Join Bill Gardner for an in-depth discussion in this video Stars: A symbol of excellence, part of Logo Design: Shapes and Symbols.
When working with symbols, it's important to remember that there are hundreds of them, and different cultures might well have varying interpretations of them. Always be aware of other symbols that might translate well into your design. The following symbols are in no way a comprehensive list, but they are some of the most universal, and best accepted, for a number of reasons. The star is just one of those symbols, that can be found in some fashion, in cultures around the world. Did you know that there's a star of one kind or another, worked into the national flags of nearly a third of the countries in the world? That's a pretty high acceptance level for this funny shape.
Consider this, the star is synonymous with examples of excellence. A literal star is a source of light that gives direction, and radiates, and allows us to see. When you need to use visual superlatives to define your clients, there may be a star in the solution. Each of these logos give you the sense of an entity striving to be the best that they can be. The Athletes for Hope logo shows me a football, or maybe a rugby player, running for a goal. The way the player appears in the negative space allows the designer to split the star into red, white, and blue, to show some nationalism.
It's not always critical that the star is the primary shape, or the central focus, to integrate it into your design. In fact, if your objective is to show that your client strives to create excellence for others, you may want the star to play a supporting role in the marque. I love this marque, for the Top preschool program, that's designed to prepare disadvantaged children to achieve excellence. Notice the student is reaching for the star, but not holding it.
I understand that this is an attainable goal, but the child must stretch himself to reach it. Some of the most gratifying goals are not self achievements, but are the efforts of many. Look at how these designers have created this symbol of excellence in the negative space formed when assembling multiple parts working in unison. Think about your client's accomplishments. Are they the work of an individual or a team? The nice analogy here, is that when you remove a single link in the chain, the star vanishes.
There's an equal contribution to achieve success. I've always been enamored by visual solutions that appear in the negative space of a logo. I believe that consumers find the symbology in the open area second, and it can often lead to that a-ha moment, that they will remember longer because they discovered it on their own. There are so many individual meanings to a star. Like law enforcement, or military, or nationalism, or ritual or religious beliefs, or astronomy. One universal star association is that of entertainment and an individual becoming a celebrity.
This has always been a go-to symbol, for projects in the industry, that are larger then life. At last count,there are nearly 2,500 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which averages better than 10 million tourists a year. That's a pretty good statistic for just how popular a star can really be. Lastly, don't allow yourself to be trapped into thinking a star has to have five points. There are many ways to imagine a star, and equally as many associated meanings.
Every one of these logos incorporates a star as a central focus, but they are all vastly different. Now that you see the possibilities for working with stars, explore what yours might look like. And above all remember Saul Bass's advice. Don't avoid clichés; use them in a fresh way.
- Why common shapes are so powerful
- Where stars, hearts, and shields get their meaning
- How using lines in unique ways can impart a message
- What repetition says to a viewer
- When personification is the right strategy