d30n LLC, Branding and Design, Portland Oregon

Cortez Family Dentistry, a dental practice in Cortez, Colorado contacted me to help them develop a logo for their new practice. My client was moving from NW Washington back to Colorado to open a dental practice and wanted to make a recognizable logo to define their business and build their brand.


We held a meeting so I could ask a series of questions in order to develop a design brief. The primary messages the logo was to convey about the practice was precision and compassion. It was also a goal of mine to develop designs where an uprooted tooth wasn’t the primary graphic. The “pulled tooth” icon has been used to identify dentists from the beginning of the profession. Besides being overused, it represents a traumatic procedure, so we asked; “if the tooth was to be shown, how could it be presented in a unique light to differentiate it from the other logos that focus primarily on a tooth”.

Another important element to Dr. Ned’s practice is that he incorporates cutting edge microscope technology that only 4% of other dentists in the U.S. are using right now. And his philosophy is that the higher level of treatment allows him to be more precise, and allows for longer lasting dental care. This was the primary inspiration for the logo they eventually chose to represent their company.


I presented a range of three layout options to the client – the logo that was chosen I call the “Cortez Cross” and it was derived from a Hopi ziggurat design to tie it into the local culture, a medical cross because it’s recognized as the universal icon for health care, and a cross hairs because it’s universally recognized icon for precision and accuracy.


Compared to the other logo options, the clients liked having “Cortez Family” side-by-side and stacked on the word “Dentistry”, but there was a concern that there needed to be more emphasis on the words Cortez Family. In the second round I presented a new version that incorporated a compressed and regular version of Ubuntu. Using the compressed typeface for the words Cortez Family allowed me to increase the point size and provide more emphasis to the text.

FontReviewOnce the direction for the logo was chosen it was time to start exploring color palettes. I had several ideas in mind, and the client suggested using colors found in the South Western Colorado landscape, so I gathered several color options together and started to see how the colors interacted together on the chosen design.


There were many combinations that were explored to learn how the application of color changed the impact of this logo. For example, a red cross feels much differently than a blue cross and it’s possible to achieve different moods with the same colors applied in different areas.

The first color combinations I presented to the client focused on a turquoise blue, bright red and a hit of yellow or green. It turns out that the intensity of the colors got a mixed reaction. They felt the red was eye catching but had too much urgency, and there were questions if the blue and green logos were a good match to what they had initially envisioned.


I shared a second round of examples that were more subdued with the client at our meeting, and they felt more comfortable when they saw the warmer colors applied to the logo. The colors aren’t as saturated, but they’re still vibrant. The deep brick red is closer in hue to the red soil around Cortez, and is another way the logo ties in to the community. This deep color is balanced with a rich sunset orange and a turquoise inset in the heart of the logo.

Logo-AnatomyThroughout the process I applied the logo samples to several items I thought would provide a real-world view of the logo being used so the clients could properly judge what it looks like within context of their website, scrubs, take away bag, and business card.

ExPcs BuissCardsThe final deliverables were the three color logo with one color variations formatted for all color spaces (PMS, CMYK, RGB and web Safe).



Check back in the near future to see some printed collateral that shows the logo in real world applications.