Logos I Love
just over 6 minutes to read
You may have noticed that I love logos. And you may have heard me mention, a few times, that I think your logo is so stinking important that you should never, ever think of skimping. In a nutshell, your logo is the first thing that people are going to see and associate with your business. So if you care deeply about your business (of course you do!), and you care about people discovering how amazing and special your products and services are, you want that first impression of your brand to be really, really good. This is how you begin to create positive customer relationships.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about big logo design mistakes and how the perfect logo can boost your brand, so today I wanted to show you three sparkling, captivating logos that absolutely set the bar for me. These logos are attractive & intriguing, and definitely draw me in. They encapsulate the brand, speaking to both the nature of the business and its style or personality.
Being from Rhode Island, I’ve seen this logo often on billboards, signs, and such. This ‘favorite’ is unique in that it took me a little while to understand it. The first few times I noticed it, particularly when driving fast on the highway, I remember seeing a weird conglomeration of sticks and tiny letters, and wondering what it was. I hadn’t been to the RISD Museum since their logo rebranding. When I finally visited the museum, I had quite the “aha!” moment!
Like the FedEx logo, which creates an arrow with the negative space between the E and the X (denoting movement, direction, and speed, as qualities of their shipping service), the RISD Museum logo is using that same concept of negative space on a higher, more abstract level. The negative space between those “sticks” forms an ‘M’, bounded by the two big sides of the logo and the slanted lines. The ‘M’ is in relief, seen at an angle.
But wait, there’s more. I think the process of interpreting this logo is the same one you undergo when viewing a piece of artwork. You may not understand it immediately, but when you take a moment to study and engage, the interesting features and the true/deeper meaning come out. Thus, the logo is a perfect representation of the entity that it stands for, and of how you engage with art when you visit the museum. With this two-step reveal, RISD’s logo takes a bold step. It’s not trying to reach everyone, just people who take the time to appreciate art. What could have brought confusion to another logo helped to infuse mystery & discovery into this one, and speaks squarely to their target audience.
From another design perspective, this logo works because it looks great in black and white – no color needed. And the ‘M’ can stand on its own. In super-small iterations, like a website favicon, they take out the smaller ‘RISD’ letters and the ‘M’ supports the brand alone.
The Whole Catch
In contrast to the abstract RISD logo, this logo for The Whole Catch tells you the (ahem) “whole” story, nice and contained. Created as a design exercise, and not for an actual business, the logo tells a great story. Though the lines are simple, they look almost hand drawn. Their roughness suggests a homegrown business with the owners working in the shop, hands-on every day. The structure of the logo itself speaks to wholeness, reinforcing the brand name and the product, as it forms a net “catching” the fish: they cannot be separated.
The font is fully customized to echo the simple lines and amply fill the space created in the center. Those things, combined with the way the fish are drawn, suggest fresh, curated product, in small batches, with personal attention and service at the highest quality. You’ll pay a premium for their product, but you’ll know it was worth it with every bite.
The blue color also has an easy association to the ocean. And by baking in that just-stamped look, the logomark has even more variation, and minor imperfections, that suggest authenticity and uniqueness.
Barrington Public Library
This logo (one of mine!) is an example of a more straightforward logo. Designed for a community-driven town library, I wanted to create a mark that conveyed a sense of stability, straightforwardness, solidness – and more. While libraries are foundational, this one in particular also brings art & life to its community: music and movie events, kitchen classes, and language courses. The icon suggests an open book, with a subtle “motion” in the pages, but also speaks to the great variety of events and resources they offer. And it also suggests the idea that, when you read a book, the whole world opens up to you. On this stable, solid base, the bright, fresh colors invite people to see the library in a new way. It engages kids and teens as well, who form a large part of their ‘customer’ base.
The right side of the book forms a ‘B’, for Barrington. The motion of the lines could suggest water and the proximity of the town to the bay. The gray, wavy lines under the logomark could represent the physical book cover, or hands holding a book or support for all of the additional activities the library brings to the community. Visually they ground the logo, but they can be interpreted many different ways. Yet these are all secondary things you might notice, giving the logo some depth, similar to the two-step reveal of the RISD logo above. And it reinforces the concept that there’s more for you at the library, every time you return.
The typeface used in this logo is actually a font called Paperback and it takes its structure & design from the typography in old paperback books. It suggests the feel of reading and again makes the viewer connect with books in another subtle way. Yet the book symbol, with all these layers, can be used totally on its own.
The Perfect Logo
A quick background note to conclude: the “perfect” logo isn’t always elaborate or complicated. Sometimes a very simple concept speaks best to your business brand. And it doesn’t have to speak to everyone. It doesn’t even have to mean the same thing to everyone. But no matter how simple or intricate, how clear or interpretive, it’s important to spend a lot of time and energy nailing it. I present many options to my clients, and then we whittle and refine until the shoe fits just right. As you’ll see on my work page, every client is personal and unique – there’s no formula. And this is what really makes designing a logo so much fun!
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