At Factory, one of the things we love most, creatively speaking, is making logos.

It’s the ultimate start-with-a-blank-sheet-of-paper (or blank Adobe Illustrator artboard, to be more precise) assignment. You begin with nothing but end the project with a new piece of art that becomes the center of some brand’s visual identity, its most ubiquitous and important icon, the face of the brand in the public space.

Making a logo takes a ton of work. You do a lot of exploring, looking at idea after idea after idea. Then killing most of those ideas. Then exploring deeper. Then killing most of that. Then exploring deeper still. And, yes, killing most of that.

If the client sees a dozen logo concepts, there are probably as many as a hundred they didn’t see.

When you finally crack the assignment and end up with a really strong logo, it’s wonderfully satisfying. You get to see your work on billboards when you’re out for a ride, at the end of commercials when you’re watching TV, on the social media you follow, on business cards and letterhead, on email signatures, on event signage, on buildings and on various pieces of swag like caps, coffee mugs, mouse pads, computer bags and t-shirts . . . anywhere and everywhere the brand goes (except radio commercials).

The catch is, when you’re done creating that logo – well, you’re not really done. You have to version it. With and without the brand line; with and without the URL; reversed; monochrome; social media friendly; in varying file sizes; Pantone and RGB . . . all executed in JPG, PNG and EPS. You can end up having to prep and render some 60 or more versions of that one logo. It’s the price you pay for success.

One more thing. Between you and us there’s something else that makes creating logos so satisfying for our designers and art directors and graphic artists:

It’s a writer-free zone.

Just like radio is a special medium where writers can hide out from art directors, logo design is the special home-away-from-the-word-people for art directors. No blah blah blah about making the headline more prominent, no requests to find more room for the copy, no imperative to ruin a nice composition with a subhead.

There can be bliss in the land of pure design.

This was our first logo. Also our first anything. We created this when we were developing the Forever First campaign in the spring of 2013. Our goal was to provide a more sophisticated and dynamic update to the brand’s previous use of the FC flag icon.

In autumn 2015, we launched a campaign around First Citizens’ sponsorship of Teen Cancer America. We created this heart-shaped version of the brand icon to flag for people seeing it that something unique and special was going on in the brand’s TCA communication.

We created this version of the First Citizens logo to go with the platform we put together to promote the brand’s Wealth Management business. To see this logo at its absolute best, you’d want to see the overview brochure we put together. It features both gold and silver foil (BTW, it’s not easy to pull off using both) and provides a splash of tasteful bling against the rich black and white photography we use on all pieces.

We created this reimagining of the Genesee County Parks logo to be used for the campaign we put together to celebrate the system’s 50th anniversary in 2018.

We created this logo to be used in signage at various points along the 73 mile Flint River Water Trail. Fun fact: Those paddles in the logo are based on canoe and kayak peddles.

Hayes Barton Baptist Church is a landmark in the Raleigh, North Carolina area – specifically in the fashionable yet funky Five Points neighborhood. We created this logo as part of a larger look at HBBC’s branding.

Where do you go when you want to buy (or sell) a used bulldozer or tractor or combine or whatever piece of heavy equipment you have your heart set on? You go to IronPlanet. We like this logo a lot, but had an even cooler version that had a three-D effect. But . . . one of the clients didn’t like it. As the old saying goes: Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear buys the second best logo.

It’s not the most high profile logo we’ve ever created, but we have a lot of heart for this elegant and lovely logo we put together for the Genesee County affiliate of Keep America Beautiful.

There were two things we advised the Michigan Recreation and Park Association when we first sat down with them to talk about their branding. They needed a new logo and a new name that wasn’t 40+ characters long. They enthusiastically agreed. We also created a nifty little campfire song for them.

This wasn’t a big project, just the logo, but one we enjoyed, taking the basic building blocks of the organization’s logo and turning it into something more noticeable, more streamlined, more contemporary and harder working.

Detroit Public TV, which is headquartered way out in suburban Wixom (long story) was recommitting to a stronger presence inside the city of Detroit. With a new studio in the Detroit Historical Museum and a new slate of programming that looked at the Detroit Metro region from the ground up. We named it for them: One Detroit. We gave it an aspirational strapline: “Four million people. One story.” And we created this logo. BTW, DPTV subsequently restaged its weekly public affairs program under the name One Detroit. Watch it and you’ll see our work.

Founded way back in the 1880s at the University of Michigan, Phi Delta Chi is the oldest professional fraternity for pharmacists and pharmacy students. They hired us to give their brand a makeover. Our strategy: Avoid the classic fraternity visual grammar (old fashioned Greek typography and/or big college football styling) and bring a contemporary vibe to the brand.

We also created this social media-only version of the Phi Delta Chi logo to more cleanly fill the space available in the profile picture spaces provided by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

As an agency, we’re politically agnostic; we don’t take sides or engage in political work. Our neighborhood of Downtown Royal Oak has been going through big changes these past years, with a lot of development. One big chunk of development involved (some said) encroachment on the parking lot nearest the Royal Oak Farmers Market . . . potentially threatening the wellbeing of said Farmers Market. Others disagreed. We had no opinion. But our landlord was on the Save The Farmers Market committee and asked if we would help out. We’re a soft touch, so we said yes. Also, we thought we could have some fun with this one. Which we did.

This was part of a head-to-toe makeover for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. Our goal was to make the brand’s visual identity more suited for today’s low-pixel environments: Keep it simple, keep it clean, help it pop from the many digital, printed, silkscreened and stitched settings it will inevitably find itself in. Those swooping arcs represent the two bodies of water that define the Metroparks’ territory and give the system its full name – the Huron and Clinton Rivers.