The new Millo logo is here! + The design process behind it

A note from Preston: Today, I’m thrilled to unveil our brand-new custom-made hand-lettered logo. The logo was designed by the über-talented Dina Rodriguez of Letter Shoppe and I’ve asked her to share with us a bit more about her onboarding and design process behind delivering the final logo.

I found many pieces extremely insightful including how quickly she responded to my first email and the fact that she never offered me more than one design option.

That’s right: One concept, zero revisions, zero headache (for both of us). We can all learn a lot from Dina’s process.

I’d also love to hear what you think about the new design. Leave a comment and let Dina and I know how she did!

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Take it away, Dina…

• • •

To best see how I worked with Millo to create their new hand lettered logo design, I’ll take you behind the scenes all the way to our first emails and through my final design decisions that got us to the beautiful end result.

Onboarding Process

I’ve been a huge fan of the Millo brand since way back in the day when they were still called Graphic Design Blender. So you can imagine my excitement and surprise when I received a notification in my inbox that Preston had just filled out my Request A Quote form on my website.

Within the hour, I immediately responded to show my enthusiasm and to learn more about this interesting new project.

Impressed by my quick response time, Preston and I started hashing out the details so I could have all the information I needed to provide a detailed estimate.

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Within 6 days of emailing back and forth, the proposal was born!

With amazing tactfulness and business savvy, Preston and I were able to come to an agreement to do an exchange of services.

As a new full-time freelancer, I was happy to do an exchange of services to help get my name out there. Plus I was eager to work with a brand that has played such a big part to my success as a designer.

Eliminating Preston’s Concerns

After the proposal was signed, I delivered my detailed production schedule, which raised some concerns for Preston. Since we had agreed that I could live stream my process on Twitch, he was worried that with my one concept approach that he wouldn’t love the final logo.

In an email, Preston wrote:

“I am 99.99999999999999999% sure I’m going to love the design you come up with. (Even more nines if I had the time.) But what happens on the miniscule chance that the logo doesn’t work for me?

Then will it have been weird to have shown the process and talked all about it? Because what I’d love to do is post a link to your twitch stream when you’re doing it and invite Millo fans to watch…

Can you ease my concern?”

With any new client, there is a certain amount of education involved whether it’s your process, turnaround time or the value of your work.

So it’s important to prepare yourself for these kinds of questions so you can explain your methods in a way that your client can easily understand.

So did I reply all bull headed and defensive? Of course not!

Instead I wrote this:

Preston,
I’m so glad that you feel comfortable enough to be really honest with me. I really do appreciate it.

I completely understand your hesitation but you will be involved in the production process so you can be rest assured that you will receive a final product you enjoy.

Our first week of production is completely dedicated to creating the art direction for your piece. I’ll put together samples, color and type treatments in a Pinterest Mood Board and will deliver multiple art directions for you to choose from.

We will then review those ideas until one is approved by you. I’ll even include some bonus rough thumbnails to give you a better idea of what the final piece will look like. Plus you’ll easily be able to see me working on Twitch as well. 🙂

I will only move forward with producing a design that not only you will love but that will better attract your audience. With open communication and a clear view of your goals for your design, I have no doubt that we will have a successful project.”

Notice that the first thing I do here is thank Preston for sharing his concerns with me and then I confidently explain my process to showcase that he will be involved during the entire project.

I even go above and beyond and decide to add thumbnails during the mood board process, something I never do. But in this case, it was important for me to eliminate any concerns he might have so he could feel comfortable moving forward.

I think my email did the trick too. Just check out this response:

Dina,
You’ve done it again: fears appeased. Thank you for letting me express them. I can’t wait to get started.

Boom goes the dynamite! With a happy client, I felt good about going into first phase of production.

My Hand Lettering Process For Millo

I have a very detailed process when it comes to logo design where I focus each week on just one task. Taking three weeks total, I like to only work with one client at a time so I can really hone my skills, do research and gather inspiration.

Here’s my production process from beginning to end including my failures and the reasons behind my design decisions.

1. Mood Board
I always like to begin my process by collecting a series of inspirational images consisting of different type styles, colors and fonts in a Pinterest Mood Board. This way me and the client can both be on the same page for the art direction I have planned.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 8.57.33 PM

Going into my sketching phase a little early, I began doing just a few pages of monoline thumbnails to give Preston a few ideas I had for composition and structure. By spending an extra hour on these thumbnails I was able to help Preston visualize his future logo without needing to go into perfection mode.

millo mood board

After our Mood Board meeting, it became clear that Preston wanted a brand that felt organic without being too decorative. It was important for the word mark to be able to fit in mostly horizontal formats, so it could fit nicely into the header of millo.co.

carmah

We settled on a stylistic direction similar to the Carmah and Wevoke samples from our Mood Board. Then we both agreed to come up with an icon version of the word mark using just the letter “M” for square ratio profile images and his website’s avatar.

2. Thumbnails

Once I had a stylistic direction in mind, it was time to get to work and get a few ideas on paper. This below page is just one of the many pages I filled up with thumbnails both on and off my live stream on Twitch.

With each new concept, I drew closer and closer to a word mark I felt was appropriate to represent the new Millo brand.

millo logo new
As you can see, I drew out which aspects of each logo I preferred and started to develop an idea of what characteristics of my letters I wanted to include in the final word mark.

At first I thought having the “M” ligature come under the “i” would be a nice customization for the brand along with the possibility of having an additional “o” ligature to help close off the piece.

3. Drawn Concepts

Once I had an idea of what kind of structure my lettering would take, I started to work bigger and create more fleshed out concepts. I ended up spending the most time on the below two pieces.

millo logo drawn

I liked their initial direction, but I realized no matter how much time I spent on them they didn’t have that refined quality I was looking for. They were too playful, too young for an audience made up of creative professionals well into their 20s and 30s.

millo outlines

So with that in mind, I started again going towards a completely new direction. Then using some type inspiration from our initial Mood Board I created two completely new concepts. When designing a logo it’s important to take any personal preference and throw them straight out the window. You can’t be afraid to start over, even if you spent a ton of time on the project already.

I liked both above concepts but felt I needed to Frankenstein them together to get that clean, natural aesthetic Preston was looking for. Ultimately I went with something closer to the first sample to be my winning word mark that I would spend the rest of my time refining.

4. Final Concept

With a clear view of the finish line, I spent a few more hours tweaking my final concept. I ended up making a more distinct thick to thin contrast to increase readability. I also started to align my typography to a more balanced grid ensuring that my baseline, x-height, and cap-height were all consistent.

Any time you’re creating a logo design from scratch with hand lettering, it’s important to not be afraid to draw and redraw your wordmark several times. As designers, we have all experienced an out of focus view on our work because we have been staring at it for far too long. I’ve learned if you stare at any word for long enough it doesn’t look like a word anymore but rather just a series of lines and shapes.

So to combat what I like to call “designer’s crosseye,” I simply redraw the word and with each new draft I’ll fix another error I didn’t see the time before.

millo logo final outline pencil

I ended up doing a lot of work upside down to see clearly that my kerning was even, and each letter had the same amount tilt. Sometimes it’s best to edit your lettering upside down so you stop seeing the characters as letters and more as shapes so you can get a good idea of the negative space.

Then to make things easier for me going into Illustrator, I drew in some mock bezier handles of where I thought my anchor points would go. That way once I was ready to vector my wordmark I wouldn’t have any hesitation when using the pen tool.

5. Vector

Since I was able to do most of the refinement on pen and paper, it was relatively easy to vectorize this piece. I knew where my anchor points went, I had a grid in place, now all that was left was to make sure this wordmark looked as smooth and effortless as possible.

new millo logo vector points

I was pretty dead on with my mock anchor points, but, of course, there were a few that ended up not being a right fit for the piece. I always try to create every logo design using only vertical and horizontal bezier handles to keep my file size down and make it easy to make subtle adjustments. I know all too well that the more anchor points you have the harder making changes can be.

6. Icon

I had planned ahead for the icon version of this logo by drawing out the “M” separately. The only real change that I made was that I included a rounded off end to the right stem. This way the letter could be used on its own without looking cut off.

millo logo new final icon

I also made some sight adjustments to the negative space between each steam in the “M” to increase readability so even when this icon is as small as 48×48 pixels it could still be recognized.

millo twitch

Live Streaming on Twitch

While creating this logo, Preston and I both thought it would be a great idea to live stream my process on Twitch. This way Millo fans and creatives alike could hang out in the chat and be a part of the rebrand. We shot 12 hours of footage over the span of 3 days on Twitch and condensed it down to just over 2 minutes.

So now you can watch the entire above process in this short timelapse I created for your viewing pleasure.

I’m proud to say that I’m still live streaming my lettering projects since I originally shot this back in November 2015 on Twitch and it has completely revolutionized the way I do freelance work. With streaming 3-5 times a week, I hope you’ll join me in the chat and add to our awesome creative community I like to affectionately call “The League of Letters”.

In Conclusion

A ton of work went into this project and I’m really proud of the end result. Just look at that new awesome logo in the header!

I hope you have enjoyed this inside look into my hand lettering process and that it has sparked something for you with your own creative projects.

If you have any questions, please feel free to add your voice to the comments and let’s chat!

• • • • •

Again from Preston: I’d love to hear what you think. I personally love the final product and being part of Dina’s process was incredibly eye-opening. She’s a real professional. Also, stay tuned for some fun new Millo swag coming your way soon—we’re talking stickers, notebooks, tees, mugs. It’s good stuff. Subscribers to the newsletter will be the first to get access. Thanks for all your support!


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  1. Awesome tutorial on the process. I’m studying Graphic design and found this really informative.

  2. Hey Dina, Great explanation of process and lovely end result!

    Quickly…how does the one concept concept affect the way you price a project? I like the idea, but do you find clients understand the value of the art direction you do out the outset, or are you running into a “discount” mentality (one concept = one low price!)?

  3. Hey Dina, you did a great job on the new logo. I really loved the logo yours just replaced, because it looked like handwriting & struck a balance between masculine & feminine qualities, but that’s in no way meant to diminish what you’ve accomplished. Congratulations on being tapped to redesign Millo’s logo, as a fellow designer I share your joy & success. : ) Thank you for detailing your process & breaking everything down & also for the graceful way in which you’ve responded to critics of the new logo. Anything less than positive feedback is difficult for designers to swallow, especially since our time & skill goes into a project directly. I admire your grace & will be sure to keep your approach in mind when I receive not so kind feedback on my own work.
    Thanks for the great content. : )

    1. Ashley! I’m so glad that I was able to inspire you.

      Critiques are a great way to learn and grow as a designer and should be taken with a grain of salt.

      I’m in no way perfect, but I can keep my ear to the ground so I can constantly improve my work for my clients and myself.

      Thanks so much for being a fan!

    1. Hey Tahlia! Bezier handles is a term used when designers use the pen tool in Illustrator a professional design program. These handles help control lines and keep our shapes smooth.

  4. This is amazing and you are an amazing artist!. I live how you broke down the process. This not only helps sharpen the designer community, but also educates the details of what goes into the design process for the clients we serve.

    Well done!

    1. Dionna, thanks so much! I’m so glad you found this article helpful! I believe in a brutally honest approach to my work and like to share as much as possible.

  5. Dina – great work!

    I think one important factor here to note is that it seems like Preston did his research and chose a designer that he admired and felt was right for the job. I know that sounds obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times I get someone approaching us for work that is clearly not within the style or interest of our team. I always think – did you even look at our portfolio?!?

    My point is, I think everyone here was happy with the result because they put the time in to finding the right designer for the client.

    Nice work guys!

    1. Hey Matt,
      Thanks for the kind words. I was honored that Preston choose me to design the new logo. 🙂

  6. Dina you did a great job. Having also worked in the industry since 1991 and done logo/identity design for some bigger names, what you have done looks good and fits the client’s needs. What most designers need to learn is the ability to back each other up in this industry. Some have egos that hinder them from moving forward and being flexible to many possibilities. This logo fits and serves the purpose it was designed for. Also congrads to Preston for your new identity.

    1. Sean,
      Thanks for chiming in. I welcome critiques and criticism because it makes me a better designer in the long run. I can’t possible expect every designer to agree with my design decisions but what I can do is be open to suggestions for next time.

      I’m so glad that you like Millo’s new logo and thanks again for all your kind words. It means the world.

  7. I love the new logo and it was wonderful to see the process behind it. Great work, thanks for sharing.

  8. Thank you for sharing your process in this article Dina, it was inspiring to see the start to finish video. I became a fan of this type of lettering work after following Sergey Shapiro on Dribbble and now I have added you on that list as well, thank you.

    1. Sean,
      Thanks so much! Yes, Sergey is defiantly in my top 10 to follow as well. You got good taste my friend.

  9. I enjoyed reading your about your process Dina! It amazes me how simple business can be when you communicate properly throughout the entire process. Thanks for sharing 🙂 I appreciate the care and consideration you’ve shown with this project….good job.

    BTW, It’s awesome how you two are responding to the comments 😉

    1. Hey Ray,
      Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I really appreciate all your support and kind words. 🙂

  10. Impressive! Thanks! Just a little remark… There are creatives out there in their 40s and even 50s also…
    ; )

    1. Hey Hauke! So glad you liked it. Yea I guess that one comment could be taken the wrong way. Sorry about that. Definitely not trying to exclude anyone. I hope you can understand.

      I was just referring to the fact that my first few concepts were a little too young even for creatives in their 20’s. So its a good thing I decided to go another direction huh. 🙂

  11. This is such a great insight – thanks for sharing those emails too. I really enjoyed the live stream you did, and was quite inspired. It’s a great way to allow clients to see the process, whilst sinultanioysly giving back to the community and growing an audience too – certainly takes courage to do!!. Keep up the great work you’re doing, and congratulations to Preston and the Millo team on the new logo!!

    1. Hey Ian! So awesome that you enjoyed this sneak peek into my on-boarding process. Your kind words mean the world. Seriously.

      I hope to see you on Twitch again real soon. 🙂

  12. I know Dina put a lot of work into the logo but I’m just not convinced that it is the best solution. It disappoints me to hear that she only explored one idea because she may have been able to create something more exciting if she had not limited herself. The first idea you have is seldom your best idea and as a designer it is your job to explore the rest of those possibilities, and not just by creating a mood board. Even her preliminary sketches are all the same. I personally think the new logo is way too feminine, and not representative of your demographic and I also do not enjoy looking at the M as I feel there is something off about it. The old logo, while needing some work, was much more lively and personal and headed in a better direction.

    1. Karen,
      I appreciate the honesty. I’m not sure she only explored one idea. In fact, she started down the road with one concept, hit a dead end and started again with another direction. But, I can understand that it doesn’t work for everyone. Thanks for the comments!

      1. Fair enough. Perhaps there was a bit more designing that wasn’t able to be highlighted in a short blog post. Dina certainly is a talented designer, and I don’t want to take away from her work, I just think maybe she has a better idea hiding in her head somewhere.

        1. Hey Karen. What a great critique. If only we could have worked together on this project! 🙂

          Thanks for being a fan and for your kind words on my work.

  13. This is the logo I always wanted Millo to have. Great work, Dina! Your lettering skills are top notch.

        1. Hey Sean,
          Thanks so much! I need to update it real bad but I’m so glad your digging my stuff. 🙂

  14. I have been a fan of Dina’s work for some time now and was really excited for her and Preston to work together on the new Millo logo. Dina did an excellent job! Love her process and have taken some clues from this for my own logo design process. One part I loved that I am going to start using right away is mood boarding with my clients on Pinterest!

    The logo looks great!

    1. Yay Kyle! So great to see you here on Millo. Thanks so much for your kind words and for being such an awesome friend.

      Yes, I find Mood Boards helpful for those clients that have a hard time picturing a creative direction. It was a real gamer changer for me. I hope it works out for you!

  15. I really enjoyed reading your process Dina. I really like the Pinterest Mood Board idea. I usually print out or cut out (if it’s print material) and place in a folder for each client, the things I would like to include or that inspire me. But, to also have a mood board to share with the client would save me a bunch of time on redo’s because my art direction isn’t inline with the clients vision. Thanks for the read!

    1. Hey Sam! Thanks so much. I’m so glad that you dig my process.

      That’s interesting that you create a tangible Mood Board. Thats old school and I like it!

      I tend to stick to digital references but printing it out could be an awesome way to have all my inspiration in front of me as I work, so I can a needed screen break.

      Great input!

  16. With due respect for the effort, this is not a logo, but a pleasing typeface. Nothing gives it vitality, life, or makes it stand out from the pack of pretty scripts that abounds. It is too predictable, and therefore, boring. I was hoping for much more. The old logo, while needing refinement, had a unique, slightly quirky feel based on the M, and conveyed a sense of energy. Having designed logos for thirty years, I am not in your target demographic. But I hope you respect that our experience may be something younger designers can learn from. A good example of a logo that is similar in feel but both attractive and meaningful is Pinterest.

    1. Thanks for the commentary, Jeff. There are obviously lots of ways to go about designing a logo. We went with strict letters (no icons or other elements) on this one. I’d love to hear what you would suggest we do differently, though. Definitely value your experience and expertise. 🙂

    2. Hey Jeff. Thanks so much for your input. If only I had 30 years under my belt like you. Maybe we could collaborate some time? You seem like you really know your stuff!

      1. Dina and Preston, thanks for your gracious responses! I appreciate.

        As to what I would do differently. Well, first, what I would not change, and that is going with a wordmark. No need for an icon, as those can date fast. However, I do feel that a wordmark generally needs a twist — often one letter modified a bit to add uniqueness to the letterforms and raise the look from beautiful typeface to logotype.

        Dina, your letterforms are lovely, and the M as icon is perfect. But… it could, in my opinion, be altered to be a bit more distinctive while still working in perfect visual harmony with the rest of the letters.

        I have other thoughts, but this came to mind first.

        Dina, I would love to collaborate! Thank you for your kind words.

        Jeff

          1. Dina,
            One more thought. I agree with Karen that the M is not quite refined enough. The two vertical strokes look pretty good, but the curves on the third still need work. Plus, while the open spacing of the strokes is great for an avatar, it doesn’t feel right with the rest of the letters I. The whole logo. Thanks for being open to all the input!

          2. And another typo in my last post. As a writer, that irks me! I’m hurrying too fast on my iPhone.

  17. I admire your process and your warmth of relations with the client, which is a tough part of the trade. Thank you, the logo is as pleasing to my eye as it is to Preston’s.

    1. Basil, I’m so glad to hear that you and Preston are on the same page. I love the new logo and I’m proud to add it to my portfolio.

  18. Thanks so much for sharing your entire process with us. I love the way you were honest about misgivings in the beginning of the process and how you took care of those BEFORE beginning anything.

    Great job, Dina!

    1. Hey Sharon. On-boarding is a speciality in of it’s self. I like to treat my clients like I would like to be treated. So that usually mean a ton of communication and transparency especially when it comes to fixing a potential issue.

  19. Sorry I didn’t liked the representation of new logo. Previous logo was much mature. This logo seems bit irrelevant.

    1. Maulik,
      I appreciate your feedback, but I disagree. The last logo was pretty amateur and this logo is profesh. 🙂 To each his own, I guess. Best.

    2. Maulik, no worries. I appreciate the feedback. Anything you would have done differently? Maybe I could learn something from you. 🙂

  20. Well into their 20s and 30s?! Just how young are you folks? Don’t you realize there are plenty of design veterans out here who might find that comment a bit narrow-minded and off-putting? I generally love your posts, but geez, now that I know I don’t fit your demographic, should I stop reading as often? Great content on a consistent basis otherwise!

    1. Andi,
      Definitely didn’t mean to offend anyone. 🙂 The truth of the matter is, the majority of people visiting our site are in their 20s and 30s. But we know there are tons of design vets who also join us and we’re so glad you’re here! Dina was just referring to the core age demographic of the highest percentage of Millo readers. 🙂 Have a great day!

    2. Just read your comment. Couldn’t agree more with you, Andi! Had the same reaction. Ageism is far too common in the creative industry…

    3. Wow Andi, I hope you know that my comment was in no way suppose to be agest. Man I’m so embarrassed.

      What I meant was that my earlier concepts were way too young, like almost for kids. So I had to go for a more mature logo since the starting age is somewhere in the early twenties.

      I guess I had trouble making a brand for all ages to enjoy. I defiantly took your comments to heart and will try to do better next time. Thanks again for your honesty. Seriously.

    1. Yay Heather! So great to see you here too! Thanks for your kind words and for being such a fan of my work. It means the world. 🙂

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