Archive for August, 2012
Given the very nature of my job, I go through dozens of logo designs every day, the things I see too much of are derivative and overused logos. Upon further investigation and discussions with other designers, I’ve learned that generally people confuse the two terms. Many designers and project holders think the two terms are one in the same. They are not.
Let’s shed some light on both terms to distinguish one from the other. This post will give you a good understanding of each term as well as where and when they should be used.
Overused Logos – Common and Clichéd
Overused logos are exactly that, overused. These are clichéd design concepts that have been used so often that they portray a dull feel when used. There are symbols for every industry that have been overused by designers through ages. They’ve been used so much that they cannot help a business stand out in today’s market.
When people look at overused symbols in logos they instantly make a connection with something they’ve already seen. For example, the symbols of a scale in a law firm logo or rooftops in real estate logos are just a few examples of overused symbols.
Derivative Logos – Copied and Unoriginal
Derivative logos are based on stock images, clipart or existing logos created by someone else. They are essentially ‘derived’ from an existing design. The designer who creates a derivative logo is basically copying someone else’s design and making a few changes to call it their own.
This is a very common and unproductive practice among new designers. They tend to look at different types of designs to get inspiration and ideas for their projects. Sometimes they see a design they like and take it a step further by making slight modification to it to make it appear unique.
While this approach works and some designers are able to get away with it, it is obvious that it is not a genuine or creative approach. A derivative logo design can lead to trademark infringement and copyright issues for the designer and their client. This will eventually lead to a designer’s bad rep in the long run and blacklist him in the market. With a bad track record, it will be hard for him/her to find design jobs in the future.
I hope that now, the difference between overused logos and derivative logos is much clearer. Overused designs are common but they don’t allow a client to stand out in their market. Derivative designs are simply copied work, which should be avoided. If there is one thing that can be said about both of them, it would be that neither approach should be practiced by graphic designers.
All designs should be original. A truly unique design is an elegant mix of elegance, innovation, uniqueness and ingenuity. All of us at LogoDesignGuru.com would like to stress this and encourage designers to use their imagination. Remember, being unique is worth its weight in gold in this business.
August 30th, 2012
One of the primary goals of Logo Design Guru has been to ensure that all of our design contests go smoothly from beginning to end. To ensure a seamless process, our team has developed tools and features to benefit out project holders and designers! One such feature is the Star Rating System, implemented on all contests.
Star Rating System
Star ratings are the little stars you see in the bottom right corner of every design draft at a contest. These ratings are no different than ratings given by movie critics. Based on these ratings, audiences determine whether or not a movie is worth seeing. In the same context, star ratings are given by project holders at contests. These let designers know what the project holder thinks of their draft.
What do the stars mean?
As mentioned earlier, star ratings represent what the project holders think about design drafts. Here is a quick reference table that explains what the number of stars given means:
I wanted to highlight the importance of star ratings. They are not just a way for clients to express satisfaction, but they help motivate designers. They tell the designer whether or not they’re designing in the right direction. It helps them to realize what direction they need to take so that future drafts are better. This is why client feedback is so important.
Even since we implemented this tool across the board, we’ve seen the quality of designs improved by leaps and bound. The client satisfaction rate has also improved. I encourage all contest holders to provide feedback on each draft submitted to get the most designs at their contest.
August 27th, 2012
Ever come across a logo that you have seen a million times, but one day you notice a small detail that blows you away? If you haven’t, the following 26 logos will be quite interesting. These logos are well known, so you may have seen them, but today we’ll focus on the hidden messages within each of them.
This logo has been around for over a decade and I am very familiar with it as well as the company’s services. However, I never saw the hidden arrow within the logo. Take a close look between the E and X. See it? This arrow (in the negative space) represents precision, speed and accuracy.
Do you know where Toblerone chocolate is created? The company is located in Bern, Switzerland which is also known as the City of Bears. The mountain in the Toblerone logo embodies the City of Bears by incorporating a bear in it. Have you found the bear?
Ever notice the peacock image in the NBC logo? The most recent logo makes it hard to spot, in older versions the peacock was more visible. The peacock faces towards the right, symbolizing the company’s motto to look forward.
4. Baskin Robbins
Their slogan, 31 Flavors of Fun, made them a commercial success, as did their logo. The number 31 is significant because Baskin Robins carries 31 flavors of ice cream. If you look close, you can see the number 31 placed between the letters.
This one is easier to spot. The letter G in the logo is also a smiley face. It was the company’s way of showing a gesture of…should we say, goodwill?
Did you know Nike’s logo has a hidden message? Not many do! The famous swoosh used by the company represents one of the wings of ‘Nike,’ the Greek goddess of victory. Interesting, huh?
7. Hope for African Children Initiative
This logo looks like a map of Africa but after a closer look you will see two people (a child and an older person) facing each other.
8. Big Ten Conference
Currently there are 12 schools in the Big 10, but at one time there were 11. So, in the logo the company decided to include the number “11” in a subtle way. Since the growth of the Big Ten Conference, the company was not keen on change their cherished logo so the number 11 remains.
Pakuy is a packaging company with a logo that is simple and clever. The logo looks like the letter P, standing for the company name, while it also looks like an unfolding box. It’s a great way to represent the company and its services.
10. Hershey’s Kisses
I love this one because the symbolism is hard to find and many people often too busy devouring the chocolate, instead of noticing it. Before you dive into the bag, take a look between the letters K and I. You’ll be surprised to find a hidden Hershy’s kiss there!
11. Yoga Australia
In this logo, you will notice that the image is of a woman in a yoga pose which also makes the shape of Australia. It’s hidden between her arm and leg.
Who isn’t familiar with this logo! It is the image of an apple that has been bitten. Simple and straight forward. But the symbolism people relate to this logo is perhaps not as simple. There are quite a few theories regarding the symbolism of the logo.
The current Apple logo is a modern and evolved version. The very first Apple logo had the image of Sir Issac Newton sitting under an apple tree while the second logo (rainbow Apple) was derived from Newton’s prism work. Some people like to believe that the logo indirectly symbolizes the forbidden fruit of Adam and Eve, depicting lust and knowledge. Well not literally perhaps, but Apple products are (sinfully) addictive hence the symbolism feels right, to me at least A few people even believe that the bite in the logo refers to the computing term 8 bytes or binary knowledge. Although designer, Rob Janoff disagrees with these theories.
So, what do you think? Which of these theories would you root for?
13. Sony Vaio
At first, I had no idea about the hidden meaning in this logo. The curvy V and A actually indicate an analog wave or a signal. The I and O represent the binary digits 1 and 0. Very unique, creative fitting for this type of company!
14. Milwaukee Brewers
Are you a baseball fan? If so, then you may recognize this logo. The Milwaukee Brewers logo is shaped like a baseball glove holding a baseball. But look closely, do you see the B and M?
15. Atlanta Falcons
Let’s talk sports again. The logo of the Atlanta Falcons is easily recognizable. The beak and claw of the falcon are reaching out; can you see what it creates? The letter F.
Most people have used Amazon.com. The logo is very self-explanatory. The text spells out the company name, but the arrow under the A and Z is quite interesting. Its Amazon’s way of saying they carry everything from “A to Z.”
17. Sun Microsystems
Before they got taken over by Oracle, this was their logo. The design is a very unique way of displaying the letters that spell out their name, S-U-N. No matter which way you are looking at the logo, you can read the word SUN. This was stunning work done by Vaughan Pratt.
18. Northwest Airlines
This is the older Northwest Airlines logo, but it deserves a mention. The letter N is visible can you see the W? And that’s not all. Look even closer, can you see the compass? Which direction is it pointing in?
A masterpiece of creativity, this logo depicts the letters L and G easily. The L and G seem to make a face, almost with a winking eye. But, if you take the design a bit further by tilting little to the right and align the L with the edges you’ll see a PacMan!
20. Washington State University
This is one of my favorite logos and my favorite school. WSU really did a great job with their logo, representing the university mascot and the 3 letters that define the university. Can you find the letters?
The Italian electric company used went about their logo in a very unique way. An electric socket is used to represent the company and its services. The socket represents providing electricity, as well as forming the letters E and D.
22. Tour de France
Tour de France is all about bicycling. Can you spot the cyclist in the logo?
23. Pittsburg Zoo
Zoo logos tend to have a common theme, featured animals. The Pittsburg Zoo’s isn’t much different. If you look carefully at the white space under the tree, you can see a lion and gorilla. This is one of my favorite logos; its creativity never ceases to amaze me!
I’m a huge fan of the movie Ice-Age so when I saw this logo from the California based ski resort, it instantly made a connection. They created the letter M with a piece of animal imagery (Mammoth tusks-do you see them?), it’s really creative!
25. London Orchestra
There’s another beautifully concealed image here! The most amazing orchestra conductors have performed with the London Orchestra. Can you see the conductor in the logo? The L and O make up the arms of the conductor while the links between the two letters create the head.
I saved the most intricate for the last! The Unilever logo is composed of 26 different icons, each representing one of their products and services. An example of one would be a palm tree which represents nature and products that have coconuts, dates, palm oil etc. (Unilever logo explained)
Some logos are truly amazing and creative because of the innovation involved in their creation. These creative logos provide a company with a great branding option and they can tickle our imagination when we make the connection between the company and its brand.
August 22nd, 2012
It’s no secret that designers absolutely love the iPad. It enables them to take their creativity anywhere, allowing them more flexibility with how they go about a design project and when. However this is not the only element that makes the iPad such a great tool to have for web designers. There are numerous cool iPad apps that designers use almost on a daily basis. Today we are sharing 10 iPad apps that are great for web designers.
1. Adobe Photoshop Touch
This one is a no brainer. Every web designer uses Adobe Photoshop whether they use a MAC or a PC. Photoshop Touch is the iPad version of Photoshop. With it designers can create and edit images, build layered designs and more. They can also share their images on Facebook using Photoshop Touch.
2. Adobe Color Lava
Choosing a great color combination is without a doubt the most challenging task for a web designer. It is mostly done by trial and error. Adobe Color Lava makes the task much easier by giving designers the capability to blend different colors ideas and schemes directly into the design draft.
3. Sketchbook Pro
This app is unique because it provides a large number of presets and symbols that can be directly embedded into the design, instead of creating them from scratch. While designing new patterns is encouraged, using pre-designed templates and symbols saves time and money. But only as long as designers use them as a building block to create something unique.
4. Zen Brush
This app enables users to draw or write using a comprehensive ink brush. This tool is particularly handy for calligraphy-style artwork. It comes with 50 different types of background style templates and a brush size adjustment slider.
Dropbox is a lifesaver. Giving users the ability to access their files from anywhere in the world makes this iPad app a must-have for the active designer. You can also share your files online with others on different social media platforms.
6. Art Rage
If you use Art Rage after using Sketch Book Pro, you will find many notable differences between the two. ArtRage is overall better software when it comes to advance digital painting and real drawing simulation. While Sketchbook Pro can do almost the same, ArtRage puts the focus on artistic painting, in order to create real-life simulation and graphics.
7. Adobe Ideas
This app is for those designers who are vector drawing fans. True, it doesn’t have that many prominent features but it allows users to draw smoothly as if they were using a pencil. Adobe Ideas allows users to save their work as PDF format and to share their image as galleries with others.
8. Web Designer Magazine
Finally, an app that keeps you up-to-date on the latest web design trends! With Web Designer Magazine (available only in the UK iTunes Store), designers get the latest developing news in the web design arena.
9. Touch Draw
Touch Draw is similar to Adobe Ideas, but with more features and functions. It is a great tool in a designer’s arsenal. From simple logos to complex floor plans, this iPad app can do it for you. Designers have the option to save their work in different formats and to share their work through Dropbox and other mediums.
10. HTML 5 Reference Guide
Why carry a 500+ page manual when you can have everything you need on your iPad? The HTML 5 Reference Guide is a free app that designers can use as reference anytime they want. It includes everything from standard attributes, tags and event attributes, basically everything a web designer might need during a project.
These are just 10 of some of the most efficient and useful iPad apps for web designers. There are plenty more, but the ones mentioned above are extremely popular among the designer circles and have received the best feedback. If you are a designer by profession and own an iPad, make it designer-friendly by downloading and installing these apps. You’ll be glad you did.
August 14th, 2012
The “Keep it simple, stupid!” (KISS) approach can be applied to virtually any field or industry. This design principle was articulated by the American engineer, Kelly Johnson. Graphic design is a specific industry that has adapted this approach, especially with logo design and the hundreds of new logos coming to life every day.
With so much competition, designers strive to come up with unique and innovative designs that would become recognizable. While there is certainly no substitute for hard work, sometimes the KISS approach works really well here.
The main idea is to stick to the basics by keeping the design simple, which could lead to a great logo. Many designers think this leads to a design that is too generic; we’re here to explain that’s not always the case.
Generic Logos Explained
A generic logo is a design that is too common and you tend to see variations of the same design being used repeatedly. This often leads to trademark issues – whether it is trying to file for a trademark or trademark infringement issues if the design similarities are too obvious, while the basic idea remains the same. Companies that invest lots of money in their brand image don’t want to run into such problems.
Generic logos are mostly based on unoriginal and overused images. A common example would be the roof image used for a real estate company or using a tooth for a dentist’s office. With this, there is a chance of these becoming derivative designs. That being said, it’s better to steer clear of overused, generic logos. Which is why it is important that business owner understands the significance of a unique logo design.
It’s always smart, on the designer’s behalf, to ask the client what they’re looking for. Be sure to explain that while there’s no harm in using a roof image for their real estate company, an original logo will stand out and not get lost in a sea of overused images (in this case, other businesses with roof designs). Ultimately, the choice lies with the business owner.
Simple logos are not generic logos; their overall design layout is unique. What’s simplistic are the design attributes. Maybe the logo uses a standard black and white color scheme or there is no background layout. Take the Wal-Mart logo for instance, the asterisk (or sun, depending how you view it) has become the recognizable symbol of that brand. Another example would be the M in McDonald’s, the golden arches of the M can stand alone and be recognized internationally.
After looking at famous brands, you will notice that almost all have a more simplistic logo. These logos are memorable and unique without over doing it. Using the example of a dental logo again, you don’t necessarily need to use a generic tooth design. What you could use is a toothbrush or sparkle.
Designers must research to make sure the logos they create are not identical to any other. While business owners opting for a simple logo should stress that they want unique symbols used. Just because you want your logo to stand out doesn’t, mean it has to be complex.
Clients should have a faith in their designers, especially when it comes to understanding the difference between generic and simple logo designs. It is often the simplistic logos that make the biggest impact. As a designer, you just need a little creativity and originality.
Logo Images courtesy: LogoPond.com
August 6th, 2012
If you thought that becoming a graphic designer was hard work, wait until you have to compete daily with thousands of designers for the same projects. The competition between designers today is fierce, thus they utilize different mediums to promote themselves and make themselves more marketable. One medium is social media.
Over the last decade, social media has emerged as the go-to tool to promote any business, product or brand. Designers, like other craftsmen, use it to establish their online presence in order to appear reputable and professional. Let’s talk about a few social media mediums that are a must for any new or experienced designer.
LinkedIn – Where all the Pros hang out
This should be the first platform graphic designers turn to. Over the years, LinkedIn has become an online place where both employers and job seekers alike can interact. It has interactive features that will make your profile stand out. But that’s not all. LinkedIn also allows people to interact with other members and gives them an opportunity to contribute.
- Join LinkedIn Groups. This is where members can get involved and participate in discussions, sharing their knowledge and experience about a particular subject or query.
- There are dozens of LinkedIn Applications that can help designers gain prominence. Apps like the Creative Portfolio Display allow designers to showcase their work online.
- LinkedIn Answers is another useful tool. Go to the search bar at LinkedIn and select “Answers” from the drop down menu. This will bring you to an entire database of questions currently being asked by other members. Provide competent answers to questions being asked to help gain reputation.
Update your LinkedIn profile and customize it. Remember that LinkedIn profiles get indexed and ranked in search engines. People searching for your expertise, professional experience and services can easily come across your profile if it is properly customized. You can also ask for recommendations from clients, colleagues and bosses to post to your profile and strengthening it. This helps provide great business and career opportunities.
Twitter – Tweet like a Professional
With over 500 million subscribed users, Twitter has established itself as a popular platform to share information and interact with the world. While there are millions of tweets going out every day, many people don’t utilize Twitter’s search function to the fullest. It is one of the best places for designers to look for work, analyze existing work, and explore future opportunities.
- Personalize your Twitter profile. You can add a simple description about yourself, adding your expertise or get a little creative with words. You can also add a link to your blog, website or online portfolio to be viewed.
- Follow & be followed. Use Twitter’s search feature and look for those in your industry. Follow people you like the work or follower base of. Follow back the interesting people who follow you and invite relevant people to follow you. Remember to balance the ratio of followers and following. Don’t go overboard at once and start following 200 people while you only have <50 followers.
- Understand the dynamics of Twitter. Learn how to build a fan following before you start using this social tool instead of just spamming other people. Engage in conversations and Re-tweet often.
- Post relevant information & comment on other people’s tweets. This will help to start a discussion or ask a question. Twitter is a great way to interact with the international community in real time. You not only get to learn a lot, teach others and even get great employment opportunities.
Aside from employment opportunities, designers can use the search box to promote their work by putting themselves in the user’s place. By sharing design portfolios using a hash tag for related terms like #web design, #info graphics, #logo design. You can promote work on Twitter and establish yourself as the go-to source for graphic design.
Google+ – Socialize and Interact
Even though Google+ is a long way from its arch-rival Facebook in terms of active subscribers, it holds a distinct advantage of being the product of the leading search engine. Recent updates to the Google Search Algorithm now make the use of social signals from Google+, making it more valuable when it comes to people finding you. Apart from SEO, Google+ allows users to create social circles of varying nature. Graphic designers can use this feature to keep in touch with leading experts in the field and even previous clients.
- Add a cover photo on your profile page that features your work. It will attract followers and business contacts; it’s an easy way to show off your design skills.
- Share images and videos via Google+. Create a portfolio of your work within your profile.
- Create a write-up for the about section. Promote yourself by providing links to your website, blog or online portfolio. Market yourself but be sure to not boast untruthfully or sell yourself short. Add your expertise, milestones and reach out to other people. Participate in discussions and comment honestly on other people’s posts.
Google+ is great to help you rank in the searches. This is another platform other than LinkedIn that you can use to promote yourself, find recognition and career opportunities.
Pinterest – Pin what interests you!
One of the most exciting trends to unfold during the last few years is the amazing success of Pinterest, a highly innovative and unique way of sharing content. The last year has been extremely successful for the company and in a recent survey, it overtook Facebook as the most preferred and likable social platform in 2012.
- Create your own set of pin boards and categorize them accordingly. This is a great place to find inspiration and see other creative artwork.
- Pin stuff you like for inspiration so you can come back to view it later. You can even create a board to act as your own portfolio.
- Re-pin items from other people’s boards and follow people or specific boards of interest.
- Link your Pinterest account to your Facebook or Twitter page. This is great if you have a strong profile and would like to show-off your work on other platforms.
Pinterest is different from other platforms in the sense that it puts images and visuals in the spotlight, instead of written content. This is a win-win scenario for graphic designers and a perfect opportunity to show off their portfolio. If you are not on Pinterest now, you should be!
Remember a graphic designer’s success in today’s world depends not only on skill, but on how reachable he/she is. Social media platforms are a great way for designers to promote themselves. With more and more people now looking to the internet to reach others, it is absolutely necessary for graphic designers to ensure they a have rock solid web presence.
August 1st, 2012