Winning Logo Design Strategies from 9 Industry Leaders

Andreas Karl

“First: Look through all 265,000 logos in the LogoLounge library and see what other graphic designers have done before. It keeps you from creating doubles, and from following an idea that already exists. Second: Look at the logos of companies like Nike, Apple, Mercedes Benz, CocaCola, and ask yourself ‘What makes these logos so good?’ And third: If your design colleagues all go right, then take the road to the left! Creating good logos has nothing to do with following trends or copying the styles and ideas of others.”

Aaron Draplin

“Zoom in, then zoom back out. Look for things meshing or problematic areas. … Just that quick. It’s a privilege to do this. One year before I got into this game, people were taking photos of logos with Photostat cameras and shit, waiting four days just to see how their logos looked. Just zoom out for a second on your screen! And then, adjust accordingly.”

Su Mathews Hale

“Do a lot of research to get grounded. It’s your job as a designer to understand the business. Keep your audience/customer top of mind. Sketch in black and white first; it’s easier to see if an idea is strong without added bells and whistles of color and gradients. Ask yourself ‘What’s the idea?’ Test the strength of the logo in the environment in which it will live—you will rarely see a logo on a white piece of paper without any other context.”

Felix Sockwell

“Start with pencil to paper, and don’t hop on the computer right away. Get the problem solved before you start executing it. Do more typographic research and use typefaces that are historically correct.”

Yo Santosa

“Don’t try to tell the entire brand story in a logo. The simpler the shape, the more memorable it becomes.”

Von Glitschka

“The common denominator in a great logo is a core concept—a great idea encapsulating distinct meaning in a fun and clever way that is executed with impeccable craftsmanship to bring it to life. Many have good ideas, but fell a bit short on the build end of the design equation. Then there are a lot of precisely crafted logos that are just shallow in meaning—they aren’t bad, they just lack soul. Idea plus craftsmanship—both are needed to be successful with brand-centric design, but doing so isn’t always easy.”

Alex Tass

“A successful logo may mean many things, but I would say to always try your best, try to be unique, try to be clever, try to reach that ‘wow’ effect.”

Emily Oberman

“Strive for clarity, simplicity and a little bit of wit.”

Chad Michael

“Don’t recreate anything you see others doing unless you are evolving it to make it your own. Be daring and take risks. Remember, great logos tell a story.”

Read the original article here.

Thinking in Icons

Icons have become such a ubiquitous way of life for most of us, that we don’t often think about them. And the point is, we shouldn’t, unless they misguide us or leave us confused. In Felix Sockwell’s new book, Thinking in Icons, he walks readers through the process of designing icons and the subtle nuances that can make or break the design.

“Icons affect our daily lives, similar to typography. It’s something we don’t take much notice of until it’s wrong,” Sockwell says. “For instance, in Penn Station—a place where millions of commuters pass through—there’s an icon in the main hall that denotes ‘gift shops,’ showing a pipe, a gift (with ribbon), and a book. It makes no sense to most people. And no one sells pipes–you can’t even smoke outside in many New York City public spaces–but that icon has been there forever, and it probably always will be. I find strange pleasure pointing out odd things like this to people. It’s one of the reasons I’m no longer married.”

He’s also fascinated by the evolution of some icons, such as the “share” icon. “It started out clunky, within a box and with rounded edges. Now it’s a 3D arrow, and it’s quite effective,” he notes. “A lot of mistakes turn into good, useable icons. My book is an honest conversation about how icons are used, designed, conceived and understood. Designing icons isn’t a sexy or even known practice within the profession. Most designers take it upon themselves to either use an old system or tweak things to feel new or proprietary. I’m more interested in the bigger steps and mistakes that lead to workable solutions.”

And he shares it all in the book, admitting in the introduction, “Ninety percent of the work shown within these pages is completely fake—drawn up in the sidebars of actual assignments. Some of them are redrafted explorations, staged buffoonery cloaked in optimism.” Even so, you get a front row seat into the thought process, and the many considerations that go into a simple mark. To see two projects featured in the book, click here.

 

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LogoLounge’s Superstar Panel of Judges Announced

It’s on! The competition for LogoLounge 10 is heating up and the judging panel is hotter than ever. The breadth of the work done by this group of international judges encompasses the largest swath of name brand identities under one roof … err … website, including Facebook, Apple, WalMart, eBay, The Today Show, Patagonia, Nike, Mac Cosmetics, Gevalia, and Verizon, just to name a few.

Normally eight judges comprise the panel, but this year LogoLounge founder Bill Gardner upped the ante to ten, because he’s expecting more entries than ever before. “Some folks don’t realize that this competition is probably the single largest and most competitive with 25,000-30,000 entries historically,” he notes. “We decided it would give each entry more scrutiny if we expanded the panel, and with this the tenth anniversary, pushing the panel to ten was a natural.”

The judges this year include:

 

“We’ve always been fortunate to have strong judges, often with name brand value, to guide us to the very best of our submissions. This year, we’re introducing a digital version of the book that will have dramatically broader distribution, so we went back to a few of our past jurors,” Gardner says. “These are designer favorites the industry loves, and we also reached out to a new generation of superstars with amazing talents.” The make-up of the panel is a good blend of designers and illustrators with broad skill sets like typography and letterforms, symbols and marks, conceptual to illustrative, and boutique to international. This diversity ensures a compelling selection of designs.

Several of the judges have been featured in past LogoLounge books. Gardner has noted that Felix Sockwell, was subscriber No. 1 to LogoLounge.com, and also served as one of the first judges. Von Glitschka has also judged before, and his work has been featured in nearly every LogoLounge book as well. “It was ten years ago that another designer picked up a LogoLounge account and submitted about 50 amazingly crafted marks. Seems like the judges loved him too, and picked close to half of his work for the book,” Gardner recalls. That person was Aaron Draplin, and he has been a LogoLounge supporter ever since. Gardner adds, “He is one of the most genuine individuals I’ve ever met, and deserving of every success he’s earned.”

It’s no accident that the best logos in the world end up in the book because the people selecting them know what comprises a great logo design and how it will resonate with its intended audience. No one walks into a LogoLounge book just because they submitted. It’s a healthy competition where only the strong survive.

As an added bonus this year, LogoLounge is teaming up with HOW, which will feature a sampling of the top-rated selections in its Summer issue. “We’re excited to share the best logo entries with the HOW audience, and discuss the merits of why these logos work so well,” Gardner says.

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Clear Winner: Jonathan Selikoff, Letterpress Artist

Designer, typographer, and letterpress artist Jonathan Selikoff started his studio Vote for Letterpress in 2010 because he had to.

Selikoff wanted to buy a Vandercook press to add to his weekender print set-up in his garage. “I found one in Ithaca, but there was a catch. It came with a Heidelberg Windmill, a manual paper cutter (old-school guillotine), and a lot of wood and metal type. After checking with the boss (my wife, Lauren), we decided that I’d just buy it all and open up a shop.”

That is the moment when Selikoff’s avocation became his vocation. Today, his letterpress shop includes a Vandercook, a flatbed cylinder press, and a Heidelberg Windmill automated platen press (see this marvel of German engineering here).

Selikoff’s letterpress habit began when he was a 12-year-old boy attending summer camp. “At camp we made stationery using a tabletop press,” he recalls. “I loved it. The seed was planted.” His formal education began at Emory University in Atlanta, where he majored in history. Between his junior and senior years there, he won an internship in the art department of Atlanta Magazine. The experience attracted him to graphic design. After graduating from Emory, he enrolled at Portfolio Center/Atlanta (Miami Ad School and Portfolio Center recently merged). His years there, he says, “were transformative.”

While studying at PC, Selikoff’s fascination with “old school technology” grew. “In art school, a bunch of us loved to visit vintage goods shops around Atlanta. I’d poke through whatever type or printing stuff they had, and ended up buying things I found interesting.” These treasure hunts were the beginning of a fantastic library of objects and letterforms he’d later put to use on the letterpress. Read the rest here.

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Design by Graham Clifford; Hand lettering by Wells Collins; Letterpress by Vote for the Letterpress.

Why Client-Killed Design Projects Are A Blessing in Disguise

Designer/illustrator Felix Sockwell is known for his illustrative, fluid line work. When looking at his pieces it appears that his pen never left the page, as each idea and object is interconnected into a larger narrative. This quick wit and ability to translate seemingly complex ideas into simple, iconographic solutions have gained Sockwell many fans and clients. But it’s not all fun and games. Occasionally, even he hits a wall with a client.

Below, Sockwell walks us through three design projects that were killed, and explains why he believes in reincarnation.

Weedhire

My soccer pal Vlad called and asked me for a “favor,” one in which I did not take to mean as “free” (which would come back to haunt me). He is one of my best friends and most of us on the soccer team consider him wealthy (he wouldn’t). Regardless, he’s a great guy—smart in business and a family man.

He tells me he has a new business called Weedhire, an employment agency for the cannabis industry. He said, “You’re the expert. You tell me what works. Just do something fast.”

What Vlad probably didn’t realize is that designing an identity is kind of intimate, like sex. It takes time. You have to talk. And talk some more. And be honest with one another.

I showed Vlad a few things and his response was to take all the creativity out of it. He said, “Make it look like a bank.” So as I began researching bank logos, I started feeling like a conversation was needed. I picked up the phone and asked if this was intended to be more than a conservative place to find a job in the cannabis industry. I never got a clear response on what the strategy is or was, but by the third day (when I realized I had just wasted a lot of energy doing logos for free), he said he would just have his web designer pop a pot leaf in a box in five minutes. Which is exactly what he did.

I hold no grudge (OK maybe a little, I’m showing the work here), but what struck me about the experience was that some people—good, smart people—care absolutely nothing about how a logo looks or speaks. Design is a HUGE part of your business plan if you’re in the “people” industry. The “lady leaferty” in the center, which I believe to be a smart, conservatively drawn, creative idea, is an idea that I hope someone sees and actually wants to pay for. See the other two projects here.

Perfectly Imperfect: Human Connection

Although letterpress printing is a traditional, laborious process, and flies in the face of modern technology, it’s never been more popular. People crave the beautiful imperfections and sensory experience of this timeless media, and designers value the handiwork and intrinsic qualities it adds to their creative output. In this feature post, we show the designs of Felix Sockwell, Gary Rozanc and Chad Michael, plus the printing talent John Selikoff (Vote for Letterpress Press, South Orange, NJ), the craftsmen and women at Studio on Fire (MPLS), and Gary Rozanc himself. Read the article here.

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NPR poster detail by Felix Sockwell.