Mixminion is an anonymous type:III remailer. It allows users to send e-mail to a server which is then routed and e-mailed to the desired party. This keeps personal information secure and tracking e-mail senders almost impossible to do. I was approached by someone who is a part of the project (and a friend) to design the logo.

I gave it about a month to brainstorm and come up with ideas for the logo. I was in the middle of a few projects and there was no real urgency for the design. This can be the worst and best deadline. The worst because sometimes, the client is never satisfied or the designer is never satisfied.

I once had this client who I signed a contract with – it went sour. The contract was supposed to have a due date in which time I would provide unlimited revisions. Since I was new to the design business, I allowed the due date to not be specified, resulting in unlimited revisions over an unlimited timeframe. Too bad I signed the contract. The money sucked for the logo design, but as I said, I was just starting out.

About 3 months into this project, I provided over 20 logos and got frustrated since the client was never satisfied. The client actually used my logos on his site and I found this annoying since it appeared as though they were happy with a specific design. I decided not to provided anymore logos. I was able to get 75% of the contract paid and fired off an e-mail stating that I refused to design anymore logos since they may never be satisfied since I may be working for free. A week later, I received an e-mail from the client threatening legal action if I did not repay 50% of the contract price. This really aggravated me so I fired off another e-mail stating the flaw in the contract dealing with unlimited logo revisions and no deadline date. After a few more tense e-mails, I told them to take me to court if they pleased, knowing that 50% of the contract price would be about 2 hours of legal consultation time. So, I never heard from them again. I was also able to make them take down all of my logos from their website. I definitely will not allow myself to get in such a situation again.
Alright, so I started with some sketches (about 2 hours of fun) (click to view large version):

Sketch of alien 3Alien sketch 2Alien version 1

And ended up with the following after messing around in Illustrator for about 4 hours:
Mix Alien 2Mix Alien 3Mix Alien 4Mix Alien 5Mix Alien 1

In the end… guess what… I hated them all. There are way too many colours, too many symbols, and just too much going on. A logo should be easily referenced and processed by people. The logos remind me of an anarchist alien trying to cook up some destruction. The client wanted something sci-fi dealing with mixing or email imagry. Fair enough, a chef alien mixing an ‘at’ sign with a mixer in a mixing bowl with an M is what I derived. The colours I was using were red, yellow, greys and cyans. Time to apply KISS.

I decided to clear my mind, grab a bit to ear and get back to the grinding wheel. Logo design can be the hardest design task anyone will have to perform. I was able to come up with something smashing in the end! Read on…
There are a few rules to live by when performing a logo design:

  • KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
  • Limit the number of colours (1 to 4 is what I go by – preferrably 2, like black and another colour)
  • Will it be a text logo, image logo, or image/text logo?
  • Use one or 2 central symbols for image logos
  • Think about sizing (will this logo be blown up to be a few stories high? Or is it only for the web?)

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Do some research into the market (for the product/service) the logo will represent
  • Start with a typeface, colour scheme, character, image or shape for direction
  • Try not to over do it – someitmes the best logos can be drawn in a matter of seconds (this relates to the KISS rule of thumb)
  • If you’re drawing blanks, take a break and do something unrelated (this can be applied to other things if you catch my drift 😛 )
  • Write a list of symbols or words that are related to the logo (often given by the client)

After boiling around for ideas, I came up with an alien chef. The colour scheme will be cool (blues and greys). I like the angular touched and the cyan since the current Mixminion website has a lot of boxes and cyan as the most pronounced colour. This resulted in the following logo:

Mixminion Alien Winner

Post some feedback for me on this creation. I would appreciated it!