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Design a Name

Here’s how to create a good look out of nothing—just a name on a shape—but there’s a secret.

Who needs fancy artwork? Good design is the happy result of words, shapes, colors, and other basic elements in harmony. Simple shapes—rectangles, ovals, polygons—have real, expressive presence. A rectangle, sharp-edged and pointy-cornered, says something that a circle, round and soft, does not. So it’s easy to create a good look out of nothing—or at least what seems like nothing: Set a word, add a shape behind it, then color! Or start with the shape. Or the color. The secret is to get all three elements saying the same thing. Here’s how:

1 Rectangles

A rectangle is the most stable shape—flat, firmly on the ground, motionless. A rectangle is the shape of structure—the walls of a building or monument, for example. Dark, substantial colors are full of black and feel solid, connected and dependable. Uppercase type is stately. The overlap adds a light counterpoint appropriate for a restaurant.

2 Circles

Light, delicate pastel colors are full of white and convey fragility and vulnerability, even infancy. Pointy-cornered rectangles won’t do here; what’s needed are oval shapes that are gentle. The type, too, should whisper—lowercase, ultra light, and white, which recedes.

3 Triangles

Angles are the most exciting forms, full of energy, motion, and instability, which is why you see them on skateboards and not on corporate stationery. Amp up the volume with an angular typeface. Riotous colors—bright secondaries, mainly—are seen in nature in flowers, tropical birds, and fish.

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