LogoLounge Trends

I co-authored/edited this piece with Bill Gardner for LogoLounge.com, and it was picked up by Fast Company! It’s written in first-person, by Bill.

Each year, I write a report on logo trends, and I always look to the past before looking ahead. You can’t tell where something is going if you don’t know where it has been. There’s always a reason something goes viral or takes off—something set it in motion, good or bad. So let’s start by addressing the white elephant on the planet: COVID-19.

Crises often accelerate trends in society and design. It’s very reactive and rushed; if there were a 10-step program that we typically follow to get from point A to point B, we skipped steps six through nine to get there during a crisis. Next year, we’re probably going to see a lot of logos that emerged as a result—some will be brilliant, many more probably won’t be. No matter what, I believe the design industry is going to come out of this better than we were. Some firms will not recover. It’s going to be survival of the fittest. Having said that, we’ll see an emergence of little startups and uncover some talent we’ve never seen before. People will regroup, find their niche, and come out of this with a new resilience. This is a shared generational experience that we’ll never forget and hopefully we’ll all learn from. Next year’s batch of logos will surely reflect this.

Read the rest of the article here.

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.

 

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Building a Narrative Through Branding

Logos designed by Chad Michael often have an aura of history, as if the companies they represent have been around for hundreds of years, when in fact, most are start-ups. Crests and custom lettering often create this sense heritage. “The crest or seal structure, dates back to ancient Greece, China, and the Roman Empire. It appears on the world’s first coin currency, metalsmith markings, pottery, etc. It has evolved over time to carry immense power and memorability with everyone,” Michael explains. “The crest structure has the freedom to carry a lot of brand messaging. It can encompass illustration and typography in a demanding way that typically works well in a variety of conditions. Humans also love symmetry and a crest structure usually possesses that.”

St. Laurent

St. Laurent is a brand built on mystery and nautical references—like something that has been lost at sea. “The research and strategy brought up many older references of nautical charts, which typically possess a very illustrative crest image that contains the map name. This visual research set the foundation for the design,” he says.

The package design development also pushed the need for a crest. He notes, “As with 99 percent of the brands I design, the logo and package design are developed simultaneously. You can’t have one without the other. The crest pushed the branding to the forefront and gave it an iconic look.”

The teal color was another element that really contributed to the success of the design because it’s so unexpected in this category. It has nautical references and actually adds a sense of modernity to a design with so much vintage influence.

“The success of this product has gone beyond expectations and I am now working with the client to develop a complete range of products: A barreled aged Gin, Whiskies, and Rums,” Michael says. “Each new product will keep the same design foundation but the crest and vibrant color will change with each offering. This will give the entire brand a kinetic system of family crests.”

Birmingham

Michael is also known for his custom lettering for clients, and often those solutions have an Old World aesthetic. Birmingham Pen Co. crafts and sells quality writing instruments. “The goal behind the primary logo was to create a design that had a sense of provenance, establishment, and luxury,” he explains. “The overall inspiration came from the concept of iron-work, which is abundant throughout Pittsburgh, is one of the city’s nicknames, and evokes a strong sense of handcraft which is a strong characteristic of their products.”

In his type explorations, he toyed with this idea of iron-work in many ways while also exploring older London-inspired typography, “so the logo had the feeling that it had been around for a while. It gave it a sense of establishment.”

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Logo Lessons from a Lippincott Partner

Su Mathews Hale is senior partner at Lippincott’s San Francisco office, where she heads up branding initiatives for clients such as Hyatt, Walmart, eBay, and Shutterstock. Prior to joining Lippincott more than 10 years ago, she was an associate partner at Pentagram in New York. Hale is currently president of the National AIGA.

We’re so pleased to have her on our panel of judges for this year’s LogoLounge competition. Here, she gives us some advice on creating effective and endearing identity programs.

When working on a large branding project, is the logo always the first thing to consider?

The logo is one of the considerations, but rarely the first. The most important thing to consider is the business strategy and to ensure that the creative vision aligns with where the company is headed. Things designers need to ask themselves, is what does the brand stand for? What’s happening in the company (growth, new products, broader customer base) that the design needs to accommodate for? Most successful companies get to a point where they need a visual facelift to stay modern and relevant, but even in those cases the logo redesign is second to the strategy of the company and changing needs of the customer.

Read the rest of the interview at LogoLounge 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.

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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 at LogoLounge here.

 

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One Letter Says it All

Last year Pentagram partner Emily Oberman and her team, were hired to brand a new kind of social club/coworking space in New York City for smart, successful women. Unlike traditional men’s social clubs that feature dark walls lined with taxidermy in an old world sense of style, The Wing is light and contemporary. It’s a haven for professional women looking to catch up on work, socialize with other likeminded women, read, grab a cup of coffee, even take a shower or get a blow-out before heading out for the night.

Oberman, who counts herself as a person for whom The Wing was created, was thrilled to be involved in the branding. “When we met with Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassen (cofounders of The Wing), it was love at first meeting. We all shared a similar sense of intelligent humor, design, style, and activism,” Oberman recalls. “The more we talked and shared inspirations, the more we felt that we could create something great together.”

The identity features 30 different Ws, which can be a risky move, but Oberman says it felt right. “The team picked a bunch of Ws to represent all of the women who make up the wing, and they said yes to all of them. Audrey did feel strongly that we needed a ‘hero’ W, so we collectively chose the one you see most often,” she explains. “We chose it because it is strong and curvy.” The different Ws embody a range of styles from eclectic, fun, sexy, smart, and serious. There is no one way to define a woman, after all.

Read the rest of the article at LogoLounge here.

 

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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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Logo Design Lessons from 5 Summer Blockbusters

It’s that time of year, when the summer blockbusters are released to much fanfare with overblown, Hollywood budgets. But with so many movies hitting the theaters at once, it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to see. Fortunately, you can usually judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a movie by its title treatment and logo design. Here, Matthew Jervis and I discuss five movie logo treatments and how they stack up in the frenzied Hollywood landscape. We’ll ponder why some logos work and others don’t.

Ghostbusters

One of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer, Ghostbusters, has come a long way, featuring an all-female cast in this remake, but one thing hasn’t changed at all: the logo. Devised by designer Michael Gross and Brent Boates more than 32 years ago, the logo has not been cleaned up, touched up, or tweaked in any way. Its genius in its simplicity.

But Gross never thought it would see the light of day, as he explained in an old interview. “The logo was in the script. The guys in the film had this logo on their shirts,” so had to devise something long before the production started. So, he came up with the concept of a ghost coming out of a “no” symbol, and asked Boates to comp up several variations. He never expected the logo to take hold the way it did, yet here we are 32 years later, and it still endures.

In the 1989 sequel, the logo was cleverly changed to show the ghost holding up two fingers. Ghostbusters merchandise has been flying off the virtual shelves of online retail outlets, showing that a good logo will stand the test of time, even if it’s for a fictional company.

Take away: Don’t mess with success.

Finding Dory

“The sequel to Finding Nemo, uses the same unique typeface, but it works better with Dory,” says Jervis. “The big round letter shapes of the ‘D’ and the ‘O’ in Dory make it look a little clunky.” Whatever little design issues we have with the type treatment, doesn’t seem to affect box office sales, as Finding Dory had the highest grossing debut of all time for an animated feature.

Take away: “Sometimes sticking with the branded look doesn’t work, but you go with it anyway.”

Suicide Squad

This movie, based on the DC Comic, has all the trappings of an action-based thriller, featuring a team of dangerous villains sent on a covert mission. Jervis says of the logo, “The punk rock aesthetic with a thrown-together placement really reflects the theme of the film. I like this logo for that reason.”

Take away: “The logo lives up to the expectations of the film.”

The Nice Guys

With leading men like Russell Growe and Ryan Gosling, you can hardly go wrong, but the title type treatment may be a little misleading. It seems to indicate this is a fun romp through the disco decade. “It’s a Cool logo typeface, pretty 1970 cliché look. It captures the time this film is set, but doesn’t reflect that the story is pretty dang violent.”

Take away: “We like the kitchy disco ’70s vibe. It always sells.”

Eat That Question

The documentary on the always controversial Frank Zappa, captures his story in mostly his own words. Unfortunately, the title design lacks any of the quirky tendencies of the artist, himself. He was an eccentric, eclectic musician known for speaking his mind, no matter the consequence, but the generic lettering overprinted on his face, doesn’t give the audience much to chew on. Jervis notes, “Apparently the studio decided not to spend any money on a real title design.”

Take away: You get what you pay for.