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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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.