Tag Archive for logo design

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.

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.

A Logo That Was Almost Lost in Translation

Illustrator and designer Alex Trochut has called New York City home for the past four years. A Barcelona native, he is fluent in all things design from logos and identity work, to editorial, advertising, fashion, and music. He tends to use expressive lettering often in his work to create movement and rapture.

Last year, he was asked to design the logo for a pair of businesses in Barcelona—a daytime restaurant and a cocktail bar, with gender-bending names: El Mama for the restaurant, and La Papa for the bar. Spanish language traditionally pairs “la” with feminine references and “el” with masculine. Trochut explains, “In Spanish, ‘la papa’ means going on a bender. It’s a funny translation… a take on very good conditions for bad habits.”

With this in mind, he went through a lot of ideas, going back and forth with the client. “I’m more of an illustrator than a designer. If something was very bold visually, it wasn’t really working as a logo. But if I designed something really simple that worked as a logo, applied to many things, the client found it too boring. We were in between all the time,” Trochut notes.

He stepped back and started experimenting with lettering and the names. “The structure of the two words have a lot in common. They share the same vocals and the same number of letters.” He put the words on top of each other, and then he saw it: “The faces came in, and suddenly the idea changed. The style that I was using in the end lead me to the idea.”

Read rest of article here.

A Duo of Glitschkas

Von Glitschka has been in the logo trenches for more than 20 years. His illustrative logo solutions are as varied as his clients—from local brewers, pubs, and mechanics to national artisanal brands, sports monikers, and software companies – and no doubt you’ve seen his work right here at LogoLounge over the years. We’re thrilled to have him as one of our esteemed judges for LogoLounge 10. In addition to designing logos, he also does lettering, patterns, characters, and icons, and he has authored and illustrated several how-to books on creating vector-based art.

Although he’s done quite well on his own all these years, he took on a partner of sorts last year when he hired his daughter, Savannah, as a full time designer and illustrator after she completed the two year design program at Chemeketa Community College. Here we talk to him about going from a solopreneur to working with his daughter.

Was it an easy transition?

While she was going through school, I’d hire her on a freelance basis to work with me on some projects, and it worked really well. She helped in the exploration on the Dungeons and Dragons brand mark I did, and she helped me create all the art for my Take and Make book.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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On the Road with Aaron Draplin

Aaron Draplin needs no fancy introduction in this part of the logo hemisphere. He has rocked the design world in the last year, surprising even skeptics, with his bestselling book Pretty Much Everything, which details his work and reveals much about himself–the man behind the big beard.

As a judge for this year’s LogoLounge competition, we wanted to catch up with him and get the highs and lows of his whirlwind book tour last fall, in which he visited 24 cities in seven weeks. And he’s going to do it all over this spring.

Give me a little background on this whirlwind tour … was it all for the book?

For the book…and for SURVIVAL. Well, mainly the book. Do graphic designers go on book tours? They do now. I wanted to take the whole story of the book to the people. I mean, why not? The book wasn’t supposed to happen in the first place, so why not tack on a 34-show, 7-week tour to the whole mess? And we did it, and, pulled it off with flying colors. All in an orange van. So proud of the whole thing.

When did you find time to actually work?

I didn’t have a lot of projects going on the tour. That freed up my nights. But when things popped up, I’d just work late in the hotel room. Or get up early and do a morning shift before we got rolling. Wherever you can find the time, you know? Might be at lunch, with my laptop open in some restaurant, suckin’ off their Wi-Fi to send a file.

Read the rest of the interview here.

 

Five Brand Personalities

Bombarded with thousands of messages daily, successful brands must constantly evolve to reach discerning subsets of the marketplace. All hispanics are not equal. All Catholics are not family friendly. All women do not love Hillary. Brands have “personalities” that appeal to specific people for specific reasons. Like people, companies put out vibes. Disney is family cheerful; FedEx is precise; Tiffany is luxurious. Duluth Trading Company is frank about “breaking wind.” You get the point.

Bill Gardner of LogoLounge explains that demographics today are not enough. You have to dig deeper to understand the personality of your buyer so you can create rhetorical and visual messages that will connect with them. ”For years experts told us the best way to measure the perception of products and companies was to analyze the demographics,” notes Gardner, “but demographics may only speak broadly—age range, male or female, ethnicity, religion, etc. When you define groups only by their demographics, you make generalizations. Demographics are not enough.”

Let’s face it: Many brand personalities are “aspirational.” People want to own/use them, because they believe it will make them look younger, smarter, richer, stronger, more handsome/beautiful, etc. Companies bank on this when building their brand. For instance: Most people who wear Nike athletic shoes, are doing it to make a fashion statement, not because they are athletes themselves.

Demographics Generalize, Psychographics Personalize

“Demographics may tell you who your potential buyers are, but they do little good when trying to define specific reasons for brand appeal. It’s a bad way to measure. You have to take the demographic blindfold off.” —Bill Gardner, LogoLounge

Instead, Gardener suggests examining buyer personalities—psychographics—to gain more insight into brand appeal and human motivation. There are five common traits that businesses possess, Gardner says, but no company possesses only one or another. Not all designers have the budget to do wide demographic/psychographic testing and market research, but getting to know the client and the product is certainly the starting point to any logo project—and, researching the competition. “If you’re dealing with companies in the same niche, you’re not going to stray terribly far from them, but at the same time, we’re all trying to find that special sauce that is unique to the client,” he says. “It really comes down to experience an intuition. Experience will tell you, not to use a whimsical mark for bank.” Here are some examples of these common traits and the markets they appeal to:

rugged

Ruggedness

Caterpillar, Dodge Ram Trucks, and Timberland are brands that suggestion ruggedness, strength, love of outdoors, durability, and muscle. “This class used to belong solely to men, but more and more women are buying these products, so the appeal is a little more broadly defined than it was in the past. It’s still rugged and strong, but women are just as likely to be attracted to these product characteristics as men—or perhaps in lieu of them.” Let’s face it: Sometimes a woman’s pick-up is more reliable than her man. You can read about the other four brand personalities, here.

Case Study: Designing a Logo for a Start-Up

Logos can be tricky beasts to design, especially for a start-up. You have to understand the client’s needs, their products and services, and the personality they want to project to their customers, and then figure out a way to graphically represent all of this in a single mark.

Experienced logo designers, like Tracy Sabin, understand the nuances inherent in this process, and what it takes to come up with a compelling design that resonates with his clients’ customers.

With more than 40 years of logo design experience under his belt, Sabin’s hand-crafted style and attention to detail bring his logo designs to life. Recently he was hired by Steve Falen, art director at Partners Creative, to design a logo for their client, Fenek Outdoor.

Fenek is a new, start up company created by two longtime outdoor product sales representatives. They make hunting blinds, carts, and other accessories for avid outdoorsmen. The name is derived from the Fennec Fox, which inhabits the Sahara Desert.

“It’s the world’s smallest fox living in one of the world’s harshest environments, and its oversized ears and fast reflexes exemplify the company’s emphasis on listening and being responsive to customers and their needs,” Falen explains. “The change in spelling is an association with the fox, but also a unique brandable handle.”

Read the rest of the article here.

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Branding Towne Bakery: A Logo Case Study

Entrepreneur and baker du jour Jason Sigala wanted to open his own bakery in Southern California, offering quality, old-fashioned American desserts made from scratch. He wanted his shop’s branding to have a decidedly mid-century East Coast look and feel. Tim Frame was commissioned to create the brand identity for this foodie start-up, that would be called Towne Bakery.

Sigala provided Frame with plenty of visual inspiration derived from traditional New York bakeries, as well as a visual audit of the competition.

Here, we ask Frame how he approached this project and how all the logo elements came together. Read the interview here.

TB sketches

Preliminary sketches by Tim Frame for Towne Bakery logo.