The Origin of the TeeFury Logo

This post is an attempt to catalog the creation of the TeeFury logo and the general design process I tended to follow 10 years. I wrote this around 2009 and am reposting for posterity. I was a co-founder of Teefury.com and designed (and coded) the original logo, brand and site (yeah PHP and MySQL!).


Time was running out. With only 30 days until launch of teefury.com we needed a logo like a fat man needs a doughnut. I had drained a few microns and burned through a Moleskine or two trying to create the perfect logo, but all my efforts were just redefinitions of FAIL. However, in a moment of dark desperation, the Teefury bird was miraculously born.

Lets start at the beginning (naturally). I have a few die hard logo rules (which I break all the time).

A Logo should

  1. Be simple — clean lines and easily recognizable.
  2. Be symmetrical — asymmetrical logos are a nightmare to design with.
  3. Works as one color— looks great in black and white or color.
  4. Be readable — should look great teeny tiny or big and hefty.
  5. Serve the business — Some element related to the product or service.
  6. Be memorable — an element of the logo should be novel and unexpected.

Step 1 — Brainstorm with Pen and Paper.

Step away from the computer and start drawing. Let your mind wander. Stay away from all the online logo repositories. I think I drew around 103 logos and type treatments when coming up with the teefury logo.

Step 2 — Digitize Your Best Ideas.

Using a vector program like Illustrator, dive in and start mocking. Try not to use a raster based program like Photoshop or MS Paint (Although a pure MS Paint Logo could be kinda cool in a very Apple IIE kind of way). Nothing more frustrating than creating a logo in a raster program like Photoshop only to realize later your work was done in 72 dpi and is impossible to scale up or really change. Illustrator has amazing control of gradients, blending modes and transparencies so rest assured your big shiny aqua looking logo can be created in Illustrator.

At this point you should be narrowing down which logos really resonate and capture your product or service. For TeeFury, we wanted the brand to be fun and approachable but also convey a sense of urgency (we are a 24 hour t-shirt site after all), so for some reason I kept thinking of fire and loosey type.

(2019 Marc is looking at these and is embarrassed)

Step 3 — Solicit Honest Feedback

For me a logo has to have that “ah-ha!” moment where it just feels right for the project. I am a big believer in getting as much feedback as possible from all sorts of sources (positive and negative). Hopefully you have some good friends who are honest with you and can tell you if you’re work is crap or not. If you get a lot of “hey, that’s nice” or “oh, I like it” or my personal favorite, “hmm, interesting” then your logo is probably passable, but not iconic enough to qualify as a brand mark.

I was getting mixed reviews on the TeeFury logos I had created thus far and nothing was really resonating with anyone (including myself). I decided a sacrifice was in order. I had a logo I used for a long time on my freelance invoices. I’m not sure why I offered up the logo, I think more than anything we just needed something different and unique and we needed it NOW! So I grabbed my Hemeon logo and shared it with Matt G (Matt and his brother Jason were fellow co-founders).

(note the fat bottom, and lack of lightning bolt).

Step 4 — Iterate and Ship!

We both agreed the bird was fun and really created a unique identity for the brand, however, she had a little too much junk in the trunk and could use a bit more personality. So I firmed up her bottom and Matt G. added the crowning touch, the Bolt in the eye (wish I had thought of that one). We instantly both fell in love and breathed a sigh of relief as the TeeFury logo was born.

The original TeeFury.com ran a limited run of tees each day, so for kicks I came up with a dead bird to indicate that the daily t-shirt was sold out. The TeeFury dead bird was the first deviation of the TeeFury logo, little did I know the TeeFury family tree was just beginning and would soon spawn a massive mutation of awesome TeeFury birds created by folks from all over the world — here were some of my original deviations:

These later gave way to our First TeeFury Collaboration with artists:

We printed a collab tee with all the awesome TeeFury birds.

Jimiyo joined us as art director of DesignByHumans.com and introduced a new character into the TeeFury mix (as well as cats and unicorns). You may know him as Teevil.

TeeFury.com just turned one, and as a result even more TeeFury bird mutations have spawned!

TeeFury collab part 2!

I’m no longer at TeeFury, but I check in from time to time to say hi to my dear old friend and all his cousins.

Have a favorite logo or want to share a tip about logo design? Please share in the comments!