Building an identity one step at a time

By Dan Antonelli

Posted on Friday, August 25th, 2023

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I’m often asked about the process of building some of the logos that we create. Do I have an image in mind before sitting down at the computer? Do I do any thumbnail sketches? I think the best way to describe how a logo gets built is to say that it’s a time-consuming process of trial and error, and a collaborative team effort among my designers and illustrator.

Since hiring illustrator Will Harmuth to work with us, we’ve been able to add a new look to our logo designs. Before that, our logos were generally much more type driven. Typography was always my strong point. But when it came to the art or icons, I always struggled because, unfortunately, I cannot draw. Instead, I would scour for clipart then customize it to fit my needs. It was a time-consuming process, and one that rarely resulted in a true, dynamic logo.

The Brooklyn Pork Store, Landi’s Pork Store of Brooklyn, New York, first asked us to redesign their website, (now, which was set up so that the company could ship their product across the country. Their current website was not generating much in the way of orders and was functionally weak.

There wasn’t much more to the site than a poorly designed template, which did little to capture the extensive history and tradition of this well-known store. They’re known for producing the best pork in the New York City area. So, before the site could be built, we went to work on building the logo, as that is the foundation for everything moving forward.

Research and demographics

We began by thinking about their market and the reputation Brooklyn or New York pork stores have. If you were from Brooklyn, you probably knew of Landi’s Pork Store. Otherwise you might not have heard of them. We decided to build a new identity for the website and call it We also decided to play off a more retro feel to the logo, again targeting their demographics—generally an older crowd, more appreciative of the nostalgic look and feel.

We reviewed some photos of the store taken in the late 1940s to give us some design cues in terms of font selection. Viewing some vintage Art Deco graphics and letterstyles was also helpful in showing us prevalent color schemes from that period. It was also important to try to work in some art from their old logo—a pink pig with a crown on top, signifying “The Sausage King.”

Font selection

Font selection for this logo was pretty easy. is a great place to go to get that retro feel. Owner Chuck Davis has assembled quite possibly the finest selection of nostalgic fonts on the Internet. And there’s a nifty feature on the site that lets you demo a word in every font he has available. I started with Brooklyn and tried a few scripts. We decided to use Ballpark and end the lettering with a swash that would run underneath the copy.

Putting the design together

When I get into a logo design—I mean really into it—I can’t focus on too much else. I get somewhat obsessed with it: tweaking it, massaging it, trying all sorts of different things. I thought it might be interesting to illustrate what goes into building a logo like this. I hope these illustrations give you a feel for how this one came together.

It took about two weeks for this design to come together. In this instance, the client generally liked what we did from the beginning and trusted us to know what direction to take the design. That minimized the time to get approvals and feedback.

This article appeared in the September/October 2005 issue of SignCraft.

I narrowed the font selection to two from Ballpark or Ephemera. Ultimately, I decided to go with Ballpark—it seemed to work better on an angle and had a little more weight. I added the return swoosh under the lettering and modified it slightly. Note the enlarged B and how it’s dropped below the baseline.

This rough concept demonstrates a rare and never-before-seen lack of artistic talent, from yours truly. It clearly exemplifies the need for having an illustrator at your disposal! It also shows how I began to formulate a rough concept for the logo. It was a guide for my illustrator to see where his art was going to drop in, and how much space he had to work with.

My idea was to show the Brooklyn Bridge, with a pig sitting in the middle of the towers. At this point, I didn’t anticipate adding a “.com” to the logo. Additionally, it shows another typeface on the secondary copy for Pork Store—which was later shelved in favor of Bell Boy from LetterheadFonts. This matched the store’s circa 1950 original storefront letterstyles. It is also interesting to note that I started in black and white first on this design, which I rarely do. I think I wanted to try to nail down the format of the logo before getting too hung up on the colorization.

Here we can see how some of the colors are starting to come together and how the original illustration is shaping up. I started to have misgivings about the concept, and in my mind couldn’t sync the illustration style to the period look we were trying to achieve. The Pork Store letterstyle was reminding me more of western beef instead of Brooklyn pork. So, we bagged that font.

We also then felt the loss of the identifier of the original name, Landi’s Pork Store, would be a mistake for those local customers who might not make the connection. So we dropped Italian Specialties and replaced it with The Sausage King, which is what Landi’s is known as in Brooklyn.

We added Landi’s Pork Store into the bottom of the design. Another issue that I wanted to avoid was combining bitmaps and vector artwork. I really wanted to try to keep the entire design as a vector instead.

Then we decided to scrap the whole Brooklyn Bridge idea. Tying in the pig with the bridge and the skyline just seemed like too many concepts fighting for attention. The colors of the original sketch weren’t working for me either. Something was missing. We were getting close, though. Will decided to try to put together a few row-buildings as they generally might be in the neighborhood of the store, showing the NYC skyline roughly outlined in the distance. Then he hit upon some great colors that really helped capture that era. I was feeling pretty good at this point. We had replaced the Pork Store lettering with a much better font, and I also decided to add the “.com” below the banner.

It was coming together nicely, and if I could have left well enough alone, I might have stopped right about here. I was left, however, not feeling as much “pork” as I would have liked. I needed a pig in here somehow. But where?

Enter the pig! We decided to tuck the pig in the center of the banner. Finally, we had the Sausage King in the design, and we didn’t overwhelm the look of the logo by adding it. We also changed the lettering around the circle to black and outlined it. Note that the whole design is still 100% vector based—including the drop shadows on Brooklyn and the ribbon. That effect is done by duplicating the shadow and then pasting it into the various paths it overlays. Then each time you paste it over, you add a little black to the color it overlays. So for the Brooklyn, it overlays white, the light green/olive color, and the blue.

Note the detail work in the lettering for Brooklyn. There’s an inset shadow on the burgundy, too. This creates some depth to the letters. We also inset some lighter highlights and added a small drop shadow. A black outline, followed by a white outline with a fade, followed by a black outline, and finally, a blue outline around the whole thing. The last lighter blue outline really helps the letters to pop off a bit.

The same inset shadow effect in Brooklyn was also utilized in “.com”. Simply start with the color of the inset (in this case, light grey), duplicate that path, and color it with what will be the primary color (in this case, white). Cut that path and paste it into the light grey path, and you’ve got a simple inset shadow.

On the sub copy, we also inset some fills to further highlight the letters instead of simply filling them with the light tan color. Using an inset of the white path gives a little more pop. Note the simple drop shadow, which is just a darker shade of the red it sits upon.

Here’s their new website,


Dan Antonelli owns KickCharge Creative (formerly Graphic D-Signs, Inc.) in Washington, New Jersey. His latest book, Building a Big Small Business Brand, joins his Logo Design for Small Business I and II. He can be reached at dan@kickcharge. com. Dan also offers consulting and business coaching services to sign companies. For more information, visit On Instagram: @danantonelli_kickcharge.

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5 months ago

Once I was lettering a truck for a customer who was a landscaper who insisted that I add a cartoon that he did not want to any additional money for. So I did. Years later while in the process of franchising he was informed by his attorneys that he did not own the drawing.. It was still totally the property of my sign company. Our negotiation resulted in a 10,000 dollar addition to our general fund. Logos are extremely important. Stop short changing yourselves,

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