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Designing a logo

Using creative typography along with simple visual/conceptual correlations between images and type is the key to solving most logo design challenges.

Experiment, experiment, experiment! You're using a computer, not rubbing down press-type or hand-tracing letters from a book of type samples, so play with all the possible combinations of faces. Not happy with your fonts, want to experiment further but you can't buy every font you want? You can see what your logo will look like in over 8,000 typefaces from at least 8 different vendors: go to, go to the "Type" section, then click on the link to the "Type Viewer." You can choose a face, choose a type size, type your company name, and see it rendered in any font of your choice.

This is a screen shot sample of the font Dolmen from Image Club, rendered on the EyeWire Type Viewer. What a great resource!

This logo is too busy-there are too many elements in this small space, too many grada-tions of tone that won't hold up well in many situations, and the typeface is diffi cult to read. Simplify for clarity, strength, and usability.

Often when designing logos, we go through versions like this (too complex) and then start revising it, reducing it to the simplest interpretation of the desired theme.

The same logo is still fairly complex, but each of the elements will render easily in a variety of situations. Instead of setting all the type in the diffi cult face, we limited it to just the larger words and chose a contrasting, more legible face to work with it. We elim-inated several of the extraneous elements. We managed to keep the client happy by adding a few details, like the dots and the tag line, but kept ourselves happy by making the details clean and simple. Most importantly, we concentrated on what would create the most effective contrast.

Different files for different uses

For many logos, you will need to create several different files to be used for different purposes.

For instance, you might have a subtle drop shadow in a logo that works great when you use it in a slick, high-quality magazine. You might have a version of your logo in color for full-color brochures, and a GIF version with browser-safe colors for the web. You need a version in black-and-white, without the subtle drop shadow, for newspaper ads, flyers that will be reproduced on copy machines, and your fax cover sheet.

Don't get attached to a particular design until you make sure it will translate well into all the different media it will be used in.

This is the full-color logo with subtle drop shadows that can be used in high-quality color printing, preferably on glossy stock.

This is the same logo in black-and-white, still with the subtle drop shadows because this version is for high-quality printing.

This version is the low-res GIF file to be used on the web, using web-safe colors. It doesn't look good in print, but looks great on the screen.

This black-and-white version is designed to hold up well in a newspaper, copy machine, or even a fax machine because there are no soft shadows that tend to get lumpy under poor printing conditions, and the contrast is stronger.

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