When creating logos and type treatments, it can be tempting to substitute a topic-appropriate image for one of the letters in a word. Done well, your message is clear as well as clever. But the allure of cleverness is so seductive, it can cause a logo designer to spurn the ordinary charms of clarity. Compare the two logos shown here.
The first logo is for a travel show. The A and the V are all up in each other’s business, and that’s weird, but subbing a suitcase for the O? That’s clever and clear.
The second logo is for, um, Wishmockers? That’s not very nice. Wishmuckers? What would that even mean? Oh, it must be Wishmakers. Hmmm. There are little stars because Wishmakers grants wishes, like a fairy godmother. Oh, okay. We get it now. Sort of. Not really.
Here’s a third example: while leafing through a Washington, DC magazine, we saw an ad for the National Zoo. The ad invites us to purchase tickets to the Guppy Gala. It’s sweet and playful and features a smiling guppy with big “love me” eyes swimming in a sea of words.
We do love you, little guppy, but could you swim a little to the right? You’re covering up one of the words. Based on all the other words, it must be a five or six letter verb for something you do at the zoo. Invite? Invade? Invoke? Invest? We wasted time puzzling when we should have been purchasing tickets to the gala.
If you’re subbing pictures for letters in your logo and type treatments design:
- DO show your design to a few people who have no idea what you’re working on. They should be able to read the word at a glance.
- DON’T turn design into a game of Guess the Missing Letter. The readers should applaud your cleverness only after they have grasped your meaning.
- DON’T let your design obscure a word unless it’s clear what the word is.
- DO match the tone of your event or organization with the tone of your design. All three of the examples here got that right!
Need help with your logo? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.