On Building a Brand

  • February 26, 2019

we built this blog with a $20 theme and our bare hands.

the inevitable "should we get a logo?" conversation was short -- Hideko doesn't like spending any money until an idea is proven.

now that we're 30 days in, do we deserve it?

First Month in Review

since launch we've published 11 posts, garnered around 100 email subscribers, and just a handful (48) of Instagram followers.

Rickshaw Labs Dashboard Metrics

besides a couple tweets from Ryan's personal account, we're not really promoting Rickshaw to our friends for two reasons: 1) Rickshaw is for a different audience and 2) we like a challenge. :)

our biggest accomplishments since launch are more internal than external:


  • Rickshaw's code base is well-tested and has continuous integration

  • our writing + formatting process for new posts is established

  • we configured tools like Search Console and are already seeing a bit of organic traffic

we also fixed a few bugs with our automatic location and expense import utilities, and added new modules to our post "builder" like YouTube embeds, Instagram, and Twitter.

Treat Yo Self

with all our basics covered -- a modestly growing audience and the motivation to serve them new content -- it's time to step things up a notch.

so we went shopping for a logo.

at our companies we have talented designers who lead branding, color palette, typography, and related decisions. at Rickshaw, we don't have as many resources, because Rickshaw doesn't make any money. ;)

to lock in an inexpensive logo for the Rickshaw CMS we consulted a few places:

99designs
we quickly eliminated this for being the most expensive.

we also didn't really *want* to have to decide between dozens of logo concepts (their Contest feature) or browse 100s of designers (their Match feature).

Logojoy
i heard about this startup a couple yeras ago and filed it in the back of my head

Logojoy uses "AI" (yes in quotes) to create a logo based on the essence of information you provide in their wizard. so, it will ask you for keywords and a description, then essentially match those words to icons and fonts you might enjoy.

Logojoy logo samples Rickshaw Labs

since we had a pretty specific base concept in mind -- the letters "R" and "L" as pieces of machinery in an actual rickshaw vehicle -- we figured Logojoy would not be a good fit.

here are a few more concepts they produced instantly in the logo builder.

Logojoy example logos of a cart

Fiverr
Ryan has been tinkering with Fiverr for a few years.

it's relatively easy to sort designers (or any discipline) by price and quality, so after 10-15 minutes browsing we chose a vendor with minimal, modern design examples that fit our tastes.

we chose this guy, the $25 package...

Minimal logo designer on Fiverr

Fiverr for Logos

Fiverr vendors can create custom questionnaires, which are great for buyers because it cuts down on back/forth.

we mentioned wanting an "R" and "L" incorporated into a Rickshaw, so we mocked this up in 5 minutes and hit "send."

Rickshaw Labs logo inspiration

a few days later the project was delivered.

it was 1 logo concept instead of the 4 we were promised in the package, so we pushed the seller to follow through. (i notice the seller has since reduced the package further to 2 concepts, good for him!)

about a day later we had 4 designs to consider, in PNG and AI (Adobe Illustrator) format for hackability.

the Grey one was obviously a half-a** job so we rejected it immediately. two letters inside a box? really dude?

the Turquoise and Pink versions are clever because they spell out "Labs," but are also kind of intricate, and wouldn't be obvious if used as a small avatar.

Blue on the other hand, is simpler and also a bit bubbly + retro. we could further strip out just the "R" and "L" block letters for a minified avatar, without losing the spirit of the illustration.

we're going with Blue.

No Logo Required

what they say is true: a brand is not a logo.

instead your brand is the gut reaction people get when they hear your name -- personal or business or government or otherwise.

but a logo does help visualize brands, and this one needs all the help we can get.

stay tuned.