Branding Process & Development: Tolono Public Library

3 min read
in Blog, Design
Tolono Public Library District logo

Having a strong visual brand is something that can benefit businesses of all sizes and fields. Recently, we worked with the Tolono Public Library to redesign their logo and provide them with a brand that really captures the essence of the library.

How to start: Do your research.

Every designer has their own unique process to achieve their end result, but mine starts with copious amounts of research. Knowing how similar businesses present their brand identity can be very helpful, especially when trying to avoid cliché imagery. My initial research for the library resulted in pages and pages of logos with the library name and a single book. None of them were captivating at all; none of them drew you in. But it did provide good examples of what not to do!

Now for the intimidating part–starting with a blank page.

If you don’t have any ideas right off the bat, this can lead to long periods of blank staring while you wait for ideas. To fight this, I try to create a vision board of sorts. A simple page with color and font options can really inspire ideas, and help nail a feel for the entire project. Finding the right aesthetic can be challenging, though. My vision boards often change many times throughout the course of a project.

When I first talked with Janet at the library, she mentioned that they serve a number of rural communities–Sadorus, Savoy, and of course Tolono. Stories that are unique to the business or organization can help generate ideas that keep branding from looking too boring.

What’s next? Creating an icon or wordmark that is simple, unique, and meaningful.

This is what people see first. Even when you aren’t paying any attention, your brain still subconsciously remembers it, and will often trigger an emotional response to it. For example, everyone knows McDonald’s by those golden arches. Just because a business is smaller doesn’t mean their brand image can’t be every bit as strong.

Every project has its own challenges, and with the Tolono Public Library the biggest one was coming up with a concept that wasn’t just a single book, but still was relevant to a library. I looked for interesting visuals everywhere I could think of. The most unique part I found was the large pentagon window that is above the doorway. I explored that, abstracted it, and eventually came up with a solution that worked perfectly.

The final result.

mockup of Tolono Public Library logo

This mockup shows how the new logo may be used at the library.

The new logo for the Tolono Public LIbrary is a group of three books that are abstracted to create an interlocking shape representative of the three different communities that utilize the library. The color scheme has three distinct colors that are all bright and lively to properly convey the atmosphere and friendliness of the staff. Finally, it is paired with a modern sans serif font to show their progression as a modern library. These all come together to create a meaningful foundation for their new identity.

You’ll see that new identity put into place when we finish our next project for them, which is a complete redesign of their website. Check them out (before and after) at

Meet the Author

Pat has always been enthusiastic about portraying information visually, and aims to do so in unique and clever ways.

In his free time Pat enjoys playing and listening to music. He loves playing guitar and drums, but still hasn’t mastered playing both at once.

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