Designing the new Web UK Logo Click here to discover more
When Jim Sanders was asked to redesign the Web UK logo, as seen on the header above, the new Web magazine and the stunning new Web UK T-shirt the reaction was a little more forceful than we expected.

Hot tea blown out through nostrils is a surprisingly painful thing and it rarely makes one look elegant or composed.

Jim Sanders

"Err, cough... umm, I..." I wiped rapidly cooling tea from my face and shirt.

To begin with I assembled all the things a designer needs to design anything - a layout pad and a big thick pencil. And I drew. I scribbled. Sketched. Erased and sketched again. Scrawled and shaded and outlined. After a while I closed my layout pad and went away for a bit. And cried...

A million questions rattled around what felt like the emptiest head. What if no one at The Web likes it? What if the band don't like it? What if the FANS don't like it? I had never felt under so much pressure. It's all fine and well designing something for someone who a) is paying you and b) you have no emotional investment in but when you design for something that you feel matters, everything you do can feel substandard.

My main aims were simple.

  1. Design a logo that was in no way connected to anything Marillion had done in the past.
  2. Design something with impact.
  3. Design something that would stand the test of time.

Having completed my initial sketches I then spread all my Marillion CDs and vinyl over a table and stood with my layout pad and pen, systematically putting a big X through EVERYTHING that vaguely resembled anything dreamt up by Mark Wilkinson or Carl Glover.

No, no, NO.

I turfed out about 80% in one fell swoop.

I turned back to beginning of the layout pad and started the process again. Anything fey, dainty and lightweight, anything that would lose impact when reproduced small... slash, hack, cut. Another 50% gone.

Back to the beginning and once more any sketch of an idea that had an air of the painfully contemporary, the self-consciously fashionable...  binned.

That left me with about 5% of the original sketches to work from. I then spent the next two weeks refining and tweaking the ideas I had been left with. Not full time you understand; just in those wee moments between sleeping and doing the stuff that pays the mortgage. I had been left with around 15 basic ideas and managed to narrow it down to 8 or so before I sat down at my Mac and started turning them into something more solid. And then another week spent nuzzling up to Adobe Illustrator, buying it flowers and taking it to fancy restaurants in a bid to curry favour with this lovely piece of software. Maybe there was a  special command key-stroke I was unaware of - Cmd + Shift + Create awesome logo? Nope. Hard graft it was, then.

Finally I had a couple of handfuls of designs that I thought were heading in the right direction. All of them created in black and white only. I didn't want to make the mistake of making an initial presentation with the logos in colour. Too often I have seen a perfectly good design get binned at an early stage because the client was swayed by the use of a colour they didn't like. On one memorable occasion a design was passed over because the MD's wife didn't like  purple. What the...?!

I made a PDF of the chosen few and emailed them off. And waited.

I figured that maybe the Web UK team might like three or four. A bit from here, and element of that one, the typography of a third and then ask me to shoe-horn them together. It turned out that the choice was almost unanimous... apparently.

They had chosen one and it was time to refine it.

I have to admit that graphically there wasn't much more that needed to be done to the design the Web UK team chose. A second set of logos using different typefaces was presented as an interim and then it was on to colour treatments.

A raft of 'colourways' were presented along with some samples to show how the logo could be used in conjunction with imagery and that was pretty much it. In the end it was reasonably painless.

So many designers post-rationalise their work - I've been guilty of it myself. But frequently I find that the design process is intuitive. You can cloud the design issue with demographics and focus groups, marketing speak (AB1 anyone? Sounds like The Bill, doesn't it?) and boardroom buzzword bingo. But ultimately it comes down to doing what feels right. I suppose I could waffle on about how the new Web UK logo speaks about the circle of the Marillion family, with the band at the centre and we, the fans, radiating out from that central point of commonality. Blah, blah, blah. It was pointed out to me that the logo bares some resemblance to a logo used in a recent Sky TV Sci-fi drama about the spread of a contagious killer space disease. I would like to point out that the logo was finished before I saw the trailer for this show (no, honestly) and I admit, I winced. But then I could post rationalise again, talking about the contagious nature of Marillion's music and how we've all been infected. Terminal cases. So much twaddle, eh? Eh?

No, in the end it was an eye catching design that I liked (among a host  of others I liked) that was well liked by a group of people who hope that you like it too.

Coming to a magazine, a website and a t-shirt near you soon... the new  Web UK logo. Hope you like it.

First posted on the Web UK website in 2006.

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