a strong, professional and creative image, while not blowing the budget. A professional logo will help create a loyal staff full of pride and satisfaction. Don't settle for having a "pretty good turn out this year," put these methods to work and let you event Rock in 2003!

Steve Walker is a Logo artist for Necropolisin Indianapolis, Indiana and can be contacted at necropolis_haunt@yahoo.com.

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