The Logo Design Iceberg

by Darren Schwindaman | Principal / Designer

Iceberg Photo by Anders Jildén

We all know about an iceberg analogy for different things: You can see 10% of something, but 90% is hiding underneath the surface. This is an overview of the branding design iceberg: how all the hidden parts are so important and result in what you see above the surface.

Existing Equity

Whether you’re a startup or a 100-year-old business, your customers will have a preconceived idea about you. This is equity. When everyone flips out after a big company redesign, like The Gap logo from a few years ago, that’s what you’re seeing. Sometimes a brand needs a shakeup, so tossing some of that equity can work. However, the difference a professional uses is that those decisions will be part of an intentional strategy, not just happenstance.


What space does your organization occupy within the spectrum of choices a client has? How are you disrupting their expectations? Or, do you want to look more like you belong within an industry or pricing tier? This is positioning. This helps give an intentional rationale for decisions. Before ever committing to visuals, I want to know if your wealth management firm is tech-focused, people-focused, safe or taking big swings. In a crowded space, positioning can help your brand anchor space in the audience’s mind.

The Support

The biggest misconception we see with clients is that everything has to live within the logo itself. Brands you encounter every day, like Target, Old Navy, and Apple have very simple logos. What makes them long-lasting, recognizable brands isn’t really the visual quality of the logo, but its usage within a considered system over time. Every single interaction, from a simple business card to a vehicle to in-store graphic installations are opportunities to extend and flex the limits of the look of a brand.

The logo is not the entire brand, but is more the bassline that connects everything. Google’s wordmark is very clean and iconic, and that serves as a foundation for a sophisticated visual system that connects Search, Maps, Docs, Chrome, and all the other products in their family. You know when using them that they all belong to Google.

The Iceberg

A great brand forms from the equity, positioning, and usage over time. Working with a branding design studio like Creative Distillery ensures that you’ve got a professional on your team worrying about what’s underneath the surface so you and your customers can enjoy the view above the water.

Want to make sure you're getting your iceberg's worth of thinking for your brand design? Contact us to talk about your new or existing organization.

Case Study: Return on Investment through Content Marketing

by Julianna Pardue | Content Copywriter

When I began my role as a copywriter at Creative Distillery in October of 2013, one of the first projects was blogging for Memphis Invest, a family-owned turnkey real estate investment company. Writing three posts a week, combined with less frequent, more in-depth articles, I’ve written so much about investing in real estate that I’m thinking I might be pretty good at it myself some day!

More important than my possible future as a real estate investor, however, is what I’ve learned about the value of blogging for our clients.

Growing & Connecting with the Audience

Ultimately, the goal of blogging is to provide readers with information that they find useful, entertaining and memorable in a way generates conversions and engages the audience. As a project, blogging is a lot like social media management — it’s ongoing and demands regular research, innovation and experimentation.

Through our use of strategic SEO integration, relevant topics and thoughtful presentation, Memphis Invest not only is seeing more blog views now than ever before, but a significant subscriber base, too.

When Creative Distillery picked up Memphis Invest as a blogging client in June 2013, the blog was receiving an average of just over 2,000 views monthly. As of October 2015, we’re averaging over 13,000 monthly views!

Turning Traffic into Leads

Posts by CTA click
All this traffic isn’t for no reason. Blog posts are a vital part of the marketing funnel. Calls-to-Action are in many ways the most important part of the blog post. That’s what you want people to click on, because those people turn into conversions and customers. For the Memphis Invest blog, CTAs range from access to starter packages, subscribing to updates, signing up for events, and making contact with the company in a personal way.

One of my first blog posts, “The Myth of Hands-Off Real Estate Investment” still remains one of the most popular posts on the blog and continues to get views in 2015, despite being posted well over a year ago. Right now, it sits with over 3,000 views. It also has the most CTA clicks of any published post on the blog — nearly 200.

Our goal is to provide content and connection with real value to the reader. That, in turn, helps move them into a deeper relationship with the client’s sales process. That continuing authentic relationship through insightful content is a valuable investment.

Wanting to generate more leads for your business? Let's talk! Contact us to learn more about creative content marketing ideas for your work.

News at CDHQ

by Darren Schwindaman | Principal / Designer

I’ve got two pieces of Creative Distillery news to share:

1. Office Move

We’ve loved our space in Banner Hall for the last four years, but we’re moving this month to a new office space in Fondren. We’ll be in the building at the corner of Lakeland and Old Canton, 3000 Old Canton Rd., where Surin Thai restaurant is located on the ground floor.

The building management has been a great partner in completing a buildout for us that’ll capture much of the open plan and natural light that we love in our current space. There’s also plenty of parking in front of, around, and behind the building. Also, if you’ve struggled up the stairs to our current space, you’ll be pleased to know that our new building has an elevator!

Why move?
The CD team and I naturally gravitate towards the buzz and excitement around the Fondren neighborhood. That part of town is only beginning to mature, and the new buildings and restaurants opening nearby create the vibrant environment we want to inhabit.

We have an overlap in our current and new leases, so there’ll be no interruption in our project schedules. The biggest change you’ll need to make is with your accounting person to make sure that our information gets changed in your systems.
Our new address will be:
Creative Distillery
3000 Old Canton Rd., Suite 455
Jackson, MS 39216

2. New Project Manager / Brand Strategist

Our Project Manager for the last year and a half, Ashlee Brown, is moving to Atlanta. We’re sad to see her go, but pleased to welcome Taylor Lesser, Millsaps MBA, to our team. We worked with Taylor through Millsaps’ ElseWorks business consulting team on the packaging redesign for Mississippi Cold Drip Coffee. That product has since experienced quadrupled sales growth, entry into Whole Foods Market, and is selling faster than they can make it. In addition to a strong organizational and systems mind, Taylor has experience in the New York fashion industry and in brand strategy and marketing plans for businesses. We’re excited to have her working with us!

You can reach Taylor at or by calling our office line, 601-326-2388. Taylor will be the first point of contact for new projects, scheduling questions, or anything related to billing. In addition, she and I will be offering work related to overall marketing plan consulting, business and brand strategy, and market research. You can read more about Taylor and the rest of our team on our About page. Everyone is truly firing on all cylinders right now.

We'll have lots more details in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

#cd30day is back!

by Darren Schwindaman | Principal / Designer

For the last 2 years, we’ve hosted a 30 Day Photo Challenge on Instagram, and been thrilled with the results. It’s that time of the year again. Here are this year’s themes:

We’re fortunate to have a network that spans the world, and seeing those images from so many cities and cultures is probably what I find coolest about this challenge.

Check out this collection of last year's photos, and don't forget to join us on Instagram starting Monday, June 1!

Case Study: How Business Strategy Drove a Brand Design

by Darren Schwindaman | Principal / Designer

Michael Gentry came in for a logo refresh for his landscaping business, Southern Shades of Green. During our initial discovery when exploring goals for what he wanted out of the redesign, he talked about his business goals. The lawn care business is highly commoditized and competitive, and Michael really wanted to work on larger-scale projects with more creative flexibility. (That part was easy for me to relate to.)

The conversation really got into the ability of what we do to solve real problems for people. Michael’s range of skills as a certified landscape horticulturist weren’t being used to its fullest. That was leading to stagnant energy and less satisfaction with the business. Michael wanted projects where he’d be able to work with homeowner and commercial clients who’d trust him to give consultation and design advice from the beginning. We started talking about what would appeal to contractors, high-end homeowners, and commercial development clients. We kept coming back to Michael’s approach: extremely consultative, customized to each landscape and taking into account aesthetics, natural sunlight and water flow, and how the space would be used.

The answer presented itself: rather than hiding behind a business name to seem more professional, Michael should be leaning into his own name to depict himself as an expert that should be trusted with high-end projects. We decided to start working with Michael Gentry Landscape Design as a brand more suited for the type of work Michael was going after.

Logo Design

Here’s an early monogram we did, playing with a high-end look and plant-inspired forms.

During our research, we got really excited coming across some of these landscape design diagrams:

We incorporated those forms into a G, and started coming up with a cool, unique G:

From there, we did several rounds of tightening, checking how the logo scaled, etc. We ultimately settled on a rich, dark green that hit the right balance between luxury and organic. The background support element of the topographic lines appears on the business card and letterhead package.

Finally, we created sales materials that’ll give Michael everything he needs to spark conversations with his desired audience. It’s just the beginning of his journey, but the brand strategy sets him up to enjoy his business more and build a clientele that’ll allow his full set of skills. I’m proud of this process from start to finish: identifying the role of branding in transforming how he’ll experience his business.

One Year Update: I caught up with Michael recently, who says that the new identity has changed his business “basically overnight.” He’s getting more of the jobs he wants and expanding the construction side to build more elaborate outdoor spaces. We love hearing these types of results!

Get us involved in strategy as early as possible! Contact us to talk about your project.

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