Logo designs for logo designers aren’t up to snuff

The logo designs of professional logo creators must be the absolute best in the world, right?

Well, maybe. Then again…

Several years ago a Swiss designer, David Pache, posted the logos of 100 logo designers, brand identity consultants and graphic studios on his blog. He declined to assess or critique the logos, but he did make some observations. You can see all the logos and his remarks at HelveticBrands – 100 Logos

But I’m not as impartial as David. I’ve made some assessments and specific critiques about several of the logos presented.

Critiquing 100 logos

First, several of the logos I highlight here would be more favorably received if they were executed in color. But I’m old-fashioned enough to believe a logo should work in black and white as well as color, in sizes from one-quarter-inch to three stories high and in all sorts of environments, including in a gathering of thirty or more logos in a sponsor’s array.

Second, since these logos come from all over the world, I may not have the perspective to see the value of several of them.

All-type logos represent 44-percent

Anyway, the first thing I did was attempt to classify the logos so that we might see what approaches these pros took in identifying their own organizations through their logos.

I first remarked that there seemed to be a lot of type-only logos in this group, particularly among the very largest corporate design companies. Here are the logos of five of the largest:

Major Corporate Identity companies
Major Corporate Identity companies

In all, there were 26 logos that were strictly type without any devises added to make them unique; not even a special character or punctuation mark. Add to that the 18 all-type logos that changed a letter’s look, inserted a special character, formatted unusually or changed font within the name for a total of 44 logos without symbols. A couple of examples of typographic devises appear below.

logos using typographic devices
Logos using typographic devices

About a third of the logos used upper and lower case type, a third went all-caps and a third opted for lower case only.

 

There were abuses in the typography category when the fonts selected were not very legible, as seen below.

Two illegible logos
Two illegible logos – Brand Union and TYO

In summary, 44-percent of the pros relied on typography and typographic devices only to create their logos.

 

Symbols and Monograms mostly weak

Seven of the logos relied only upon a symbol and did not incorporate their firm’s names. Of those, three did use the initials of their names in a subtle way as in the Glitschka Studio ll design and BrandBerry logos below. In all 14 logos incorporated the company’s initials/monogram as part of the design, with or without the name spelled out as well.

logos with hidden monograms
Logos with hidden monograms

Of all 52 logos utilizing symbols, 19 were not representative, just graphic devices or typography. Of representative devises that people could relate to, six used a human eye and two used the light bulb. Examples below.

The eyes have it
The eyes have it

Best of the Breed

Of all the logos incorporating name and symbol, Aron Creative stands out as one of the best in this entire collection. Its symbol is relevant and well integrated. Its type is legible, unique, modern. It’s the most well-rounded.

Best of breed - aron
Best of breed – aron

For type-only logos, I’ll give the nod to design success and Newlyn because both use unique fonts that are both legible and professional.

best all-type logos
Best all-type logos

For the symbol-only logo, BrandBerry gets the berries. It’s a visual representation of the name, Its style is friendly and its imagery conjures growth and green. There’s also the suggestion eyes here as well.

 

What were they thinking

Here the designers, in my opinion, gave no thought to their potential clients, but only looked to be out-of-the-box – to sacrifice legibility for uniqueness. The logo that makes you work the hardest is Ejifa. Or perhaps it’s Jarek Kowalczyk’s cyberpuzzle, er logo. Call it a tossup.

The Artra  logo, probably because it was designed in color, has the symbol too close to the name causing confusion. Plus the type font itself has to be interpreted. Vanderbyl gets the award for least readable. It’s also a poorly proportioned logo – vertical is never as adaptable as horizontal. And the MovingBrands logo (the half circles) has no reference to any aspect of who or what they are. Looks unfinished to me.

Five losing logos
Five losing logos

Logos by the pros

In summary, the 100 logos in this compilation show that the most creative and out-of-the-box logos come from the smallest and most design-oriented firms,  while the most conservative logos were created by the largest identity specialists. Over all, the use of symbols was pretty poor – only one (BrandBerry) emerged with an image related to the company and imparted a feeling of warmth and friendliness. The remainder had little to evoke emotion or action.

So again, take a look at all 100 logos at Helvetic Brands and draw your own conclusions. I was not impressed.

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