Your logo. Is it a SUM of its parts?

Simple

Unique

Metaphor

Logos aren’t illustrations. They are abstractions. They tell A story, not THE story. They should work as well the size of your small pinky fingernail (in black and white) as they do on the side of an 18-wheeler in color…three colors max, please.

There are three main criteria good logos satisfy. I’ll use the Apple Computer logo as an example.

A good logo is simple. It is not an illustration with a bunch of detail. Most logos use positive and negative space very well. Think Target, Nike, and the Coca-Cola script. No outlines, no shading, no gradients to fall apart at small sizes. The Apple logo used to be banded with a rainbow of colors. The refreshed design works great big and small. It’s simple and an immediate read.

A good logo is unique. An apple with a bite taken out of it is kind of an odd mark for a computing company, no? So it’s memorable and stands out from the crowd. How many lawyers use the scales in their logos? A: Too many of them! How many roofers use rooflines? *sigh* These marks don’t differentiate; they don’t say anything special. They don’t tell us what the brand does well. 

Which brings us to metaphor, which in laymen’s terms means using one thing to stand for another. Telling a story. The Apple logo is all about that bite. Remember the Garden of Eden? That bite out of the apple=knowledge!! Perfect for a computing company…and the twist is a delight.

So check your logo for SUM. Does it compute?

Really? Why wouldn’t I?

Image

Really? Why wouldn't I?

The question, posted as an AIGA LinkedIn discussion: “Would you still be a designer if we never progressed to digital design?”

Such an odd query. It suggests that eventually designers would have tired of the profession had it remained based in hand skills. Don’t get me wrong, I love InDesign and Photoshop and the gadgets we use now—the tools that have replaced T-squares, non-repro blue pens, rubylith and those hulking Lucy machines. Truly, it’d be difficult to be a garden variety graphic designer these days without using a computer. Computers are fast and precise, and allow us to produce more rapidly.

But I was good at making things by hand, and I enjoy working by hand. So why wouldn’t I take every opportunity to work that way?

The other thing that bugs me about the question is the focus on software. Contrary to what some folks seem to believe, a person who knows InDesign does not a designer make. Graphic designers are highly trained in color theory, layout, typography and all the elements and principals of design. It’s also about the IDEAS, folks. Being able to make something in a software package is a given these days…it’s a bare minimum.

Here’s an image I created this week for a local musician, Nathan Diller. We’re running a contest tied into his video cover of “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic. We’re asking folks to visit his facebook page, like him, and then guess how many stars are in the photo. We will name a star after the person who comes closest. So go give it a try! You can find the contest here: https://www.facebook.com/nathandiller?fref=ts

Such fun putting this concept, and this image together…literally moving all the little stars around, playing with color and shape and line, and photographing the results. It felt more like play than work. And isn’t that the best we can hope for in our chosen profession?