what’s in a logo?

lovely logos

Logo design is important. When i look at a logo i’m usually in awe of it or else i just dismiss it as the kind of work only a two year old would be proud of. I’ve learned that the simpler a logo is, the more thought that has gone in to it. The level of thought required is insane. I’d say that i’ve only *really* thought about two logo designs, neither of which are online yet and are both projects under construction, but you’ll see them one day…

Both took me not hours, but days to complete. Yet at first glance, both look very simple . Too simple to consume that amount of time. I mean come on… i’m supposed to have a degree yet it takes me days to produce something that takes literally 2 minutes to create?! Yet there’s nothing i can do about it… it takes me that length of time to think, prototype, think, experiment, then think again… so logo design is a very frustrating but very rewarding process for me.

Suddenly, you’ll get a lightbulb moment and everything slots in to place. That’s why you’ve spent all day long working, for that moment. I can’t show you examples of the logos i’m talking about, you’ll see them in time… but i will show you the level of thought and creativity that goes in to them.

I’m working on a new hotelsrevealed.com logo at the minute and here’s one idea i had….

logo 1

What do you see? It’s the text ‘hotels revealed’ with a stupid black square attached to the ‘h’, right? WRONG. Look again. Study that black square and the ‘h’. You might see something like this…

logo 2

And that’s the crazy level of thought that goes in to these logos. I don’t just sit down and think… “hmmm, an open padlock symbolizes ‘openness’ or plays with the world ‘revealed’, so let’s put a black square beside the ‘h’ and see how it works out”.

Our brains aren’t built to think like that… it requires outside the box thinking, some of which may never be recognized or appreciated. I’m sure a lot of you would never have seen that padlock had i not pointed it out. To be honest, i probably wouldn’t either… typically, i wouldn’t be thinking at that creative level… i’d just see a stupid black square which looks out of place :mrgreen:

But that’s an insight in to my new logo design approach and the type of thought that goes in. Of course a logo is no good if everyone says ‘what the hell is that supposed to be?’ so a lot of the time i find myself making things more obvious simply to make ‘hidden’ graphics less hidden at first glance. If i see a logo online, i don’t ask questions about it or analyze it in great detail. Most people are probably the same therefore creating logos with deep meaning or double meaning and having loads of hidden messages probably isn’t a good idea as they’ll never be recognized or will just piss people off if it requires too much thought to decipher.

So in this example the ‘square’ padlock might look more like a padlock if i were to add in a keyhole like so;

logo 3

And if i really want to get the message across, i could use colour to distinguish the padlock from the lettering. It’s also worth pointing out that i only use black and white now for logos. Colour comes later, once i’m finished. I find it’s just better that way as you don’t get distracted by fancy gradients or nice colour harmonies. Plus it guarantees the logo will look good in print format too.

logo 4

Anyway, i don’t design logos for a living so i’m really just winging it based on my gut instinct and personal design taste. It’s a tricky thing to do though… you can spend hours on end literally wasting time with crappy ideas but usually it’s those crappy ideas which lead to the best ones. It’s a great way to truely test yourself creatively and sharpen your ‘outside the box’ thinking. I’ve been thinking like this now for quite some time (when it comes to logos) and it does get easier with practice but staying in that zone is tough.

So there you have it… an insight in to how i come up with ideas for logos. And usually one idea isn’t good enough, it’s pretty rare i’ll go with the first idea that comes in to my head. A lot of thought also went in to my ‘fake’ logo design above (at the very start of this post) but i’ll not go in to detail explaining that one…

2 thoughts on “what’s in a logo?”

  1. you can spend hours on end literally wasting time

    The point is that is not wasted time. Anyone who knows anything about design knows that it is a long, iterative process. Those wasted designs are part of the journey, so it is not wasted time.


    I mean come on… i’m supposed to have a degree yet it takes me days to produce something that takes literally 2 minutes to create?!

    But…you don't have a degree in design, do you? Graphic Design is a complex process. There's lots to study and learn, you never stop learning.

  2. oh yeah i agree totally, i appreciate good design more than most 🙂 i'm just trying to break it down so that people don't just think it's a half hour job using the first idea that comes in to your head!

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