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  • A logo is an extension of who you are or what you do.

  • There has to be a reason for it. It should be something that someone is drawn to.

  • A successful logo can almost saying nothing.

  • We think of a logo as something that can hold everything. It's informed and reinforced by the

  • things that we see everyday and it's important to acknowledge that

  • entire invisible vocabulary.

  • Logos go back to

  • deep antiquity. It was a single image of

  • something that was used

  • as an expression of the individual. And they represented a thought, an idea, or even

  • a product perhaps.

  • Aristocracy, for example, would have shields and those are basically complex logos

  • and not everybody was literate so pictorial means were ways of getting around

  • that illiteracy.

  • In ancient Rome you'll find mosaics and those mosaics are pictures of tradesmen.

  • So you'd see an elephant which would mean somebody has been to Africa

  • or you'd see dolphins which means somebody's probably dealing in fish.

  • So all of these things indicated who

  • the merchant was

  • and i think that's the beginning of the logo.

  • Logos increased exponentially as commerce increased, industry increased, as

  • technology increased and there was more and more competition. Logos have gone

  • from being very Victorian looking to very modern looking,

  • meaning they're more economical.

  • So logo designers have to have a sense of what the company wants its

  • personality to be. And then it manufactures this mask and the logo is essentially a

  • mask. It's an identifier but it's also something that stands in for who you

  • are.

  • A great logo is memorable, it's appropriate to the brand, and it's

  • simple so it can work everywhere and look the same

  • in every situation.

  • So the first thing is simplicity and

  • in today's media realities it means

  • if it could be as tiny as sixteen by sixteen pixels to work as a save icon and

  • for big signs and the sides of buildings, that's tremendous.

  • The second thing is that it would be appropriate, in character, in the feeling.

  • If you look at the Smithsonian sun and you say is that appropriate for an

  • institution that has all these different galleries and museums?

  • And then you start thinking okay does it look too corporate? No it doesn't. Does it look too

  • commercial? No it doesn't. That is kind of what

  • we ask ourselves when we look at a mark and say is this right first for them?

  • And then the last thing, it should be memorable.

  • And often it's something awkward, often something that throws off a balance. And a

  • good example is Mobil. It was done by Tom Geisman, my partner. He designed these

  • letters that are based on geometry and

  • the simple change of the O to red made it just burn into your mind.

  • When a design fulfills these parameters with time it will build equity and

  • will build recognition and we're looking for something that will look fresh for a long time.

  • Logo design is not like math. One plus one equals two but

  • new plus square.. you don't know what it's going to equal until you get in there and

  • start doing it.

  • I like to have one idea that I really believe in and the client really believes in and

  • I like to iterate the hell out of it.

  • For example in the Off Book Project we probably ended up making forty

  • different versions of the logo before we ended up with the final set. Starting out

  • I took all these little pieces of paper and I printed the words Off Book on it

  • and I just folded it into different shapes. It was interesting because you have this very

  • ordered system of type that's always in a grid. But then where you had the bend in the paper

  • it was this interesting little interruption.

  • And so I brought these printouts into my scanner and started emulating that little

  • interruption and sort of move it or wiggle it. And so the resulting image would have these

  • different lines and distortions in it. And once I had all these varieties of shapes we were able to

  • look at them and assess them and try to figure out which one seemed the most

  • interesting and pleasing. And then the process from there was just a process of choosing colors,

  • choosing different transparency levels and relationships between the different

  • elements and it was just a matter of refining it. And so this seemed like a perfect opportunity

  • to reference this larger metaphor that Off Book is creating about non-traditional and fringe culture and art.

  • The victory of getting the idea and then the victory of having something physical that represents

  • the idea, those are two very good moments.

  • Logo design should be timeless.

  • The classic thing is Coca-Cola. We know that script and that script really came

  • out of the 1890s but it's such a part of our culture that it probably will

  • always will be contemporary.

  • Back in 1975 I took Gutenberg bible lettering and made it

  • look like a car mark, put a bevel on it, and it looked very sinister with an album

  • I had done for Blue Oyster Cult. So when I was asked to do the ACDC logo, one of the

  • versions I came up with was based on that Blue Oyster Cult lettering and it

  • kind of became the cliche for the heavy metal thing.

  • When I use the word cliche I'm really thinking of it more in terms of

  • appropriateness. It could be just the obvious that is just the right thing.

  • There's nothing wrong with that. Now it just is part of our culture.

  • If a logo has been working and is recognizable and the company has spent millions of

  • dollars to promote it, there's probably very little reason to redesign that logo.

  • It is a fashion business. There are styles that change and typography that

  • changes and images that change but what you want is you want your audience to see

  • this and it will remind you of that entity.

  • That's when a logo works. That's when it becomes timeless.

  • We need the logo so that people will be

  • cued into who we are and what we do. The world has evolved, the technology has

  • evolved but in fact our approach has been constant. It should be simple, it

  • should be well drawn and should be interesting. A logo can't express everything

  • but it should definitely express the thing that's the most important,

  • the thing that needs to be expressed.

A logo is an extension of who you are or what you do.

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The Art of Logo Design | Off Book | PBS

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    sybil posted on 2013/06/01
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