New business Family History Explorer briefed me to design a logo for their Family Tree Genealogy start-up. Providing “Family History for Absolute Beginners” courses in Derbyshire with an experienced tutor, the look needed to be professional, friendly, modern and fresh.

The client was aiming to start courses at the end of April, around 7 weeks from our first meeting date, so the logo was needed quickly in order to begin to advertise.

After meeting with the client and getting an idea for the direction she wished to take the business branding I undertook an analysis of the field as well as a Twiiter survey on the words “Family History”.

Researching the Subject

The resultant “brainstorm” can be seen below looking at the areas that could be approached for the logo design. Some revolve around the ‘Family Tree’ element, other delve into the ‘Explorer’ aspect of the company name.

Logo Design Research

Initial Drafts

Educated by this research I put together a number of draft design options, a couple quite set ideas and a few more conceptual thoughts that needed further development. You can see this in the image below.

Draft Logo Designs

At this stage of a project I usually have a preference for what I’d choose. I like to keep this to myself until I find out the clients preference, at which stage we can discuss in a little detail the positives and negatives of each draft.

Draft Refinements

On this occasion my opinion and that of the customer were the same. We were both of the opinion that the curly tree and compass designs were strongest. The client wanted to see development of each and to try out combining the two elements.

This development can be seen in the image below.

Further Logo Developments, page 1

Further Logo Developments, page 2

I was of the opinion that 2 visual elements may be too much, but it was worth looking at. Again agreement was reached that the 2 element drafts were unsuccessful and the client wanted to focus on the curly tree.

Representing the business with a tree was perhaps not the most radical choice but it would be well recognisable and simple to make the connection from the logo to the business. As the tree was a little more unique than a straightforward illustration I felt it could define the brand well and stand out from the plethora of basic tree designs see within the industry.

Tree Development

Until now the tree was very much a digital sketch of the final design. I needed to smarten and refine it as well as explore options for how to display it.

Tree Logo Refinements

Once I had finalised the tree, I created a number of layout options for the logomark, experimenting with size and layout, seen below.

Logo Layouts

As sometimes happens, both the client and I were most satisfied with the option that stuck closely to the original design. It’s always worth exploring options even if you return to the original, this way you know that you’ve got it right, it also makes you feel good that your instinct in design is good!

Colour Development

Getting towards the final stages, we explored some colour options. I was of the opinion that the purple/pink combination was strong but perhaps a touch feminine. The colour development stage below saw us settle on a sage green as a 2nd colour. This was still friendly but less female focused.

Logo Colour Developments

Final Logo Development

Logo Sub 25mm

The final logo was decided and I delivered the files to the client in various formats and colourways including 1 colour, white and purple only. I also created a 2nd version for use when the logo would go under around 25mm. This reduced the number of branches and curls in order to remain defined at such small sizes.


Finally I provided a spec sheet with examples of the logo in place as well as ‘favicon’ and Apple iOS versions.

Logo Spec Sheet

Project completed and delivered!

Logo Video Showcase

Family History Explorer Logo Design from Kieran Harrod on Vimeo.

And the YouTube version to cover all bases!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and do visit their self published website at Family History Courses Derbyshire, the first course starts on the 26th April 2012! If it’s your thing you can tweet Jenny at @FHExplorer