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kottke.org posts about logos

Weird 80s font convergence

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 13, 2016

Just learned/realized that the old logos for Reebok, Apple, and Trapper Keeper all use the same typeface, Motter Tektura.

Motter Tektura

Motter Tektura

Motter Tektura

(via @pieratt)

We Work Remotely

1969 Bell System logo redesign pitch video by Saul Bass

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 04, 2015

From 1969, this is the video that Saul Bass made to pitch AT&T on a new corporate identity. What a time capsule. Here’s the logo, which remained in use until 1983, when Bass designed the “Death Star” logo to replace it.

Att Logo 1969

Google has a new logo

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 01, 2015

Google Logo 2015

….and it still looks like a middlebrow kids clothing brand logo.

So why are we doing this now? Once upon a time, Google was one destination that you reached from one device: a desktop PC. These days, people interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices-sometimes all in a single day. You expect Google to help you whenever and wherever you need it, whether it’s on your mobile phone, TV, watch, the dashboard in your car, and yes, even a desktop!

Today we’re introducing a new logo and identity family that reflects this reality and shows you when the Google magic is working for you, even on the tiniest screens. As you’ll see, we’ve taken the Google logo and branding, which were originally built for a single desktop browser page, and updated them for a world of seamless computing across an endless number of devices and different kinds of inputs (such as tap, type and talk).

Update: The design team shares how they came up with the new logo.

Update: When I said that Google’s new logo “still looks like a middlebrow kids clothing brand logo”, this is pretty much what I meant.

Gymboree Google

Gymboree’s identity (1993-2000) vs. Google’s new identity (Sep 01, 2015)

(via @buzz)

Big brands swap logo colors

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 27, 2015

Paula Rúpolo took some famous brands’ iconic logos (McDonald’s, Starbucks, eBay) and swapped the colors with logos of their competitors (Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Amazon). Here’s FedEx and UPS:

Logo Color Swap

NASA’s logo: the worm vs. the meatball

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 20, 2015

NASA’s original logo looked something like this:

Nasa Meatball Logo

It was referred to, colloquially, as the meatball. In the 1970s, the meatball was switched out for the worm, a more Modernist take:

NASA Worm Logo

This logo was done by Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn, and Danne wrote an essay about the experience.

And here is one of the most interesting exchanges I’ve ever witnessed in a design presentation:

Fletcher: “I’m simply not comfortable with those letters, something is missing.”
Low: “Well yes, the cross stroke is gone from the letter A.”
Fletcher: “Yes, and that bothers me.”
Low: “Why?”
Fletcher: (long pause) “I just don’t feel we are getting our money’s worth!”

Others, not just the designers were stunned by this last comment. Then the discussion moved back to the strong red/rust color we were proposing. We had tried many other colors of course, including the more predictable blue range, but settled on red because it suggested action and animation. It seemed in spirit with the Can Do nature of the Space Agency.

Fletcher: And this color, red, it doesn’t make much sense to me.”
Low: “What would be better?”
Fletcher: “Blue makes more sense… Space is blue.”
Low: “No Dr. Fletcher, Space is black!”

NASA’s Graphics Standards Menu utilizing the worm logo can be seen here.

Nasa Design Manual

The space agency switched back to the original logo in 1992. Michael Bierut compared the two:

The worm is a great-looking word mark and looked fantastic on the spacecraft. By any objective measure, the worm was and is absolutely appropriate, and the meatball was and is an amateurish mess.

(thx, jarrett)

The mighty morphing Hillary logo

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 11, 2015

Hillary Logo Multiple

Soon after the logo for Hillary Clinton’s campaign was revealed, I wrote “I am not a big fan of the arrowed H”. Well, the campaign’s clever use of the logo has won me over. Quartz’s Annalisa Merelli explains.

It is through all these iterations that Clinton’s logo fully displays its iconic value: It is highly recognizable despite the changes, and the much-criticized right-facing red arrow is now appears as it was likely meant to: pointing the way forward. The different backgrounds aren’t just an innovative graphic solution-they are the visual embodiment of the values Clinton is building her campaign around. It vehicles a leadership based on collectivity and inclusiveness rather than the elitist individualism Clinton is often accused of.

Handdrawn logos

posted by Jason Kottke   May 08, 2015

Seb Lester can somehow freehand draw the logos for the NY Times, Honda, Ferrari, Coca-Cola, and many more.

Watching the video, I didn’t even notice any tracing…it’s all freehand. Keep up with Lester’s drawings on his Instagram account.

Hillary Clinton logo typeface

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2015

Inspired by the logo for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential run, designer Rick Wolff created an entire uppercase alphabet for a typeface he’s calling Hillvetica.

Hillvetica

From his Twitter stream, it appears that Wolff is attempting to make an actual Hillvetica font so stay tuned. FYI, Pentagram partner Michael Bierut designed the logo. The simplicity is appealing, but overall I am not a big fan of the arrowed H.

Update: The Washington Post made a little text editor so you can write whatever you want in Hillvetica. The Clinton campaign has already put it to use:

Neon Chinatown

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 18, 2015

Chinatown Logo

Chinatown Logo

Chinatown Logo

A project called Chinatown takes familiar logos like Pepsi, Starbucks, UPS, and Lego and translates them, imprecisely, into their Chinese equivalents.

It uses basic words for translation, such as “Caramel Macchiato” for “Starbucks” in order to maintain the visual continuity. By arranging the words this way, ‘Chinatown’ pushes viewers to ask themselves what it means to see, hear, and become fully aware. ‘Chinatown’ also demonstrates our strangeness to 1.35 billion people in the world, when you can’t read Chinese.

(via @pieratt)

Responsive logos and abstraction in design

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 12, 2015

Responsive web design is a technique used by web builders where the design adapts to different screen sizes. Designer Joe Harrison has built a page with responsive logos for several well-known brands, including Coca-Cola, Nike, Disney, and Levi’s. If you resize the page, you can see the logos change. Here’s how the Disney logo looks as your browser window gets smaller (from L to R):

Responsive Disney Logo

As the browser gets smaller, the logos lose detail and become more abstract. By the time you get to the smallest screen width, you’re down to just the Disney “D” or Nike swoosh or Heineken red star, aka the bare minimum you need to render the logo recognizable, if only on a subconscious or emotional level. Which reminds me of Scott McCloud’s discussion of iconic abstraction (and The Big Triangle) in Understanding Comics, which is still one of the best books on design and storytelling I’ve ever read. Here’s a bit of the relevant passage:

Comics Abstraction

Defining the cartoon would take up as much space as defining comics, but for now, I’m going to examine cartooning as a form of amplification through simplification. When we abstract an image through cartooning, we’re not so much eliminating details as we are focusing on specific details. By stripping down an image to its essential “meaning”, an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can’t.

The reason why those particular logos work responsively is because they each have abstract representations that work on that meaningful emotional level. You see that red Levi’s tag or Nike swoosh and you feel something.1 I think companies are having to design logos in this way more frequently. Contemporary logos need to look good on freeway billboards, on letterhead, as iOS icons, and, in the case of the Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest logos, affixed to tiny tweet/like/pin buttons. (via ministry of type)

  1. I’ve talked about this elsewhere, but in designing the “identity” for kottke.org (such as it is), having an abstract logo identifying element has been an important part of the process. I wanted to have an element (currently the blue gradient) that if you saw it and recognized it, you had a reaction to it on a emotional level. Here’s what I wrote about an older kottke.org design: “The yellow-green thing at the top is a tag. Like the red tag on Levi’s jeans or even the red stripe on Prada shoes. It’s small, out of the way, but when you see it on something, you know exactly what you’re holding in your hands.” It’s my favorite design trick and likely influenced by Understanding Comics more than I realize.

Inside the brain of a designer

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 10, 2014

If you’ve ever wondered how a designer does their thing (or even if you haven’t), this look-over-the-shoulder view of Aaron Draplin designing a logo for a fictional company in about 10 minutes is great. A nice reminder that design is truly about making it up as you go along.

I love Draplin. Internet treasure, that guy. And that lefty writing claw! Go lefties!

Airbnb’s unfortunate logo characters

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 27, 2014

When the new Airbnb logo was introduced, the company caught a lot of flack from the internet because the logo resembled an odd combination of almost every sexual body part. I actually liked the logo right away and after a few months with it, the juvenile connotations have faded.

But you know what makes Airbnb’s logo really really really look like a cartoonish vagina butt? Putting arms and legs and hats on the logo and animating it.

Airbnb Butt

Airbnb is sponsoring the NYC Marathon this year, and the logo characters were created for the event. Maaaaybe they’d like to rethink this?

Who drew the Sriracha rooster?

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 03, 2014

Sriracha Logo

The rooster on the Sriracha bottle has made its way to iPhone cases, t-shirts, and water bottles. But no one (not even the founder of the company) knows the name of the street artist who created the now famous logo.

Designing Idiocracy

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 03, 2014

Brawndo

Over at Trivia Happy, Phil Edwards interviewed Ellen Lampl, who designed the logos for Mike Judge’s underrated Idiocracy.

Some logos came from the script, while some came from the designers’ brainstorming sessions. Brawndo and Carl’s Jr. were written, while Lampl made logos for companies like Nastea and Fedexx once the overall look was approved. For Lampl, it was a great release, because “coming from the past constraints of advertising, it was cathartic to have the liberty to be bawdy and irreverent. Making everything ridiculously over-emphasized with bright colors, outlines upon outlines, and exaggerated drop shadows was my personal jab at the world of branding and in-your-face typography.”

The hidden message in the old Milwaukee Brewers logo

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 07, 2014

Somehow I lived in WI for the first 17 years of my life, was a Brewers fan for many of those years, and never realized the old Brewers logo contained the letters “m” and “b” hidden in the ball and glove.

Old Brewers logo

Wow. If your mind is blowing right now too, there’s a Facebook group we can join together: Best Day of My Life: When I Realized the Brewers Logo Was a Ball and Glove AND the Letters M and B. (via kathryn yu)

ps. If you’ve somehow missed the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo, here you go. Best kind of natural high there is.

Evolution of the Warner Bros logo

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 25, 2014

Fine work as usual from Christian Annyas: a look at the design of the Warner Bros logo from 1923 to the present. The classic “WB” shield of my Bugs-and-Daffy-saturated youth will always be a favorite, but I do like the Saul Bass logo of the 70s and early 80s:

Saul Bass Warner Logo

Affleck’s Argo and Soderbergh’s Magic Mike both used the Bass logo in place of the contemporary logo, which is the kind of little detail I love.

The art of the rap logo

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 31, 2014

Naughty By Nature

The Art of the Rap Logo is a collection of rap logos from NWA to Snoop Dogg to Def Jam.

Football as Football

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2013

Football as Football is a collection of American football team logos in the style of European football club badges. Here are badges for the Detroit Lions (in the Italian style) and New England Patriots (in the Spanish style).

 
Football As Football 01

 
Football As Football 02

A short history of the Pixar logo animation

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 12, 2013

If you’ve watched a movie in the past 20 years, chances are you’ve seen the animation featuring the Pixar logo and Luxo Jr., the company’s mascot. Luxo hops in, squashes the I, and takes its place; here’s what it looks like:

According to the Pixar wiki, there have been several variations of the logo, including the one where Wall-E comes out to fix Luxo Jr’s busted lightbulb:

Others include 20th and 25th anniversary versions, a 3D version that premiered with UP, and versions from Cars 2 and Finding Nemo that incorporate story elements into the logo.

This particular logo debuted with Toy Story in 1995. For the short films Pixar produced before that, they used variations on the not-very-exciting theme of circular indent in beveled square, a shape borrowed from the look of their Image Computer:

Original Pixar Logo

Many of the logo animation variations, including the pre-Luxo Jr. versions, can be seen in this video:

Alternate brand slogans

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 22, 2013

Artist Lisa Hanawalt has been sketching big company logos with alternate slogans, including KFC, BMW, Toyota, McDonald’s, Nike, and Subway. The Subway and Toyota ones are my favorite:

Hanawalt Subway

Hanawalt Toyota

Food option. You need a fucking car unfortunately. Smell bread. Awesome.

The evolution of the Star Wars logo

posted by Jason Kottke   May 31, 2013

An extensive examination of the evolution of the Star Wars logo, which went through too many iterations to count.

..Though the poster contained no painted imagery, it did introduce a new logo to the campaign, one that had been designed originally for the cover of a Fox brochure sent to theater owners….Suzy Rice, who had just been hired as an art director, remembers the job well. She recalls that the design directive given by Lucas was that the logo should look “very fascist.”

“I’d been reading a book the night before the meeting with George Lucas,” she says, “a book about German type design and the historical origins of some of the popular typefaces used today — how they developed into what we see and use in the present.” After Lucas described the kind of visual element he was seeking, “I returned to the office and used what I reckoned to be the most ‘fascist’ typeface I could think of: Helvetica Black.”

(via df)

Car logo rip-offs

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 11, 2012

Some examples of car company logo rip-offs, mostly from China.

Car Logo Knockoffs

And really, who wouldn’t want a BYD instead of a BMW?

New logo for Microsoft

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 23, 2012

After using the same logo for the past 25 years, Microsoft introduces a new logo that echoes their Windows brand.

New Microsoft Logo

The Microsoft brand is about much more than logos or product names. We are lucky to play a role in the lives of more than a billion people every day. The ways people experience our products are our most important “brand impressions”. That’s why the new Microsoft logo takes its inspiration from our product design principles while drawing upon the heritage of our brand values, fonts and colors.

(via df)

I love this

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 20, 2012

Solid State

From Simon Walker at Flickr. (via ★glass)

The naughty 2012 Olympics logo

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 12, 2012

With the Olympics about two weeks away, consider this a final you-can’t-unsee-it reminder that the 2012 London Olympics logo looks like Lisa Simpson performing oral sex.

2012 Olympic Logo Lisa Simpson

It’s not as bad as some of the others on this list (oh, that Mon-Sat logo), but it’s still exceptionally unforgettable. Enjoy the wall-to-wall Olympic coverage for the next two weeks!

Railroad company logos

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2012

A beautiful collection of railroad company logos that show the evolution of logo design from 1845 to 2000.

Railroad logos

What a five-year-old thinks about famous logos

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 31, 2012

Designer Adam Ladd asked his five-year-old daughter for her impressions of several well-known logos. This is great:

(via stellar)

Hand-lettered department store logos

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 14, 2011

A lovely collection of hand-lettered American department store logos from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Dept Store Logo

40th anniversary of Nike’s swoosh

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 18, 2011

Steven Heller writes about the 40th anniversary of Nike’s iconic swoosh, one of the best logos ever designed.

swoosh trademark

The origin of the mark goes like this: Knight wanted to differentiate BRS’s custom product from the ones they were importing from Onituska in Japan: “…so Knight turned to a graphic design student he met at Portland State University two years earlier.” One day in 1969, the student, Carolyn Davidson, was approached by Knight and offered $2 per hour “to make charts and graphics” for his business. For the next two years Davidson managed the design work on BRS. “Then one day Phil asked me if I wanted to work on a shoe stripe,” Davidson recalled. The only advice she received was to “Make the stripe supportive of the shoe.” Davidson came up with half a dozen options. None of the options “captivated anyone” so it came down to “which was the least awful.”

(via megadeluxe)

Fake + logo = Fauxgo

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 09, 2011

Fauxgo is a site that collects fictional logos from movies and TV shows.

Dinoco