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Inside the Design Process of an M3 Creative Visionary

Every beautiful logo, formatted document or aesthetically pleasing PowerPoint that comes out of M3 Group has been graced by the artistic prowess of one of our creative visionaries. We all appreciate the color, intrigue and balance they bring to the work we ultimately present to clients, but have you ever wondered how they do what they do? What is the method behind the magic?

Kathryn Aspin, who joined the M3 team in the spring of 2021, sat down for a quick Q&A on what goes into the creative process of graphic design. 

Kathryn Aspin – Creative Visionary


Let’s say a client comes to M3 and needs a logo. Where do you begin?

I definitely draw inspiration from the information found in the discovery process M3 does to learn more about a new client or project. I think the discovery process is really important to designers because we find out more about the client.


How do you choose which colors to use?

If I was going to pick a color and the client says during the discovery process they want organic or nature, I will focus on blues and greens. But I always like to give them a wild-card option, because I think sometimes they don’t know what they want until they see it. They might be more inspired seeing something they hadn’t thought of before. That’s happened in projects before, where a client ended up liking the wild-card option. So that would be how I approach choosing colors.


Do you have favorite colors to work with?

I tend to lean toward blacks. I like starting in just black because it’s a good way to see if the logo is working, and then add color later. I also like to use Adobe Color, where you can create your own color palettes based on complementary colors or compound colors or shades. I like using that to see what works best with the logo or the design.


Do you usually start with the colors they already have, or do you start from scratch?

I start with black, and then I always do something that the client is expecting or wanting. Typically, I try to present three options: a safe option, one that pushes them a little bit and then there’s another one that’s way out there that they might not pick. Clients tend to pick the middle option because the “way out there” option sometimes may scare them, but sometimes we’re lucky and they pick that option.

I think their brand descriptors are very helpful. Having those words clients use to describe what they are and what they aren’t are even more important than some of the longer explanations of what they do. If they want to be seen as powerful, you’re not going to give them muted pinks and blues. You’re going to pick more powerful colors and fonts. Or if they want to feel inviting, you might include greens and blues. I take those words they use to describe themselves and use color theory to match.


Where does take color theory fit into your process/philosophy?

I am a creature of habit in that. I tend to choose a lot of sans serif, but that’s also because that’s what’s kind of in right now. I also feel like their brand tone and the brand descriptors influence the best choice for font style.  If their brand wants to be funky, I can get a little bit more exploratory with the typeface. If they want to come across as strong, modern and forward thinking, I’m probably going to pick a sans serif typeface. If they want to be seen as trustworthy, multi-generational and there’s a little bit of history behind the brand, I would go with more of a serif typeface. So, the main issue is how I want the logo to feel and how those typefaces feel to me. Sometimes the client might think of them a little bit differently.


How do you decide whether to design a logo with primarily text or graphics?

Some clients might just want a wordmark, and they don’t get even a little graphic. Wordmarks aren’t my strong suit, because I’m not a hand letterer. But it’s not to say I can’t. I came across an infographic the other day of all these very well-known logos, and they were very well-known typefaces that were just altered a little bit. Sometimes that’s all it takes, just putting cuts in different spots, or rounding out corners, or connecting letters that weren’t originally.

A lot of people when they think of the logo, they think of the little logo mark. People tend to get caught up on what the logo mark looks like, so they’re not as concerned about the word portion. Others don’t want a logo mark at all. They might just want just their initials. So, a lot of these kinds of preferences come out during the discovery process. You find out what type of logos the client might like or what they’re thinking. At the same time, we’ve had situations where the client thought they wanted a wordmark and a logo mark, but then they ended up with a wordmark because they realized they needed something different than what they initially thought. So, it’s tricky.


What should a client bring to a discovery meeting when wanting a new logo for design?

I would want a client to come to the discovery meeting as an open book with any information about how they want to be represented, who is their target market, what do they want to convey, etc. We want to know who the client is and how to best represent that in the logo. What do they love what do they hate, the more we know about the client the easier it is to create a logo specific to them.