Chilly Things: A Logo Designed in Secret


This was an unusual request. I was asked to redesign a business's logo without the business owner's knowledge - the redesigned logo was to be presented to her as a Christmas gift!

The original Chilly Things logo that I was asked to revamp.
The original Chilly Things logo that I was asked to revamp.
Client Brief: "I'm trying to give my mother-in-law's craft booth some more oomph and looking to hire an artist to do the logo. Her brand is Chilly Things, which are these bead-filled fabric tubes that you soak in water and wear it like a neck scarf and it cools you down. She also sells a lot of ties, bow ties, and faux fur hats. She does most of her sales in the summer with the chilly tubes but in winter she makes hats, scarves and stuff like that. In my failed attempts at making something I did a polar bear relaxing under a sun wearing a chilly tube around his neck but it read like clip art."

At the time this job came through, I had just upgraded to an iPad Pro with Procreate as my main drawing program, and I had switched from the Adobe suite to Affinity - so I was just learning a handful of new programs and hardware. I thought it would be great to dive right in and challenge myself to see what I could do with them. It was also around this time that I decided I wanted to do as much by hand as possible - to really push my illustration skills. When designing a logo, I used to anchor them in font selection, but that was beginning to feel impersonal and frankly, boring.

So while I did base this logo off of an existing font in the end (more on that in a bit), I started with this sketch. I had two main challenges I needed to overcome: First, the messaging. The product is a cooling sleeve meant to be worn on hot days, but the business also sells knitted attire in the winter to keep you warm. The logo had to feel appropriate no matter which season you'd be seeing it and what products they're selling. Second, and this was self-imposed, as I mentioned above, I wanted it to be illustrative and coherent while also prominently featuring a mascot.

Chilly Things Logo: Early concept sketch
Early concept sketch

In the sketch above, I paired warm and cool colors to convey both moods. In this sketch, I had the lettering in gold tones with cool ice caps over them. I decided to try a snowman as the mascot - His body forms the "i" in "Things," while his hat and scarf form the "i" in "Chilly" and the "s" in "Things," respectively. I was worried the scarf might make it too complicated, but I wanted to try it out at least.

Once the concept was approved, I moved on to font selection. I moved away from the bold capitals of my sketch when I came across this font. It felt fun, whimsical, and would pair perfectly with the snowman's swooping scarf. Also, a note on fonts: When using existing fonts for logos or anything else, even if they're free to download, make sure you read the licensing agreement carefully. I either a) pay the licensing fee or b) make sure they're labeled as free for commercial use before proceeding.

Type treatment with slight variations in layout.
Type treatment with slight variations in layout.
Type treatment with stand-in for the snowman icon.
Type treatment with stand-in for the snowman icon.

Once I found a type treatment I was happy with, I sketched a more realized version of the logo.

The client loved the concept, with one piece of feedback: the scarf didn’t read like an “s.” I took that into account and developed the design further into the sketch you see below, which also includes the colors I’d established so I’d have a blueprint when going into the final vector art.

I took it into Affinity Designer and started to block out the vector shapes.

It was at this point that I did something that was completely radical. I decided to abandon the vector art and continued to develop the initial digital sketch to completion. One of the primary benefits of vector art is that it is infinitely scalable. Meaning it will look clean and crisp no matter how big or how small you print it. But to me, it started to lose some of its charm the more I polished it. The original sketch felt like a winter window painting, and I wanted to retain that in the final. So I decided as long as I create the final file under the proper parameters, it will still read fine at any size, even as a bitmap image.

Finished Chilly Things Logo
Finished Chilly Things Logo

After I delivered the logo and a stand alone version of the snowman, I was asked if I could lose the orange and try a cooler color palette. I submitted a few variants (below). I told them I will send finals of all three and they can pick the one they like most, though I still strongly suggested going with the orange.


Chilly Things color variants
Chilly Things color variants
Final Chilly Things Logo embroidered on an apron.
Final Chilly Things Logo embroidered on an apron.

In the end, the logo and the gift were a success! They went with the orange logo, the client was happy, the business owner was happy, and I was happy! She left me this message: “I appreciate you so much! It turned out way better than I could have imagined. My mother in law LOVED the logo. I had a patch made and put it on an apron. Thank you again! You made Christmas awesome.”






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