Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Face Value

the front of the human head from the forehead to the chin and ear to ear;
expression, look, aspect.

relative darkness or lightness of a color;
the quality (positive or negative) that renders something desirable or valuable.

the apparent worth as opposed to the real worth.


For Sculpture class we had to practice with building a Skull from clay last week. Today we were to sculpture a face from clay representative of one of our fellow-students.

My 'model' is Laura. I started out with putting a big chunk of clay on a wooden pole to keep the head from 'sinking' through the pole when it would gain weight. Then, I had to put so much clay on since Laura had this hair-style all the way down her neck.

This is one of the intermediate stages of my 'face'.

Laura in clay.

Side view

And - apart from the odd mouth - this is what came out of it at the end of class.

Charming....(Laura in the back left)


NEXT, Value

I have been asked to design a logo for the Association of Advertising Law (Vereniging voor Reclamerecht - VvRr) by one of my dear friends, Willem Leppink.

So, I had to dive into the theory of designing a good logo.

Bear with me...

- courtesy of Joe Gillespie

If you study some of the best-known logos around, you will notice that they have some aspects in common - well, maybe not. After all, the most important thing about any logo is that it is totally different from all others.

Okay, we have a paradox here! What all good logos have in common is that they go out of their way to be different!

There are two lessons to be learned here.

Firstly, overtly ‘trendy’ logos date quickly and can become embarrassments. If you can put a date to a logo, there is probably something wrong with it - unless, of course, ‘being of today’ is an essential part of the brief. Almost any well-known logo that you can think of is just as relevant today as it was years ago - timeless, in fact!

Secondly, there’s consistency.

In logo design, clichés are counterproductive. Instead of making your logo look unique, they are confusing it with every other one that uses the same visual idea.

But, take a cliché and give it a twist, use it out of context or in a different way, and you will have given your logo something that people will remember.

A logo should ideally be as different from every other one as you can possibly make it. It should also communicate something about the company or product other than just its name. You have an opportunity to add some additional values subliminally through your choice of typeface and color.

Rather than resize a large master to every conceivable size, try to make do with two or three fixed sizes and optimize those by hand. Get rid of any unnecessary anti-aliasing on vertical and horizontal strokes. This will make the logo look crisper and reduce file size slightly.

For very small type sizes, don’t use anti-aliasing at all, use a font optimized for screen display like MINI7 or Sevenet.

Why use a logo?

Whether it belongs to a company or product, a logo personifies and identifies that firm or brand. Remember, face value...

Just in the way it is written, a logo can express how reliable a company is, how forward thinking it is, its pedigree, whether it is small and friendly or big and anonymous. Looking small and anonymous doesn't work! Big and friendly would be great!

The Process

The process of creating a good logo takes a fair amount of skill and awareness of visual communication. Remember that what communicates quality and solidity to you might garner a different reaction from other people who have a closer, or more distant, relationship with the company. It is essential that you don't keep your head in the sand when designing logos, get other people's opinions and reactions - communication is a two-way thing. Obviously, the client has to be comfortable with it, but so too has the potential clientèle.

Many of the logos that were designed have been subjected to consumer research. It's amazing what can be thrown up in focus groups; the process becomes quite an eye-opener about popular tastes. Let's just say that it is better to use such research to confirm the success of a design or to narrow down optional concepts than to allow it to force a direction or stifle creativity.

See the package in the old United Parcel Services logo...?

Has the design of the new logo of UPS been 'inspired' by Apple Computers?

Most of my designs start out on a piece of paper. It is important to arrive at a concept without being lead down a particular path by the tools. A computer can become a barrier to creativity and will force you to think in a way that is 'in the groove' of the software you are using. You should have an idea in mind before sitting down at the screen and then use the computer to implement that idea, not generate it.

When it come to drawing up a logo, it is better to use a vector graphics program.

The Logo Style

The first thing you have to consider is the typeface. If you don't have the skills to create your own typeface from scratch, then you can start with an existing one. The choice of typeface is very important because the basic letterform establishes the overall character of the logo.

Can you tell that Fedex is a transporting company...

try to see the white arrow within 'ex' and you can!

Sans serif faces suggest modernity whereas serif faces say something about establishment. For the Association of Advertising Law I would choose serif faces, more formal.

Script faces can either be formal or very informal and then there are all kinds of weird and wacky typestyles - if that is what you want to communicate about the company.

Visual identity of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London,1989
Design: Alan Fletcher

Nice how Alan has combined the '&' with the 'A'.
(See more of his work at http://www.designmuseum.org)

Having chosen a suitable typeface, look at it in different ways. Caps, lower case, upper and lower. Look for interesting letter pairs or combinations that can be exploited to make the logo more distinctive and memorable.

I have come up with four distinct logo designs for VvRr:

Example I - Freedom represented by the birdy-V's to advertise and be backed-up by law

Example II - Safety (Castle on left hand side) from the Association and guarded by Law (R on right hand side to hip Advertising people (R in the middle)

Example III - Simple, with stress on the Advertising initial (white R) to stand out. The background is in the shape of a price-tag, to underline Sales.

Example IV - Circular route to the Association and a funny twist to the 'r' as 'recht' (= law) means upright in Dutch, and this 'r' contradicts with it being italic.

The Association of Advertising Law has opted for Example III, whereas I will adjust the Font to a more classical style and perhaps revers the tones (shadings, something we have dealt with before!) of the initials.

== What's the value of this logo to you? ==

Read on what David Turner, a Designer, wrote in his book on Design:

A few months ago I asked David Baker, a business consultant, to take a look at our business. He gave us a lot of useful advice, and on one point he was adamant, “You must have your own design process and preferably you should trademark it.” The reason, he said, was that clients generally couldn’t tell good design from bad, but they could understand process.

A trademarked process smelled of B.S. to us — something our competitors did — so we ignored his advice. We were missing the point. People want to be told a story.

Stories are interesting, engaging… convincing. We already had our own design process, it was just a story we weren’t telling very well. As our storytelling improved, so did our bottom line.

David was right.

Introduction to the forthcoming book, Logo Lab, by Christopher Simmons:
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: How Design Books (June 17, 2005)
ISBN: 1581805497

(See more about David's book on Design at http://www.minesf.com/LogoLab.html)


Doerak said...

And, did one of the students take you as an example or they all had to 'move' Laura in sculpture? Success with Leppinks logo!

WvanHeemstra said...

I was modeled by Laura, the result of which I hope to see (and photograph) next week. Thank you!