Making a logo design concept your own - Part deux

In a recent bLog-oMotives entry I wrote about identity designers making logo design concepts their own through the incorporation of graphic images as letterforms. Replacing a letter of type with a graphic element is a tool I often use to make a client's logo design unique.

One recent such example is the identity I created for a friend's startup interior design business, NoBox Design. In explaining her plans for the business, the friend told me that the name referred to the fact she didn't want clients thinking "out of the box;" she wanted them to realize that there was "no box" when it came to conceptulizing interior spaces. I immediately thought of round forms, especially the rounded shapes of a 1980's Donghia chair. Back in 1984 I produced a set of two silkscreen prints making use of a Donghia-like over-stuffed chair - one of my favorite furniture shapes. (The prints were sold in Portland galleries and made an appearance as set decoration on the soap Days of Our Lives.)

The two "O" letterforms in the word "NoBox" were prefectly placed to become the round arms of the chair illustration. With my friend's first name beginning with the letter "B," I felt a stylized graphic representation of a monogrammed throw, of blanket, made an appropriate centerpiece in the design.

This past year the NoBox Design logo was recognized with a 2006 American Corporate Identity Award and it appears in the book American Corporate Identity 2007.

The identity for Black Dog Furniture Design is one of my favorite logo projects. Brett Bigham, commonly known as my "evil devil pig friend from hell," provided me with a piece of paper covered with a collection of puppy footprint drawings and sketches of his little black dog, Adobo. He wanted me to create an identity for his startup furniture business of creating new pieces from found objects and old furniture. The font Very Merry, from Fonthead Design, was my first choice to compliment the primative quality of the dog illustration. For me, replacing the letter "o" with the tail "wag marks" was a natural consideration in making the logo unusual.

From the perspective of being recognized in the design industry, the Black Dog Furniture Design logo has been one of my most successful. The logo appears in the books The Big Book of Logos 3, Letterhead and Logo Design 7, Graphically Speaking, American Corporate Identity 2003, Global Corporate Identity, PRINT's Regional Design Annual, Logo Design for Small Business 2 and Graphis Logo 6. It also received an American Graphic Design Award from Graphic Design: usa magazine.

Over the past 16 years I've designed over 100 logos for the triangle productions! theatre company in Portland. Many have involved combining graphics and type to produce a concise and unique graphic symbol. Creating the logo for the theatrical production The Dream State was such a case. In playing with the shape of the letters on my computer screen I saw that star shapes would work to replace the "A" letterforms in the words "dream" and "state." I tried a couple different fonts in making the image light and playful; settling on Circus Dog, also from Fonthead. The crescent moon image was added as an afterthought to give the logo some balance.

The Dream State identity was also recognized with an American Graphic Design Award. It is featured in the book The Big Book of Logos 4 and the Spanish volume Logos from North to South America.

Principal Mike Verbout asked me to create a logo the James John Elementary School in a effort to boost student and community pride in the institution. He'd recently had some colorful flags installed on the school structure and hoped that I could include that imagery in the design. The school is located near the historic St. Johns Bridge, a major landmark in the Portland area. In my mind I saw one of the towers from the bridge replacing the "H" in the school's name - and banners could be attached to the spires of the bridge image. The result was a design appealing to children and adults, and an image that worked well on signage, T-shirts and other promotional items.

The James John School identity was honored with an American Graphic Design Award and a Silver in the Summit Creative Awards. The logo also appears in the books The New Big Book of Logos and Logos from North to South America..

By stepping back from logo design projects, and looking at possible graphic elements as potential letterform shapes, a designer can put their personal stamp on a creative identity concept.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

1 comment:

Woody@Flywheeldesign said...

Thanks for the examples! They illustrate your points perfectly, and as a designer who sometimes creates logotypes, I appreciate the conceptual leaps that you're describing. If you'd like to check it out, my work is on display at