04/22/2010 02:40 PM Filed in: Blog
After reading my friend Justin Samples' Blog about the blatant misuse of the Papyrus font, I can't help to blog about something that's been on my mind for a while–logos. Most people that know me know that I do graphic design from time to time. It's a hobby that I picked up in college. I'm sure it spawned from a drawing obsession in Middle and High School because I used to draw all of the time. All of that led me to really enjoy graphic design and ultimately making a little money at it. I'm not the greatest graphic designer in the world but I know when I've done something right (and wrong).
Logos are one of those things that I love. I've always found it fascinating how a company or brand will summarize their entire existence with one image. Think about the Nike "swoosh", the ubiquitous Coca Cola script, or Apple's "apple". All of them are examples of great logos. They're easily recognized and can't be mistaken for anything else. They're also very classy and memorable. That's what goes into making a great logo. A great logo is something that uniquely describes a brand just by glancing at it. Nike's logo suggests motion. The font is sheared about 20 degrees and it looks like it's ready to leap off of the page. The "swoosh" helps give it a boost. The Coca Cola logo is classy and one of the oldest logos we still recognize every day. It's timeless and stronger today than it was almost 100 years ago. Although the Apple logo has changed a bit over the years, it's changed in the same way that the company has evolved. Their first logo was the same apple shape, but was multicolored–suggesting that their computers were a revolution like Newton's apple (which was their first logo) and a mixture of art and technology. Their current logo holds true to that philosophy while maintaining the clean minimalist lines that Apple is known for in their current design aesthetic. All of their products seem to match their logos, stores, and commercials. They have one of the best brand continuities I've ever seen.
As fate would have it, when I went to my favorite logo site to retrieve these logos, all three were featured on the website homepage.
I got into graphic design by default. When I was in college, my band (Won by One) hired an art major at GSU to design a logo for us. She failed miserably. She sent us back about seven designs that looked like she did them in Microsoft Word. They were anything but creative to say the least. We paid her $200 and had no logo. Heartbroken, I went home empty handed. Shortly after that, we changed the name of the band to Wallace Green and a friend of mine liked the name so much, he drew a logo for us on the computer. He introduced me to a piece of software called Adobe Illustrator and I was smitten. He wasn't an art student but he worked for a printing company. In just ten minutes, he had a cooler logo than the art student even dreamed of. We used the logo for about 8 years.
I knew with my drawing background I could do this and my quest had begun.
I designed my first logo in college. It was the Pladd Dot Logo. Like Apple, it's not exactly the same logo that you see now. It first looked like a Coke button (the old porcelain and metal signs you see on barns the world over) but had the same plaid pattern. I always wanted the Pladd Dot Logo to be a sphere but when I first designed it I didn't know how to make things look spherical in Photoshop. Using inner bevels for text was way too popular in 1996 and since I was a bad graphic designer at the time, I didn't know any better than to use it. It worked out alright for the Pladd Dot Logo and it gave me my first brand identity. This remained the Pladd Dot Music Logo until March 5th, 2003. I've used the same font since 1996.
Only a few people know what font I use. Me, Chank Diesel, and Justin Samples.
I'm keeping it that way for two reasons:
1. The font doesn't work on anything else. It's a horrible font that happens to work with the Pladd Dot Logo really well. It works in a similar way that Peanut Butter and Jelly work together. Seriously. Can you think of one other type of nut that works with Jelly? I can't. But peanuts do.
2. I don't want to see the font all over the place. Trust me, the world would be an awful place if prepubescent web designers decided to smear this font all over the landscape of the internet. They're already kicking our butts in Call of Duty. Isn't that giving them enough free reign? I'm not about to give them the keys to the Buick yet...
I've designed several logos since then and some have been pretty darn good.
One of the newest was actually a collaboration with my friend (and drummer with CMB) Matt Fallin and myself. He said that he was working on a logo for the Chris Mitchell Band and wanted to show it to me. He designed the "M" and "B" of the logo really well (which is pretty much what you see today) but the "C" was off a bit. He was trying to incorporate the "F" holes in my guitar and shape them in a "C". They're called "F" holes for a reason (because they're shaped like the letter "F") and they're very hard to convert to a "C". He had started with a great idea and I added the final touch by changing the "C" to a guitar and fleshing it out in the computer. All of the letters in the "CMB" are hand drawn in the computer and the font below the logo is called "pookie". The logo works for several reasons. It's visually appealing, it's not a carbon copy font type, and each letter represents the first letter of our name and the instruments we play. Chris "C" plays the guitar. Matt "M" plays the drums. Brian "B" plays the 5 string bass.
We've been using this logo since August of 2008 and we've had packed shows ever since...
Now I'm not a genius or anywhere near it. I do understand branding. The next blog will be a sequel to this one featuring some less than stellar logos. I'm going to talk about good design and bad design.
It should be fun....