Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video Monogram, part of Branding for Designers.
- We usually think of the initials on a shirt or handkerchief when we hear the word monogram. It's a term and approach also used in branding and identity. A monogram is simply the initial of a company or, at times, a single letter. This is a good solution if the client has a long and unwieldy name. It also helps move a brand into new territory by eliminating a name that may no longer apply. IBM was originally International Business Machines. The first logo was an illustration of a globe and the full name.
By the time Paul Rand designed the current mark, IBM had changed and did much more than make adding machines. Moving away from the full name helped IBM evolve into other businesses. One of my favorite monograms is the NASA logo designed by Richard Danne; NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. That's a mouthful. As the agency was typically referred to as NASA, Danne rode the horse the direction it was riding and created a clear and simple monogram.
Other successful monograms include MTV, Music Television, which started with a three-dimensional form that contained a range of patterns and colors. ABC is the American Broadcasting Company. The simple circular shapes are easier to remember than the full name, and is more neutral as the brand expands into new areas. The Westinghouse logo is a merger of a symbol and the initial W that abstractly talks about electricity and connections.
The downside of a monogram is the ubiquity of acronyms in the world. There are so many versions of a set of initials that it's easy to confuse them. Is UBS a bank or television network? The upside to a monogram is faster recognition and the ability to create a brand with more options than a descriptive name.
- The history of branding (pre- and post-1950)
- The elements of branding
- Conducting research
- Solving problems and presenting solutions
- Creating logos and identity systems
- Building a visual system with color, typography, and more
- Communicating branding with manuals and vision books