The Fuel Stop
Bullet Communications, Inc. / Joliet, IL
In 1986, when I decided to go into business for myself, I knew I wanted to name my business something distinctive, and something that related to the busines of design and advertising. At the time, most of the local firms in Chicago were named after their owners. Naming my firm after myself didn't seem original enough. I was searching for a unique name. An aggressive name. A name people would remember. Something smart and creative that would lend itself to a great logo image. I've always believed that the strongest identites had a clear fusion of name and symbol. What a lot of business owners don't realize is that the logo is not the most important part of their identity --- it's the name they choose for their business. After an intelligent name has been arrived at, then you begin to match an identity to it. So for me, coming up with the right name was paramount. I thought about possible names over a period of 3-4 weeks while I was getting all the other aspects of starting the business put into motion. Then one evening, while relaxing, the name popped into my mind. BULLET. I knew immediately that it was the perfect name. Sometimes, if you have the luxury of time, you can feed a lot of information into your brain and let it steep awhile. Let your subconscious go to work for you. Then bang! The answer pops out. For me, Bullet said aggressive, it said on-target, it said fast, it said direct, it said break through the clutter and make an impact! All of the things you want your advertising and design to do. The next question became BULLET what? Bullet Design? Bullet Advertising? Bullet Marketing? Bullet Communications?
Bullet Communications was the name I thought best represented the image I wanted to project. Since I truly believe that what designers really do, or are supposed to do, is communicate --- this name made the most sense to me. It was also a name that could be percieved as being a much larger firm. At the time, being a one-man band, I thought that could be an asset when clients would be more comfortable thinking they were dealing with a larger firm. Twenty five years later, and still a one-man brand, I let my body of work speak for itself, and I am proud of the professional successes I have enjoyed. After I had my name, the next thing to do was start to design a logo for the company. As in any logo design job, you have to ask yourself a lot of questions. Some initial questions I pondered were "should I design a symbol or simply create a logotype with the word Bullet?" ( A logotype is a logo comprised solely of lettering arranged or designed in an interesting and unique way.) Do I use a more subtle approach and introduce a related image, maybe a target to go with the name? Do I design a symbol of a bullet? How would that symbol work with the type? What tone would I like to project? Should the symbol be rendered in a cartoon style, should it be a graphic design, or should it have a photographic element? I kept all these questions in mind as I began to sketch ideas. Through the sketch explorations I began to discount approaches that didn't seem to be working. I finally decided that the best approach would be to create a graphic symbol of a bullet which looked professional, yet exciting. I researched and explored a variety of bullet shapes and designs until I developed a shape which clearly achieved the sophisticated graphic look and simplicity I was after.
Now, while I was pleased with the design of my bullet, I still did not think the bullet by itself was engaging, or unique enough. I decided I needed to add some spark, so to speak, to the bullet. So I literally added a graphic red spark to the back of the bullet and that was the answer. Then I proceded to refine the spark itself. How many points should it have, how large should it be in relation to the bullet, how far away from the bullet should it be etc. Once I had the entire symbol drawn to my liking, I proceded to explore how I wanted the type to relate to it. In the end I selected a sans serif, contemporary typeface and let the bullet symbol dominate the entire logo unit.
I'm still using that symbol I designed back in 1986 and it hasn't lost one bit of its appeal, relevance or timelessness. The Bullet identity has garnered numerous national and international awards for excellence and has been published in Print's Regional Design Annual, Print's Best Logo Design Book, American Corporate Identity, Graphic Design:USA, HOW Magazine, The Best of Business Card Design, and Letterhead & Logo Design-Creating the Corporate Image. But the most satisfaction still comes from people seeing the logo, telling me they like it, and curiously asking me why the name Bullet? The Bullet identity proves how a powerful logo can benefit a company by creating a relevant professional image, and by being memorable.
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