Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video Three suggestions for your next logo, part of Learning Graphic Design: Techniques.
There I was at my desk working, and an email arrives from a friend of mine, Clayton, who is a videographer. And all it said was, do you like this or do you like this? He's working on a business card for himself. And I had to laugh, because I'm a big fan of understatement. But this is so understated, it's kind of like not stated at all. A completely nondescript typeface. This is Century Gothic Bold Italic, and nothing's happening. So, thinking minimal, I said, well, of the two, I'll take the one without the underline.
And underline is normally used for differenciation. Which, in this case, is not nessecary. He said thank you very much. And the next day, he sent me another one. He said he got thinking about this and really, maybe, what needed to happen was that it needed to be in a box. Alright, there's at least some commonality with the typeface and the box. Because the typeface is upright and the box is also upright.
And this can be used as a single design element. It will run in black. It will run in white. Those are the good things about it. The down side is that it's really just totally nondescript. Anyway, that happened to come in at a moment when on my screen was this typeface. I was over on the Behance website, and I ran across this incredibly exotic typeface called Accent. Accent is made of nothing but superfine circles and straight lines. And the interesting this is that all the corners are filled in. It's a display face.
You're going to, going to want to use this for maybe one word. Kind of like this. It can make a beautiful poster, it can make an album cover. Anyway, so here I am looking at Accent, and Clayton's nondescript logo comes in. And so, I just kind of idelly typed MooreDVD in Accent, added the color, and sent it over to him. And he loved it. And it's like, well kind of yes.
If you've been looking at this, you're going to think this is pretty cool. And so, here's the first thing I want you to know. What I told Clayton was, all right, you really like this, but this is so radical. Just kind of so out there, so different from what you were doing, you need to just pin this to your wall and look at it for a week, or two weeks, and think about it. Just think about it and see if you still like it in a week. And if you do, we can start talking about how to work with it.
The other thing with this, is that because the type is so thin on a monitor, it looks brilliant. But in print or at smaller sizes, it's going to begin breaking up and virtually disappearing as it's doing on this video. And this is a physical problem that we'll have to solve if we use this. So that was it. I went back to work. Two weeks later, I get another email from Clayton, and in it is this.
And he said, I still like it. I was thinking about how to make it work. So, what I did was add a stroke to all the letters. And he's changed the colors too. And what happened is that the heavy stroke changed the character of this typeface. Where before, those super fine lines were very elegant, sophisticated, just really exotic even, now they're ordinary. And the counters, which are the shapes inside the letters, start looking kind of cartoony.
Like they're little bubbles or something, sort of Jetson style. And it has a completely different look and feel from the original. Although, it does reproduce better. The second thing is, what's with the little red dot? And Clayton said, well, the little red dot is to represent a recording light. And that's kind of a cool idea. But here's the second thing I want you to know. Don't put two visual tricks in the same logo. You can use just the typeface, because it has all the character, all the tone, all the mood, all the expression that you'd want, or you can use a dot.
A dot is a completely different message. I think about a dot differently when I relate it to a recording light. You know, I'm thinking of camera, I'm thinking of studio, I'm thinking of dark, I'm thinking of low key, understated. And also, for me, I'm thinking this a very powerful little image. And I get all interested in the dot. It's like, this dot could make a great logo for Clayton, the videographer. It's understated, it's low key and this typeface, this is FF Din, spelled d, i, n.
It looks like the white engraving you will see on your camera body. Just the name and the dot. Really, very evocative, super simple, you can run it in any media, any place. You can add it to a business card. And I just whipped up a quick example. I love the understatedness of it. The dot alone in a field, like that recording light is on. His business name, his contact information, some of which I've hidden from you. Anyway, the dot I liked.
So, I sent this back to Clayton. And that's where the project stands right now. We'll see what happens next. So, here's what I want you to take away from this. One, Live with it. If you make something, especially a radical something. But this should be true with almost everything. Live with it for a while. Put it on your wall, put it on your desk, make a business card, make whatever you need, and leave images lying around your office, so you can encounter them in different environments.
And just live with it, and see if you like it in a week. See if you like it in two weeks. See if it's working for you. Next, One trick per logo. This is true of almost all design. It's just not just logo, but limit yourself to one kind of visual expression. And three, a dot is all it takes. And it's really a common mistake. Not a mistake, but a common temptation in doing logo design, to make these elaborate images. You know, with type, and graphics, and effects, and telling whole little stories with illustrations.
But really, a dot is all it takes.
This course was created and produced by the Before & After magazine team. We are honored to host this content in our library.
- How to design a logo fast
- Designing a business card
- Understanding the power of empty space
- Typesetting a list of names
- Working around a weak photo