Monday, July 12, 2010

What Makes a Great Logo

I've been doing a lot of logo design lately. I found two different sites where I can ply my trade:; and I like doing logos. Encapsulating the essence of a business or personality in a reduced, single color design is more challenging than a lot of people might think. Many business people know they need a logo, but few really understand what it really does. By design and necessity, logos must be simple and direct. When they are done well, they look easy. But entrepreneurs should not confuse simplicity with ease of design. Chances are, if it looks simple, it was hard to do. Case in point: the Nike Swoosh.

Logo designers receive education and continually seek out new information and trends. Logo buyers, on the other hand, often know very little about the process. Starting a business and having a logo designed is something few people ever do, and of those who do, rarely do they do it more than a few times in their life. It's a little like buying a house. You need someone who knows the process, someone who does this every day for a living. Don't ask your neighbor to market your real estate or design your logo. Hire a pro.

Why you need a professional logo designer:

Your logo is your visual ambassador to the world. It must be memorable and unique. Logos exist because we remember faces and landmarks. Your logo is the unique face of your business – your interesting landmark – so people can find you again in the crowd.

Consider the following scenario: You are a plumber. You give your business card to someone at a party. A year later they need a plumber but they can’t find your card, so they start looking through the yellow pages. But because they don’t remember your name, and your logo looked like that of every other plumber, they never find you again. You didn’t stand out. Good logos are designed individually, not chosen from a library of clip art.

It must be reproducible in a variety of sizes because it might be used on a pencil, a key fob, a business card, a billboard, a menu, a mailing label, a website, a television advertisement, a product package, or an invoice – anything used for conducting business. Think of all the packaging and promotional material businesses generate with their logo on it. With so much riding on a logo, it’s a wonder how often it gets overlooked.

Your logo design should be timeless. It will be with you as long as your business exists. Changing it for a completely different one later is not generally an option – at best, they’re updated. We don’t get married thinking we can trade later on. You’re going to invest years of hard work in developing a positive public image. Your logo will be the face of that image. You owe it to yourself to begin with a logo design worth investing in.

The journey from desire to creation requires research, reflection, inspiration, sketching, analysis, and testing before final deployment. The process can take a few days, or a few weeks. A professional, formally educated designer draws on the lessons of art history, heraldry, architecture, marketing, color theory, culture and psychology.

One area of logo design commonly ignored is the typeface. Typeface itself sends a subtle message to the viewer. You don’t want to send one message with your logo and another with the typeface. Logos that are entirely text, such as Disney, are called type logos. Businesses that choose a type logo should have an original typeface designed especially for their needs, as opposed to using a typeface that already exists. The necessity of originality demands it. If you choose a typeface that anyone can purchase, you run the risk of undermining the unique character of your logo. Many logos are symbols combined with text. Combining a symbol with text allows you to take advantage of the many different type faces currently available yet still have a unique, recognizable symbol to present to the public. Target Stores is a good example.

A logo should look as good in black on white as it does in color. Experienced designers do their initial mockups in black-on-white and save color choices for later. This ensures that when copies of documents are made, the design translates.

A photograph or painting is not a logo. Detailed, colorful images are frequently used in the design of product packaging such as beer bottle labels, and such artwork is often used as signage for store fronts. But a logo is much, much more reduced. The more detail, the more difficult it will be for customers to recognize it clearly at small sizes or from their car at 70 miles per hour.

Logo design is a specialized craft, like painting or sculpture. Artists tend to specialize, spending years perfecting methodologies and techniques in narrowly focused areas like photography, painting, printmaking, textiles, performance art, graphic art, and design. Logo designers are artists who specialize in capturing your message and reducing it down to simple visual cues that can be universally recognized. And true artists do their own work. They don't steal from a library of clip art.

If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I'm going to say it: if a logo designer consistently cranks out work at a rate of one or more designs per day for less than the cost of a happy meal, odds are they're using a pre-purchased library of clip art. They're not doing original work. Stay away from them.

For more information about logo design visit these sites:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A 4x5 Enlarger for $35!!!!

I went to Bring Recycling today and bought this beauty for $35! It has an 80mm Schneider lens and the condenser is clear. All I've had to do is clean it up and lubricate the moving parts. I don't have a darkroom built yet so until I actually use to make a print I won't know for certain how well it works, but it certainly appears to be in good shape. Heck, for $35 I can afford to make repairs as needed. These things can cost as much as $1500 new and $400-$900 used.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Oregon Coast

We took a trip out to the coast on Christmas Eve and the weather was beautiful.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NvrDri Spray Bottle

Here's my presentation for a new spray bottle design:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

before and after

Here is my studio as it is currently (minus much of the clutter)

Here it is after a hypothetical rebuild: