Monday, February 28, 2011

American Cinema Editors Logo



D E S I G N E R

C L I E N T

B A C K G R O U N D
C&G Partners' website says: "American Cinema Editors (ACE), an honorary society of motion picture editors founded in 1950, sought an identity that would expose their craft to a larger audience. The resulting solution uses the shape of the letter “E” to mirror the sprocket holes in 35mm film. By adding other letters to ACE, new words are formed—FACE, GRACE, RACE, TRACE, EMBRACE—that provide larger themes for exploring the world of film. The name becomes a building block within a flexible system of visual communication."

H I G H L I G H T S
It grabs your attention right away. The use of repetition obviously reflects a scrolling film strip, but it makes it extremely memorable and recognizable as well. This repetition also creates a sort of visual pattern, that when scaled down, it is still presents a familiar image. Really, C&G Partners described the mark really well in the "Background" section above. The multiple square shapes as part of the film strip holes mimic the larger overall square shape of the mark for a nice, cohesive appearance. Grids are strongly at play here to line up the white squares with the ends of the "E" letterforms and creates a well balanced pattern. The "black spaces" that flow in and out of the white squares are again repeated within the spacing of the notches in the "E"s and the space between the top and bottom of each letter (you could call it a great execution of leading) for consistent visual rhythm. Letting the white squares run off the edges lends itself subtly to that feeling of an editor's cut. Though it is strong structurally, it still feels playful and approachable, not static in any way.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Campaign Logo for BirdLife Malta



D E S I G N E R

C L I E N T
A campaign image commissioned by BirdLife Malta

B A C K G R O U N D
Bulldog says: "...it was commissioned by Birdlife Malta for use on t-shirts that would be worn during one of their ‘Bird Camps’. This involves large groups of people that walk through the countryside in the hope that their presence will deter hunters from illegally killing migrating birds resting in Malta. With the media following the story, they wanted an arresting image that would become associated with this campaign.

The concept of the logo is simple – ‘we should be cherishing these birds not killing them’. We thought ‘what better way is there of showing love for something than a kiss?’"

H I G H L I G H T S
It is very visually evocative---helping it be memorable. The texture in the lips is very well crafted to feel like natural lip prints. The texture is kept in tact surrounding the form of the bird in the whitespace for nice integration. It's ok that the texture is thin in spots because when scaled down the overall shape of the lips is still pretty clear (what helps is that "lip" prints are a familiar visual that people recognize quickly in a variety of styles). The contours of the wings follow the curves of the natural shape of lips very well; so the two main elements are very much a part of each other. Having more texture in the upper lip compared to the less textured lower lip provides a nice bit of contrast (too much texture could have felt forced and detract from the definition needed to support the bird image). The image presents a raw feel that makes it human and real.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

River North Dance Chicago Logo





D E S I G N E R

C L I E N T

B A C K G R O U N D
VSA's website says: "...create a new identity that would embody their dynamic, unique flavor of jazz-based contemporary dance. The result is a brand expression that is differentiating for the company within local, national and international arts communities and is representative of the sleek, confident, and athletic performances for which RNDC has become recognized."

H I G H L I G H T S
Great integration of each letterform through the center flowing line...quite seamless. Even with the challenge of how to keep that fluid line intact with the R to the N, they used that foot of the R to be the angle portion of the N...a simple but smart solution. Though there is a gap in that central line created by the foot of the R, the designer constructed it so that the viewer's eye completes the space without breaking the rhythm of the line. Excellent balance and proportions from left to right and top to bottom. Feels fluid and free but structured and sturdy. The line weight of the letterforms is pleasant...not too heavy (which is often a tendency...to make things too bold), but not overly thin to where it feels frail. This weight choice also allows it to scale well. Each letterform depends on the other for a unified appearance, but the unique white space left in between each form provides a lot of visual interest.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Vanderbilt University Logo Design Review



D E S I G N E R

C L I E N T

B A C K G R O U N D
Grear's website says: Integrating the symbolic imagery of the oak leaf and acorn into the "V" letterform, the design pays tribute to Vanderbilt’s history and looks forward to its future. The University’s campus is also a renowned arboretum.

H I G H L I G H T S
Outstanding use of positive and negative space to create a memorable mark. Nice, bold, sophisticated choice of letterform mixes nicely with the more organic form of the leaf creating interest. Scales down well. Skillful craftsmanship allows for very clear recognition that it's both a "V" and a backdrop for the leaf. The top of the leaf flows seamlessly from the inner serifs and are well balanced on both sides of the letterform. Putting the leaf on an angle also adds visual interest and follows the left side of the letterform angle well. The two different elements look like they belong together and are not forced...difficult to do, and they did it.

Update and Changes

Friends, pardon my absent posts these past couple days. Things have been busy. Actually, in the busyness I found I need to try to maintain some of my own personal balance going foward (amidst being a full-time designer, client work, husband, dad of two little ones, ministry, and now active blogger...it's a lot of work). I'm so grateful for the exposure and recognition this blog has gotten over this past month since it's beginning, and I'm grateful for all of you who read and follow because your support feeds me (I hope you continue to do so), but I need to structure this blog a little differently.

The primary point of Hi CONTRAST is to highlight the importance of well designed logo marks from the ground up (black and white). And this is what I want to continue to focus on, but a little more simply so I can keep up the pace without going to bed with bloodshot eyes each night. Moving forward, this site will mainly become a showcase of great black and white logo mark work. I will research excellent marks and display them with accompanying thoughts about why it is successful and a good achievement in design. (Unfortunately, I will no longer be drawing comparison between color to black and white versions.) The other great thing though, is that I want you to send in your logo marks that meet the criteria for all of our audience to see and share in the main posts (see "Submit Your Logo" tab in navigation bar for submission guidelines).

Thank you for all the support, encouragement, and feedback that you have sent through comments and emails. It inspires me, and my aim is to inspire others to appreciate the core qualities and principles of logo mark design. This is a place you can enjoy seeing famous designs, new designs, and your designs! I know when I was a student, having visuals to study was great, but what was even better was having critical thinking along with it to help me understand what qualities made the design so good (whatever it was). So this is simply my intention moving forward, and I hope makes life a little easier.

So keep checking in over the next day or so to start to see the new, simplified, showcase of great logo marks along with some brief analysis. Learn and be inspired. (Feel free to leave comments with any thoughts if you like.)

Thanks everyone.

Adam Ladd    

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Infinity Radio Logo Design Review



T H O U G H T S
We've all seen an infinite amount of infinity logo designs. Here's one for Infinity Radio (seems to be an affiliate of CBS Radio) whose website lists multiple stations to listen to. I appreciate their approach to try to create depth visually without having to use gradients, but rather employing the use of progression in thin to thick to thin again lines. While it is definitely more noticeable and effective in the full color version, you can see the black and white still has all the elements, but fails to create that sense of depth or layering that the colors helped to imply. Like I said, the progression of lines for movement are there, but they are not very well crafted. Certain spots have awkwardly large gaps in between each line, leaving for a sort of knotted appearance (especially in the middle where color was used to help separate the lines from each other), rather than a fluid "endlessness" that infinity is supposed to invoke. In fairness, the upper right line is actually the letter "I" in the logotype but was defined enough to be able to separate it out as a stand-alone mark. The nicest flow of lines is in the upper right section (starting from the middle). It has a clear progression and depth, the other sections are a little more sloppy and abrupt in their transition around the loop on the left and right side. Because infinity marks are done so often, and even this lined style isn't anything novel, it doesn't have great recognition from the black and white version to the color. The form is not distinct enough either to help in that recognition. Needs more refinement in it's execution.

R A T I N G S  (black and white version)
Scale: Bad, Fair, Good Rating black and white version, not rating the full color or grayscale versions.
- Recognizable: Bad
- Scalable: Bad
- Use of Pos/Neg: Fair
- Form: Fair
- Craftsmanship: Bad
- Functional: Fair

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vauxhall Logo Design Review



T H O U G H T S
Animal symbols for car logos are a dime-a-dozen, especially in the European market. Vauxhall, a UK motors company gets shuffled in with the bunch. Nothing captivating here. Perhaps it's the fact that we are so inundated with lion, eagle, and horse designs, that one more just doesn't cut it. It doesn't provoke those feelings of imagination or sophistication like it could if maybe this was a first of it's kind. (Though, I will say there are some really nice auto industry marks out there that are complex, and I realize part of their depth of detail and illustration is to indicate a status symbol.) Reduced to black and white, it loses any real refinement it might have had in the full color, beveled, shiny mark. Those bevels helped create some added definition, but when removed, the large fields of open space in the body and arching wing that wraps around the right side feel unfinished. I like the little "V" in the flag and some of the subtle carved details in the "feathers" of the bird on it's left side, but it is unbalanced when compared to the right because of that side's lack of detail. The "V" also helps to bridge that gap of recognizing the mark in black and white. So that was a nice element added by the designer as a tool for a little more distinction and visual interest. The auto industry is funny because they can render really high quality, complex outputs of these logos as metal emblems for the cars, but at the same time, that ability to produce complex forms only lends itself to neglecting the idea of simplicity and how effective it can be…flashiness starts to replace form.

R A T I N G S  (black and white version)
Scale: Bad, Fair, Good Rating black and white version, not rating the full color or grayscale versions.
- Recognizable: Fair
- Scalable: Fair
- Use of Pos/Neg: Fair
- Form: Fair
- Craftsmanship: Fair
- Functional: Fair

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Litro Logo Design Review



T H O U G H T S
Simple, yet evocative. This logo design for Litro is so expressive with such basic elements. It is heavily driven by form to suggest such an attractive appearance in black and white. Litro is a fuel service station in the European market; the logo was designed by Saffron (chaired by Wally Olins…just Google him). On Saffron's site they clearly address how this mark actually relies a lot on the use of color gradients for it's attractiveness (and yes, they are aware that it resembles a hot air balloon: they didn't ignore it, but actually created some renderings that leverage this angle in a clever way). The gradients in this case are attractive, though, the mark seems to be slightly dependent on them...leaving a little gap in recognition between black and white and full color. You can see that when scaled down in color, the thin spot at the top of the droplet starts to disappear, but when the gradients are removed it holds strong in solid black and white. It's again the simplicity and emotion that comes from the design based on circles that makes for such appealing form. Such care went into making the elements flow from the larger "pool" of fuel to the droplet. (The little touches of a designer who is a great craftsman makes a big difference in how refined or unrefined a mark can appear.) The top circle is actually slightly raised at the base providing for a smooth transition to the droplet. The center of the droplet is structurally sized and placed in the center of what would be the same size primary circle repeated, and then sectioned into thirds (kind of hard to explain, but check out this great link for the underlying grids www.eightinc.com). This mark is a very nice example of beautifully reduced form that functions very well.

R A T I N G S  (black and white version)
Scale: Bad, Fair, Good Rating black and white version, not rating the full color or grayscale versions.
- Recognizable: Fair
- Scalable: Good
- Use of Pos/Neg: N/A
- Form: Good
- Craftsmanship: Good
- Functional: Good

Friday, February 18, 2011

New World Symphony Logo Design Review




T H O U G H T S
Bravo. What a fun logo mark design. It looked like fun for the designer to create and fun for the audience that views it. But it's not just fun, it's also very refined and sophisticated in it's craftsmanship. The nice thing is that a lot of emotion is suggested in the form of this mark alone; color is not needed to aid in this. Though, color could be used if they were trying to make a more direct statement to a certain audience (perhaps a yellow/orange for a more youthful audience). But they stay very relative to the symphony at large and attractive to all potential viewers. The mark is loose and free, expressive of the fluid and dynamic movements of a conductor or sounds waves…but it is also very well balanced in this "free form," not letting the viewer's eye travel too far one way or the other, but keeping the viewer's focus in the center of the mark with all the intersecting of the lines. Upon closer inspection, you can see the acronym for the New World Symphony (NWS) is used to form the design. The subtle feeling of rising and falling crescendos in the rhythm of the music are almost mimicked in the slight tapering off at the end of each letterform. This tapering also ties each unique letter together in a uniform fashion. The interesting positive and negative space play a great part in the excellent appeal and function of this design. Encore, encore.

R A T I N G S  (1-color version)
Scale: Bad, Fair, Good This is all in the context of the 1-color version, not rating the full color version.
- Recognizable: Good
- Scalable: Good
- Use of Pos/Neg: Good
- Form: Good
- Craftsmanship: Good
- Functional: Good

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sony Pictures Logo




T H O U G H T S
A good mix here. This logo mark design for Sony Pictures is pretty well balanced in regards to subtle color accents on the full color version versus how the visual integrity holds up in 1-color. The color gradiation accents don't interfere with the pure graphic structure of the design itself. They are merely an overlay to what clearly exists underneath; so when those effects are removed not much damage is done---allowing for good recognition in 1-color. The angled lines are well spaced with a good rhythm at top and bottom to give it a strong appearance, while the gradual tapering of the line thickness as it moves outward is well crafted, employs good use of positive/negative space relationships, and suggests that feeling of movement or highlights (whatever they were going for). This graphic tapering also provides a point of interest for the viewer's eye to focus on and retain. When scaled it holds up well because of the nice consideration of how to space the lines and how thick (or not thick) to make them so that they don't close in on each other too much visually. It's not an outstanding "wow, I really like that" kind of mark, but it's a good, solid, established mark when taken to 1-color.

R A T I N G S  (1-color version)
Scale: Bad, Fair, Good This is all in the context of the 1-color version, not rating the full color version.
- Recognizable: Good
- Scalable: Good
- Use of Pos/Neg: Good
- Form: Good
- Craftsmanship: Good
- Functional: Good

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Logo Marks of Mine



Hi friends, just wanted to reveal a little more of myself by posting some of my logo mark designs. Hopefully, to convincingly demonstrate that I try to practice what I preach.

From top to bottom, clients include:
- Third Screen Marketplace (brand experiences on mobile devices)
- Prosper Avondale (non-profit providing support and hope)
- inno360 (global innovation networking software)
- Personal work