Forget graphics - type is all you need to create an eye-catching logo, as these examples show.
It's tough enough to create an effective and memorable logo design, let alone restrict oneself to using typography alone. But often getting down to the bare essentials is where the most remarkable solutions and brilliant ideas emerge. Sometimes it’s a beautifully thought out ligature that nails it, or an imaginative use of letters. At other times it's clever use of colour, scaling or re-arranging of letters or even subtly removing something from the logotype that gives it a twist of brilliance.
Dan Cassaro aptly summed up this potential of a purely type-based identity when he said that "Letters sit squarely between information and meaning so what we choose to do with them is very important and exciting" (p8, Little Book of Lettering by Emily Gregory). These examples from across the globe show the way.
Take a look, and you should emerge freshly inspired and challenged to look at typography in a new way...
The Historic House Trust of New South Wales is dedicated to the preservation of Australia's most historically significant and impressive properties. This clever new logo was created byo Sydney-based design studio Frost*, who came up with the clever concept of using title letters to create a key to the city. This is used in conjunction with a stacked, typographic word mark, capitalised and drawn in the sans-serif font, Sofia Pro.
Canopy is an organization dedicated to planting trees for governments, companies, organizations and individuals so as to offset carbon emissions. Through use of scale and extension of letters, this logo cleverly transforms the word 'canopy' into a tree.
This logo was created by Parallax, an agency driven by strategic thinking, which strives to create solutions for their clients that "engage and inspire the consumer".
- Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Based in Sydney, Frost* is an internationally- awarded studio with work spanning identity design, packaging, corporate literature, the built environment, installations, exhibitions and displays. It's declared mission is focussed on "inspiring ideas to life ® through simple, simply brilliant design".
Frost*'s logo for Gateway241, a commercial property development, is a slice of typographical genius. Sometimes, numbers can pose as letters and vice versa. In this company logo, an asterisk becomes a typographic snowflake - another slice of brilliance from the studio.
Kris Sowersby, aka Klim Type Foundry, makes excellent use of ligatures here. The T-h join is expertly handled and the 'm' featuring a droplet like the 'T', 'K' and 'g' is a very nice touch.
The creator of many typefaces, including Hardys and Serrano, Sowersby’s brilliant work in typeface design has led him to work with industry greats such as Erik Spiekermann, House Industries and Pentagram. He also made the ADC Young Gun list in 2010.
05. Pickle Pictures by Liquorice
What makes the identity of video production company Pickle Pictures so charming is its simplicity. A simple green outlined circle, and words that follow suit, emulate a sliced pickle, as well as possibly a roll of film. Its execution across various other elements is beautifully handled too - the logo is an embossed green sticker on brown envelopes and brown paper bags, which speaks to the visual language of a traditional packed lunch.
The logo was created by Liquorice Studio, a Melbourne-based branding and communications agency that's worked with some of Australia’s most well known companies, such as Origin Energy and Bupa Australia.
Executed in an interconnected, connect-the-dots manner, the logotype for Regional Arts Victoria visually conveys what it is that the organisation does - link artists to communities throughout Victoria.
It was created by StudioBrave, a Melbourne-based design studio whose ethos lies largely in their name; they believe that “brave thinking leads to unexpected outcomes” and are "inspired by summoning the courage to take a risk" on their path to excellence. Their work includes branding, annual reports, signage, publication design and packaging.
MNML is a publication that informs readers about minimalist architecture and design, aimed at 20-35 year old art lovers. It uses a minimalist design and colour palette to portray the topic, and this logo design by its creator, graphic designer Cassandra Cappello, is a brilliant use of typography and negative space.
The handwritten logo for popular email newsletter platform MailChimp reflects its informal and friendly nature, and along with its simian monkey mascot, forms a central part of the brand's appeal. Typography guru Jessica Hische was recently asked to tackle a logo redesign; she lightened the weight of the logo overall and improved the vector drawing, with the letterforms revised for legibility, especially at small sizes. The end result, as shown above, is a more refined, refreshed look whilst still portraying MailChimp's playful ethos.
09. News Corp
Rupert Murdoch's megacorporation News International recently split into two parts, and the publishing arm News Corp's handwritten logotype clearly evokes the concept of writing, which is the core of the business. The script is based on the writing of Murdoch and his father.
Masterfully combined flowing signature-like typography with an accompanying simple sans serif descriptor. Beautifully executed.
Anagrama, who describe themselves as "creative juggernauts", are a brand development and positioning agency from Mexico with an astounding body of smart, polished work in the fields of packaging design and corporate branding.
Expertly handling swashes, Simon Walker interlinks the 'G' and 'T' with the greatest of ease. Little touches like 'Est. 2011' placed in the negative space around the 'p', the apple placed in the negative space above the 'o' and the combination of the Austin East Cider’s logo with the logotype is sumblimely brilliant.
Browsing through Texas-based Simon Walker’s portfolio, there is no doubt that he is amazingly gifted in creating custom typographic work and logo designs. His masterful use of ligatures span a wealth of packaging and logo design. Amazing!
Allan Peters make such an inventive use of negative space! With the addition of one extra shape, a jet magically appears in the negative space of the logotype! The joined 'E' and 'T' is a lovely touch.
Peters' personal logo is well worth a mention too - such beautifully executed and handled swashes!
Besides being amazingly gifted in the realm of typography, illustration and identity design, you might have first discovered Allan Peters while stumbling across his amazing and inspiring blog which features outstanding identity design across the world. A former Art Director at BBDO and currently a Senior Art Director at Target, Allan’s work has been recognized by many magazines, including Communication Arts, Print, How and Rockport. In recent news, Graphic Design USA has named him as the person to watch in 2013.
I first stumbled across Sam Soulek a few years ago, after finding this fake identity he created called Fame: Branding Bar & Liquor Lounge for FAME Retail Brand Agency. As well as the logotype in this instance being strong, engaging and a great example of well crafted Blackletter typography, there is such a beautiful, natural flow to the letter forms. See more on the project here.
Minneapolis-based, multi-disciplinary designer Sam Soulek is well versed in creating outstanding identities, illustration, packaging and illustration. He has been recognized by numerous top graphic design organizations, including AIGA MN Design Show, Graphis, HOW and Print and his work has been published in various books worldwide, including LogoLounge and Gestalten. His portfolio will leave you feeling freshly inspired to take on some new logotype challenges!
14. Erik Marinovich logo by Erik Marinovich
Erik Marinovich’s personal logo, possibly deriving inspiration from documents and signatures from the 1800s, is a great example of his flawless custom lettering skills! The ligatures of the letters interlink so beautifully and naturally that Erik makes his work seem effortless!
Co-creator of FriendsOfType.com and co-founder of TitleCase.co, San Francisco-based Erik Marinovich is a lettering and designer GENIUS (take a browse through his extensive portfolio and you’ll see what I mean). He has worked for top profile clients such as the New York Times, GAP and Nike and has freelanced for top profile studios such as Landor and Brand Union.
Italian designer notebook brand Moleskine's logo, like its products, is simple yet refined, and it recently got a refresh courtesy of Milan-based consultancy A+G Achilli Ghizzardi Associati, with a new proprietary font that has a softer look than the previous logo.
Based in Amsterdam, Mark Sloan is an incredible designer with a sharp eye for typography, which can be seen in his excellent body of identity design. His identity for The Silver Brown Dance Co masterfully mixes script and sans serif type in a way that they work cohesively together as a unit.
- Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
17. Edge Board
Edge Board is handmade chopping board with a unique feature - an edge you can use to gather and slide chopped food, preventing it from spilling on the floor. Here, the product's initials happily coincide and demonstrate the Edge Board’s feature in a simple but effective fashion.
The logo was created by Hampus Jageland, a Swedish graphic designer, art director and creative thinker currently working at Sid Lee in Paris. Jageland has worked for top agencies Saatchi & Saatchi (Sweden), Blue Marlin BD (Sydney and London), The Creative Method (Sydney) and Maud (Sydney). His areas of expertise include identity design, packaging design, publication and information graphics.
This custom liquid-like identity for CityHint, an easy way to find and book spa and salon appointments, has a beautiful sense of flow and is a great example of letters working interlinking together effectively. In both cases the letter ‘t’ adds detail to other letters in the logotype.
It was created by Deividas Bielskis, a Lithuanian graphic designer specializing in logo and identity design who has worldwide clients and over 5 years' industry experience under his belt.
The subtle rotation of a single letter can convey a huge amount. Here just a small shift in direction captures the moment just before equilibrium (a state of rest or balance) is reached.
This logo was created by Noeeko, a Polish multi-disciplinary design studio founded by art and creative director Michal Sycz, which works across the fields of identity design, editorial design, packaging design and web design.
A beautiful use of playful, yet classic ligatures in this logo for a Budapest night club. Here the ‘r’ and ‘f’ in the logotype complete the letter next to them.
It was designed by Miklós Kiss, a Hungarian graphic designer highly skilled in typography and identity design. His fields of expertise include logo identity design and packaging design.
By simply rotating the ‘E’ of the logotype and adding a bit of embellishment, this design for independent house painter Noel Devereux is transformed into a mark that visually demonstrates his abilities.
It was created by Wemakedesign, who describe themselves as being "big on experience, small in stature; reliably deliver quality, value and that bit of magic; always going the extra mile".
- Location: Dublin, Ireland
Laga is an industrial design firm. Traditionally industrial designers seek to improve a product’s functionality and usability, often stripping the product down to its most basic core and making it more accessible.
So it was fitting that Jiyoung Lee created the logotype from building blocks - the most basic and accessible shapes that an industrial designer would likely start off with in a project. These shapes are rearranged across all identity elements.
Based in South Korea, Jiyoung Lee has vast experience in the world of graphic design, having worked as a UX designer for numerous New York and South Korea agencies. Her body of work, especially her identity design and packaging design, is largely colourful, with an underlying sense of fun.
Cleverly based on the thought of musical scores, the logotype for film anthology The Birdsong Trilogy is artfully arranged on a couple of lines to simulate a bar of music.
With Eames’ motto of "Take your pleasure seriously" and an emphasis on collaboration and mutual respect in hand, multi award-winning &Larry continue to create masterful pieces that are honest and functional across their body of advertising, branding and design work.
- Location: Singapore
Freespace Fest is an installation in a sense; organized by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture, Freespace Fest seeks to "test the boundaries of cultural freedom in public space where participants can shout, sing, dance or simply play at their will; it is the space to provide freedom for different cultural elements and art forms to cross, for performers and the public to interact."
By imaginately re-arranging and confining 'space' into an outlined rectangle, it not only demonstrates a sense of space and movement, but also symbolizes what the Freespace Fest is all about: a group of people gathering (the word 'space') in a public space (the outlined rectangle). Ken Lo also designed 8-bit-styled icons to be used across the event’s collateral.
You might have already stumbled across Ken Lo’s work, namely the very clever Calenclock for Antalis and his work for the English & Communication Festival of City University of Hong Kong. Ken Lo always strives to create simple and bold work across a broad range of fields including identity design, packaging, environmental graphics.
- Location: Sheungwan, Hong Kong
Here Jakarta-based Zaky Arifin has created a fun, organism-like logotype through altering a single letter and has created an imaginative variety of different lock-ups for different collateral.
Arifin is well known for creating skillful typographic and custom hand lettered works (including constructing his own custom typefaces), as well as creating memorable identities.
Asylum’s design for chocolate store Chocolate Research Facility makes great use of positive and negative space, through only using the counter spaces of the 'o' in the logotype.
Tipped as being the best design agency in Singapore by ICON UK, Asylum is defined as being“ an unconventional maverick in the creative world”. Asylum has worked on big brands like Johnnie Walker, nabbed over 100 international awards and has been featured in over 50 international magazines worldwide.
- Location: Singapore
Another great example of using the positive and negative shapes of letters in a logotype can be seen in this strong brand identity by Fabian Parra. The encircling 'B' could also be used as a stand-alone icon for the brand.
Fabian Parra is a Colombian designer highly adept in typographic work and identity design.
- Location: Bogota, Colombia
A simple but brilliant and well executed logo for Parla, a communications magazine by Diego Hodgson. In this logotype, ligatures are replaced by commas and apostrophes. Very smart idea!
Diego Hodgson, a designer from Chile, is highly skilled in icon design and typography and approaches identity design with smart, bold thinking.
A logotype that demonstrates its meaning purely through the re-imagining and altering of its letters. Here Orlando Aquije Abarca has transformed the letter ‘e’ into an infinity symbol. Smart thinking.
Orlando Aquije Abarca is a Peruvian graphic designer skilled in illustration and typography.
Through clever positioning and subtle added details, the 'b' of the logotype for clothing company Bad Rabbits magically transforms into mini rabbit icons.
Pablo Cánepa , a designer all the way from Uruguay has a signature playful typographic style and also has a great body of clever logo design work.
- Location: Montevideo, Uruguay
A proposal for the Californian rock band No Doubt, Isabela Rodrigues creates a typographically interlinking logotype here. The 'u' interlinking with both 'o' are a very nice touch and the logotype is nice finished off and balanced by the 'n' and 't' both ending in an arrow shape.
Isabela Rodrigues is a Brazilian based design studio with a passion for branding, illustration, art direction and front-end mobile app design.
- Location: Porto Alegre, Brazil