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Logo tutorial

Droplets

Two or more droplets caught in the act of merging, usually symbolic of convergence or union: The Cingular logo is a wonderful example. The effect can also be used to express a technical or scientific association. Sometimes these shapes are flat, but others have highlights or shadows that give the impression of dimension.

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Refinement

Over the past few years, there has been a return to simplicity in major corporate logos, alá Chermayeff & Geismar, which has never really strayed from this post. There are many more marks based in geometries, mixed with the simple twist of visual phrase. Possible reasons abound: Is this an homage to the 1970s and the days of classic logo? A greater reliance on the computer’s natural geometric tendencies? Or is it possible that there are fewer and fewer designers out there with the hand skills necessary to craft more illustrative marks?

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Pop

In the ongoing “Blast from the Past” tour, in which we trace a complete circle about every 30 years, companies that cater to the youth market as well as more boutique organizations have embraced the pop culture language of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Period letterforms, in particular, have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, possibly the result of ready availability from companies such as House Industries and from less common sources such as rave flyers.

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Natural Spirals

Imagine a few drops of dark paint dropped into a gallon of white paint, and you stirred them just slightly. Or picture the circle of light created by a child as he draws circle after circle against the evening sky. These are the less-contrived vortex or spiral shapes found in nature, not in a computer program. There is a mix of chaos and hard geometry in these marks that suggests order and freedom at the same time.

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Animorphic

Animals continue to be used to help companies quickly develop equity in their identities by reflecting the particular positive attributes of an animal back onto the company. Although this is a tactic used more by small- to mid-sized companies, there are a few Fortune 500 companies that rely on it, too, such as Pacific Life’s whale or John Deere’s deer, recently rehoofed by Landor. Although illustration styles vary widely, all of these logos rely on implied symbology.

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Canted

How can you take an unassuming geometric solution and make it remarkable? Cant it or wrap it onto a sphere, a task easily accomplished with a click of the mouse?not only by you, but by many other designers as well. Thanks to FreeHand and Illustrator, even very two-dimensional logo solutions can live in a faux 3-D world.

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Alpha-face

In an effort to make a company’s identity more friendly and approachable, many a wordmark has been turned into a face or a little person. Letterforms and their many shapes are turned into eyes, noses, ears and mouths and applied to a mark, alá Mr. Potato Head. Although these have been with us to some degree for generations, designers continue to find new and fresh iterations of the theme.

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Shadows

Be they hard or gentle, shadows continue to give logos a sense of place. Sometimes shadows are used beneath a mark to give it a greater iconic presence: A logo that defies gravity must have supernatural powers of some sort. Other logos have used the shadow because, really, they had no baseline and the shadow tethers them to reality. Illustrator Guy Billout’s work has provided another, more skewed influence: His delightful way of twisting the natural phenomenon of the shadow into performing contrary feats has inspired a number of designers to misshape shadows or set them off on strange trajectories.

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Transparency

Let’s face it: The old rule that dictated that any good logo had to (A) be reproducible in only one color, and (B) that color had to be solid, not screened, is gone. Sure, there are still challenges to be faced in playing fast and loose with these rules when a job must actually go on press, but the internet is much more forgiving. There are many logos today, like the MSN butterfly, that have transparent qualities that reveal themselves through multiple layers. These can be very compelling, especially since they are still novel enough to stand out from the already crowded world of flat one-, two- and three-color logos..

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Green

This is a literal and metaphorical trend. The roots for this can be traced back further, but Landor’s greening of BP was a seminal effort. Although Raymond Loewy was using green and yellow in the historic BP logo, Landor gave it an environmental sense of place with the use of the flower/sun. Cargill, ADM, and Monsanto ? all companies that might be likely to take an environmental hit?are all going green. It’s a trend that is a breath of fresh air in an industry awash with red, white and blue. Public utilities have also picked up on this trend. But if it is overplayed, corporate green will soon become a tired joke to the public.

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Punctuation

At one time, those punctuation marks at the top of the keyboard were reserved for expressing profanity. Today, they are all smileys. There is an entire shorthand language out there, created by youthful internet users, that is increasingly understood by the public at large.

The dotcoms almost played out this trend all by themselves: Every logo had an “@” in it. But as long as there are punctuation variations to explore, these marks will probably continue to be pounded out, even for logos that aren’t for copywriters.

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Labels

These are usually innocent little marks that are often simple silhouettes of innocuous objects. Inside the object, a name will be reversed out in a very legible font. These marks are often associated with hipper entities: The picture says what they do and the word says who they are. There’s not much room for affectations ? just a quick, painless dose of honesty.

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Photo Icons

These can be extremely well-done or extremely over-done. A simple photo from a CD stuffed with royalty free images is isolated on a white background, and the name of the company is run beneath it. The approach is decidedly more elegant when the visual is supported with a twist of phrase, or when the phrase is supplied with a somehow unexpected visual.

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