An illustrator and animator with impressive big-brand credits, Shahar Naor has animated episodes of the Emmy-nominated NBC Universal program Pale Force and designed a website for Coca-Cola Israel. From his Cronus Media studio in Tel Aviv, he shares his eye for design and his knack for creating visually striking ads. And because no walls can contain his talent, he joined Fiverr as a Pro Seller.
Shahar has turned a background in biology and philosophy, and a passion for drawing, into a full-fledged design studio. I was interested to hear how he achieved such success, as well as his thoughts on designs that stand the test of time.
Nico: First of all, thank you for participating in this interview. For those who don't know you, can you give us a little background about yourself and what you offer on Fiverr?
Shahar: I started my journey with design as a way to make a buck while drawing. Want to pay me to draw banners? Awesome! Need them moving? Sure – I learned Flash and how to animate. With time, it turned into an actual profession and I opened up a design studio with a partner.
There weren't that many design studios around and we had to master many different crafts for various clients. In 12 years, we got to animate an Emmy-nominated series for NBC, illustrate and web design for Coca-Cola Israel, brand and escort numerous tech startups from scratch to exit, and contribute to countless other projects.
Looking for other challenges, in the last three years I've also founded and run a mobile digital-content-creation startup, which built a much-needed tool for designers. I've even retired from the studio to make it happen. Once that was achieved, I started illustrating and designing again, which brings me to Fiverr.
Here I'm practically a newbie, as a member since September. I offer gigs that have been my strongest suit – branding and illustration, abstract and extreme high details – both necessary in demanding an emotional response from the viewer.
Nico: Great aesthetics are what companies and brands are often after. In your opinion, is a beautiful logo the perfect logo?
Shahar: A perfect logo is what serves its owner's goals in the best way. It helps if it's appealing, but as a tool to achieve a purpose and not as an end goal. A logo represents the story you want associated with your brand. It is the visual representation of your public image and has a crucial influence on the way your brand is perceived by external and internal stakeholders.
It will imprint a mental image on anybody exposed to it for the first time, and if you want a certain imprint, there's a lot to consider – the structure of the brand, its environment, competitors, goals, and purpose. Of course, it all has to be distilled into an aesthetic package. However, a pretty cover does not necessarily make a great book.
Nico: Let's get straight to the point – what is the coolest logo you have ever designed and what are the essential components that make it look great?
Shahar: No way to choose – each has its own uniqueness. For me, a cool logo is one that also has a story on top of everything else. The one I'm attached to the most is the one I've prepared for my own startup, for obvious reasons. It carries the name "Cronus," which is the name of the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans in Greek mythology – the father of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. He's usually depicted with a sickle, being the patron of the harvest. The smooth motion of the sickle was a great representation for the smooth motion of the animated content the startup enabled, along with its ambitions in the ad world and content-creation ecosystems. The logo's icon is a sickle surrounding an image engulfing a sphere – a titan engulfing the world. Even the acronym was considered: CR (Conversion Rate), Onus (Duty, Responsibility, Obligation).
Nico: Milton Glaser (creator of the I ❤ NY logo) once said, "There are three responses to a piece of design: yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for." What makes a great logo design? How do you effectively analyze a logo?
Shahar: I completely agree about the "wow" effect as the aimed-for response, but not with it being the purpose of a logo. Glaser created I ❤ NY 40 years ago as a promotional tourism campaign, a very successful ad campaign that far exceeded its original goals. It has become a symbol appreciated by New Yorkers themselves (not a small achievement in its own right).If you're aiming at exposure and buzz, then a "wow" effect is the only purpose.
However, when planning a logo for a business in today's world, this effect is certainly desired but not enough. I'd analyze a logo by its level of success in achieving its purpose – the emotional response it provokes, the story it delivers, the public image it enforces and how it contributes to the way a brand/business is conceived. All of these combined make a logo stand out and remembered in the way the brand aims to be perceived. A "wow" effect is a great first step, but I measure a good logo by its performance over time.
Nico: Last but not least, why should I hire someone to design me a logo professionally?
Shahar: I can say that if you are a professional, you need a professional logo. If you want to be perceived as a professional, you need a professional logo. And if you aim at being a professional sometime in the future, you need a professional logo.
Our world today is visually enhanced to such a level that creating a brand identity is no longer enough. You also need to be distinguished from the competition in a way that will achieve the goals you've set for yourself. What's more, you need to allow room for slight changes in those as you fine-tune your business along the way, and your logo has to allow that.
Marketing experts will tell you that the key to good promotion is creating good original content – a logo is your one-time constant original content. As weird as it may sound, it needs to take into consideration the unknowns in your business's future and represent it during all of its developmental stages. You can achieve it by distilling a business to its core values, goals, and ambitions, and a professional designer will be able to translate those into the perfect logo.
Shahar's philosophical approach to design really shines through. He explained perfectly why designers and brands need to look for more than just a quick "wow." It's a thoughtful approach that demonstrates your values and gives everyone room to grow and evolve in the future. It's not unrealistic to combine that "wow" with the emotional storytelling Shahar recommends. But is it too much to ask from a mere mortal? Fortunately, there are pros like Shahar and his studio working on branding excellence.
Does your logo give you room to grow and change mission without rebranding? Do you think it sends a different message to internal and external stakeholders? Tell us in the comments!