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Let’s Design Logos!

Here’s how to turn lively little dingbats into excellent logos and stationery.

Dingbat fonts provide a cornucopia of raw material for creating modern logos. Many dingbats are artistically excellent; all spare you much of the labor of drawing. But their biggest asset is to help you visualize by giving you something tangible to study. All can be converted to paths in a drawing program, disassembled, rearranged, skewed, rotated, scaled, colored, and otherwise altered to yield an amazing number of interesting, useful images.

1 What Should Your Logo Look Like?

Express the Intangible...

Dingbats create abstract logos. Unlike pictorial logos (graphic representations of real objects), or symbolic logos (a globe, say, that signifies humankind), an abstract logo works by suggesting meaning. It is vague by design.

This is especially valuable when:

  • You’re a service business whose product is intangible.
  • You wish to convey intangible qualities such as strength, partnership, vision and so on.
  • Your company has diverse divisions or will in the future.

Suggest the Physical...

Many fine logos are based on physical objects. For example, to a printer a printing press is a thing of beauty, but to customers, it’s a noisy, inky contraption. A printer, therefore, would want a logo that suggest the qualities of his or her press without actually revealing it.

2 Use a Background to Add Beauty, Tension, Strength...

Set an Artistic Stage

A background is a simple shape you draw yourself that serves as a stage for your dingbat. Many dingbats look good—even great—on their own, but others are more effective with a background. Use a background to:

  • Make your logo bolder
  • Give your logo a more pleasing shape
  • Smooth an uneven edge
  • Intensify the color
  • Create dynamic tension

Target and Define

The dingbats that most often benefit from a background are those with organic shapes, many points, or uneven outer contours. The background corrals them into a compact, visual target that’s ideal for use on business cards, stationery, and commercial signage of all kinds.

Reverse and Energize

Dingbats almost always look best light on a dark background. You’ll find that reversing the dingbat makes the background dominant, which can make a dramatic difference.

Scale and Reposition

Many dingbats benefit from the dynamic tension created by off-centering or rotating them. Different positions imply stability, movement, and so on. Be bold! This step needs your artistic eye.

3 Create! Transformations Expand Your Options...

Take It Apart

The dingbat straight from the box is only a starting point. Disassemble and rearrange its parts, and you’ll often find many useful images hidden inside. Some ideas:

  • Separate a section
  • Realign halves
  • Move each section
  • Rotate one or more sections
  • Delete part of it

Transform One or More Parts

Dingbats are generally symmetrical. Rescale and reflect one or more of the parts. Here, three good images emerge from one dingbat.

Use only Some of the Parts

Throw parts away: Individual pieces are sometimes more useful than the whole, especially when juxtaposed with a background. Look for surprises. Try these ideas.

Build It from Separate Parts

One dingbat may not be enough. Duplicate parts or whole dingbats, then cascade or rotate them. Also, create fresh, new images of your own from two or more dingbats.

4 Add the Company Name

Make the Name Small...

Your name is what turns a logo into a business trademark. For stationery and papers that will be read at arm’s length, a small, understated name has great authority.

...or Make It Big!

For a delivery truck or exterior signage, the name must be very large. At outdoor sizes, the name dominates the logo, and typestyle becomes the key design element.

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Last Update: November 17, 2020