Designer's fake Doctor Who logo tricks fans

Doctor Who concept logo

Hot on the heels of the Doctor Who Christmas special, which saw the debut of Jodie Whittaker in the lead role, online fans thought they were getting a bonus treat with the unveiling of the show's new logo (above). Sadly this wasn't the case, as the new logo design was revealed to be a piece of cleverly promoted concept work by graphic designer Jake Johnstone.

Tweeted by Johnstone with the tantalising caption: "So the new Jodie Whittaker Doctor Who logo is very 80s. I like it!", the design was quickly spread among fans who had been fooled by the logo.

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Perhaps it was the lighthearted wording of the Tweet, or maybe it was the strength of the design. Either way, the logo was well received by fans of the show. 

This is no mean feat. While fans were eager to welcome the new Doctor Who with amazing art, it doesn't take much for fan enthusiasm to turn. (We'll probably get a few comments pointing out that she's called the Doctor, not Doctor Who...)

However, as you'll read in any portfolio guide, misleading people with false information about a project – whether by implying a personal piece was commissioned by a client or that you did everything on a team project – won't get you far in the creative industry. 

And a day later, Johnstone pointed out that his design was just a concept.

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Johnstone, a self-taught London-based designer, is no stranger to making his work take off with promotional tactics. Having worked as a freelancer on political campaigns, including a design that went viral at the last election, it seems that he knows exactly how to get his design work noticed.

As for his concept Doctor Who logo, Johnstone admits that it was the product of pure boredom. "I was sat at home, had exhausted Netflix and thought I'd give it a try," he tells Creative Bloq. "I started designing [Doctor Who logos] years ago as a result of having a pretty crap Doctor Who blog, doing the website banners and such, so the show has always had a place in my heart."

Designing Doctor Who logos

All in all, the logo took 30 minutes to make in Photoshop, with Johnstone grabbing a few stock textures from Shutterstock. Pairing the Gotham font with a modified Josefin Sans turned out to be a winning combination, especially when he found a clever way to tie the concept design to the real show.

"The colours were swatched from the recent promotional image that the BBC released of Jodie in costume as The Doctor," Johnstone reveals. "I figured that being the only official image we have seen from the new series, that the colours would instantly resonate and look familiar with other fans. I think I was right judging by most of the reactions."

His hunch paid off. Hundreds of fans gave his design their approval, with some even incorporating it into fan art. Even when it was revealed to be a fake logo, the whole furore prompted other fans to get involved and share their take on the Doctor Who logo.

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Johnstone was flattered by the reaction, but says he felt guilty that some people thought that the logo was genuine. "Even though I suggested it was official I didn't expect it to go as viral as it did," he explains. 

"The excitement really reminded me of the days when I was a proper Whovian and it was fab to see that Doctor Who fans are still as passionate as I remembered. The most humbling thing is that my initial design kick-started a movement for other fans to come up with their own logo which people have shared online with each other."

Setting a precedent

However, there is a precedent for the work of Doctor Who fans being picked up and used by the show itself. After all, the title graphics for Peter Capaldi's run was based on a fan's concept YouTube video. So does Johnstone think he could be getting a call from the show's production team in the near future?

The official logo has already been completed by the BBC's extremely talented team

Jake Johnstone

"To be honest, I don't think so," he admits. "I've been told by a friend that works at the BBC that the official logo has already been completed by their extremely talented team and that it's totally different to mine or any we have seen before.

"I think that's the right step. The real logo needs to be much more thought-out and less obvious than the one I did, but it would be awesome to have some creative input into the show one day. I'm not expecting that to happen but it would be awesome if it did."

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Dom Carter

Dom Carter is a freelance writer who specialises in art and design. Formerly a staff writer for Creative Bloq, his work has also appeared on Creative Boom and in the pages of ImagineFX, Computer Arts, 3D World, and .net. He has been a D&AD New Blood judge, and has a particular interest in picture books.