Locking in: The Creation of the 7 Locks Brewing logo

Posted on November 01, 2015 by Phillip Thompson | 0 comments

Some friends of ours, Keith and Laura, own a brewery in Rockville, Maryland, called 7 Locks Brewing. It's a great spot--check it out--and they are expanding their sales, clientele, and offerings all the time. They had a logo made early on but recently wanted to give it a re-working, in time for some new beer releases.

Keith knew I did design and illustration and approached me to create the new logo. I thought I'd share the process from concept to finished product, showing the sketches along the way and the thoughts and reflections on each.

The baseline requirements: 

  1. Tie it into the area, specifically the area's history and industrial traditions. 7 Locks refers to the seven locks in the area along the C&O canal
  2. Some vintage flair (not so much the spare modern design)
  3. Make the "7" prominent

First off was just getting ideas on the page. For a few of these I wanted to tie in 7 elements, 7 something, so for concept #1 I made it bottles interlocking.

For some of the other ones, I wanted to allude to the change in the waterline in locks, as well as the large gears used in canals to open and close the gates.

They chose 1 and 4 to develop further.

So I developed those concepts with 3 variations on each, below. They liked 3A and 1B. 


So then developed 3A and 1B further, elaborating on each concept direction. Here are those variations, below.

They really liked the last design and felt like it looked most like a finished logo. They also liked that, though I was originally going for interlocking bottle shapes, it looks like interlocking brewing tanks. 

Keith, who had earlier wanted to avoid any gear motif, decided to try adding a gear shape. We both felt that it gave the logo a "finish." From there, I worked on polishing this design.

Here is one of my early passes at finishing the design. The font is one that I have liked for a while. It's a Victorian font, Excelsis, and I think it conveys a vintage feel without screaming it. I carved out the letters to accommodate the tank design, then beveled the text to give it some depth. A lot of logo fonts these days are flat, and I tend to go flat--but it just didn't work here for the direction they wanted to go in.   

The above, though, just didn't seem to be working to our total satisfaction. I decided to go back to the literal drawing board, where I'm most comfortable, and sketch out something that would work better.

I ended up with the drawing below. It seemed to have a little more soul to it than the digital design. I also added a waterline below "Brewing" to support the letters. I had shown Katie and she thought that it had seemed pasted on, too much like it was floating. 

For "Brewing" originally I had used a web font, something pretty simple and sleek, but it looked pretty weak in this context, and so I decided to go toward another serif font, one that had a lightweight and drawn feel to it (below).

Keith and his partners were happy with the sketch above, and so I had it traced in Illustrator to give it a finished look. See below.

In sending over that final black and white version of logos, though, I had accidentally included a version of the logo I had made earlier, something without the gear (below). Keith (and I) definitely liked it better without the gear.

So we decided to...shift gears. 

So I went to the digital drawing board and reworked the logo so that it could work without the gear, and put an circle in its place. I also experimented with the ways that color would give it a new dimension. One example is using a split color in the text to suggest the water lines of a canal with various locks.

I came up a few designs like this one to share:

We tried a bunch of different color schemes, including this one (below) that had a gray gradient that unfortunately made the design seem a little dated. I suggested moving more toward color blocking, like a screen print, and worked in that direction.

Ultimately, with some back and forth with Keith, I found a design in there that he and I were happy with. Here's the final black and white and color versions.

So that's the story of the birth of a logo. Fun to work on and make it come to life. It's very rewarding, too, to provide some value toward a business that celebrates its local history and industry. Go stop by 7 Locks Brewing next time you're in their neck of the woods.

If you have questions about how Cape Horn Illustration can create your logo, from concept to finished product, please get in touch with me and let's talk!



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