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Logos & Identity

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Monogram Logo Conveys Character

  • Typestyle, color, and a dash of flair say volumes about your company.

Historically, a monogram was a monarch’s treasure—a hallmark bearing the most revered icon of all—the royal seal. It said little, but spoke with immediate recognition.

A few centuries later, monograms still command attention. Sure, the royal seal is gone, but the monogram’s simple, quiet elegance remains—the elegance of a name, an initial, and the visible voice of character.

The easy-to-make monogram shown in this article is a great example. To make it, first you’ll draw a circle, an initial, and a name. What’s exciting are the endless ways in which typestyle, value, and small embellishments can then be combined to convey exactly what you want. Dress them in the costume of royalty, and they speak of the privileged. Bathe them in a spotlight of smoky blue, and they fill the imagination with slow, swaying jazz. Center them on a stage of texture and accent, and they whisk us somewhere else. Here’s how to do it:

1 Draw a Circle

Draw a circle with a 10-pica diameter. Set the stroke to 3 points. Crisscross two ruler guides and center the circle at the guide intersection.

Now start thinking about the image you want to send out. Is it sophisticated, casual, traditional, sporty, futuristic? And what typeface expresses it best?

2 Set Your Initial

Your initial is the focal point of the monogram, and it’s fun to experiment with typestyles. What you are looking for is expressiveness—your choice may be ornate, blocky, rough, classic, bold, whatever. Pick one you like—we’re using Snell Roundhand—and for now set it in 120-point.

3 Center and Scale

Center your letter by eye and scale it to fill up the circle. Make it big; it’s all right to touch or even overlap the circle like we’ve done here. At this point it’s hard to tell what will look best, so just get it in the ballpark, and we’ll fine-tune it later.

4 Set Your Name on a Path

Set the company name on a 11-pica diameter circular path, similar to what’s shown here. To start, we’ve used 16-point centered type, in all caps. Since it’s much smaller than the initial, the font should not be ornate or detailed; ours is Charlemagne.

5 Space the Letters

Increase the letterspacing until you are pleased with the results. To extend a too-short name, you might try adding a bullet between letters, or repeat the name, or use a more extended font.

6 Add an Outer Circle

Draw an outer circle as shown here, so the type is spaced evenly between the circles.

Before moving on, take a look at the whole thing; you’ll now have a better idea if the type is the size you want, if the spacing pleases you, and so on. Adjust if necessary.

7 Color

Monograms look great in just one or two colors. Pick a deep, rich main color—burgundy, grape, midnight blue, forest green, charcoal. The second color, if you use one, should be light: a pale screen of the first color; a neutral cream or gray; or a complement. Here, the inner circle is a tint of the outer. White type gives the illusion of three colors.

8 Embellish

Lines, texture, and pattern can help to symbolize the company’s business. Use them to conjure up mental pictures. Here, horizontal lines bring to mind old engravings, or are perhaps reminiscent of the grain in the wood barrels, and turn the monogram into a wine label. Old-world dingbats fill space artfully, easing the “jump” between words.

Artistic Guidelines

The example illustrated on the previous pages balances many variables. When you create a monogram, you must also balance proportion, typestyle, and color.

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