5 Tried and True Design Devices for Logo Designers

Thanks to Bill Gardner and LogoLounge and judges Aaron Draplin (Draplin Design Co.), Von Glitschka (Glitschka Studios) Su Mathews Hale (Lippincott), Andreas Karl  (Karl Design) Chad Michael (Chad Michael Studio), Emily Oberman (Pentagram), Yo Santosa (Ferroconcrete) Felix Sockwell, Alex Tass, and Alex Trochut for all their insights and opinions into the logo design trends and insights that tried-and-true as well as impacting design in a fresh way right now.

When applied appropriately, crests can convey a sense of tradition, whether the brand has a rich history or not, and they blend a variety of design elements to create a cohesive look. “I like them because they are complex but still simple to read and take in,” Glitschka says. “A handful of these were in my top-rated logos.”

Draplin adds, “I loved the ‘pack a bunch of stuff in’ crests I saw. But of course, those work best when you can read all the stuff, say, on a T-shirt. I just dug the detail, line consistency and overall spirit of how people packed in a ton of info to such beautiful lock-ups. That’s how we used to do it on the top of a barrel carrying—I don’t know—hard tack or some shit.”

logo design ideas; crestsCopper & Brave by Braue: Brand Design Experts 

logo design ideas; crestsPrinted Threads by Paul Sirmon LLC

logo design ideas; crestsElevation Beer Co. by Sunday Lounge

“I have noticed the use of basic geometric elements—circles, squares, either on their own or involved in constructions where symmetry and logic were involved,” Tass explains. “It is definitely a classic direction, but one that never gets old.”

logo design ideas; geometric devicesSteeple Bay by Gardner Design

logo design ideas; geometric devicesTsukat by Brandforma

logo design ideas; geometric devicesStacks by Greg Thomas

“The unified weight look has really caught fire over the past decade, where an image or typography is designed with a single stroke weight,” Michael observes. “I enjoy this approach, but it is difficult to master beautifully.”

logo design ideas; monolineOutbound Coalition by Brokenstraw Art & Design

logo design ideas; monolineFluent by Tractorbeam

logo design ideas; monolineMagnus Alpha by Mauricio Cremer

[Discover 6 things to avoid when designing a logo]

With so many breweries and coffee shops popping up everywhere, it’s no surprise that hand-lettered, artisan logos are still relevant. People crave the details over the monotony. Sockwell thinks it’s simpler than that. “There’s a lot of digital stuff that looks impersonal, and this goes directly against that.”

In the same vein, seals and type on a curved baseline were prevalent. As Santosa notes, “They are classic devices, but I’m guessing it’s really popular because it gives a crafty/artisan feel.”

logo design ideas; handcrafted logotypesGreen5 by Denis Ulyanov

logo design ideas; handcrafted logotypesMadison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild by Chapa Design

logo design ideas; handcrafted logotypesWild Theory Brewing Co. by Sunday Lounge

“The highlighted silhouette look has been around for over 100 years, so I found it comforting to know designers are still employing this and successfully so,” says Michael. “Of course, as with any style, it is all about execution and avoiding regurgitating a form we’ve all seen a hundred times. The highlighted silhouette is here to stay.”

logo design ideas; highlighted silhouettesKeg Creek Brewing by Oxide Design Co.

logo design ideas; highlighted silhouettesHighbrow by Spin Design

logo design ideas; highlighted silhouettesKhi-Khi Milk Co. by J Fletcher Design

[Online Course: Logo Design Basics]

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What’s Wrong with This Picture? Designing a Logo with an Online Service

logo design awards

A memorable and effective logo design is like the ballet: It looks easy, but it represents thousands of hours of hard work and sweat, research and thought, plus an occasional dose of frustration, distilled into a tiny beautiful moment. Within the field of graphic design, logo design is a subspecialty that commands high prices, and for good reason. However, there are now plenty of websites where, for nominal fees, anyone can commission a logo or create one themselves by choosing from a kit of icons and typeface options, mixing and matching to their heart’s content.

This development was inevitable, and many professional designers hate the thought that their years of training and expertise are not valued by potential clients who think design services are overpriced and that their kids could do just as good a job designing a logo. It’s almost too easy to make fun of the whole thing as a design travesty, etc.

But assumptions aside: Is it possible to commission a decent logo from one of the interactive places? We decided to find out.

I invented a company whose sole product is called Cat Crunchies, and randomly selected a logo design website. It promised four separate logo concepts (though you receive only one as a final) created by two dedicated designers, with 48-hour turnaround, unlimited revisions, and a money-back guarantee. With a coupon offer, the lowest-priced package cost $39 (normally $149).

On each round of comments I gave deliberately ambiguous feedback. In an ideal world, when this happens a graphic designer comes back to the client for a quick conversation to clarify and learn what he or she was really hoping to see. Because my only option for phone contact was with a very nervous-sounding project manager working out of what sounded like a telemarketing room, I was never given an opportunity to communicate directly with the people responsible for bringing my vision to life.

Exact name to appear on logo: Cat Crunchies

Slogan (if any): Vegan, gluten-free treats for cats

Preferred style of logo: Modern

Look and feel: We want to convey the feeling of love for your cat and wanting to give him or her the very best healthy treats.

Additional comments: Comes in six flavors, provides 12 essential vitamins and minerals, cleans teeth and promotes healthy gums, responsibly sourced ingredients.

I added a random photo of my own cat, who sadly never made an appearance in any of the logo versions.

Started in a garage in Brooklyn in the fall of 2017, Cat Crunchies aims to give cat owners a healthy alternative to heavily processed treats found in supermarkets. We give 15% of profits to animal shelters and sponsor quarterly Adopt-A-Cat fairs. Every batch of Cat Crunchies is baked by hand and packaged in our signature tins.

Based on the information I provided and the above criteria, ideally the logo would allude in some way to a cat, perhaps communicate the idea of a crunchy treat as opposed to a daily meal, and also emphasize a healthy, small-batch, socially responsive vibe. I asked for “modern,” so I was hoping to see clean, contemporary-looking solutions to the assignment.

designing a logo with an online service

This solution was puzzling from the get-go. The Disney quality of the illustration doesn’t fit with any part of the design brief.

Client request after round one: Can we please try different and fewer colors, these look cartoon-y, and a more modern style of letters? Note: It isn’t only the colors that’s lending this one its cartoon vibe; it’s the illustration style. The designer needed to read between the lines of what I asked for and what I was objecting to, in order to fully resolve the issue.

What I got back? Salmon pink makes an appearance and the typeface has gone from a vaguely thorny serif to a squared sans. Not more modern, but definitely different. Cat remains the same.

Client request after round two: I like the colors better, but the cat looks very feminine. I worry that cat owners will think these treats are just for girl cats. Is there a way to fix that?

Resolution: Disney cat is gone, replaced with Maneki Neko, the lucky cat charm popular in Japanese and Chinese cultures. Huh? Less feminine perhaps, but not more appropriate—in fact, that kind of came out of nowhere, and doesn’t suit the brief either. Many people associate the color pink with femininity, so the designer might have tried to address that by presenting another color choice.

Decision: Unusable.

designing a logo with an online service

Navy blue and maroon are odd color choices for this project, considering they are most often seen in conservative palettes used for banking and/or insurance companies. Nothing about the color choices feels organic or food-related, says “cat,” or communicates anything about the use of natural healthy ingredients.

Client request after round one: I would like to see how it looks to play up the “Vegan” and “Gluten-Free” on this one since this is important to our customers. Can the colors look more like cat fur? [Note: this last remark was a deliberate attempt to be annoying.]

What I got back? Vegan and gluten free are now red instead of blue. No other methods of emphasis: change of scale, typeface, position were sent. Comment about cat fur colors ignored.

Client request after round two: Can we put the “vegan/gluten-free” into a separate little burst or a bubble? Also it would be good to try colors that look more like a cat.

Resolution: Half-hearted bubble drawn around existing words, with addition of a background color that is the same value as the red type, so the type basically disappears from lack of contrast. Second ask to try cat fur colors ignored. Designer appears to have given up.

Decision: Unusable.

designing a logo with an online service

This one was so depressing from the get-go (boring colors, unappealing blobby cat) that I almost didn’t attempt to work with it. Still, hope springs eternal.

Client request after round one: Could this one feel more exciting and show how owners love their cats? Maybe the letters are too plain, or the colors? [Note: This is a kind of typically vague client feedback. Unhappiness is expressed, but no real solid direction offered.]

What I got back? I have no idea what happened here. I imagine the designer with six YouTube windows open, texting, and microwaving a Hot Pocket while talking on a headset.

Request after round two: This one still doesn’t feel like it shows how you love your cat, maybe it’s the color or maybe it needs something that says love, like hearts or a hug?

Resolution: Holy crow. That heart is applied like a Band-Aid with no attempt to integrate it into the rest of the design. If the solution doesn’t work, solve it another way. Colors unchanged.

Decision: Unusable.

designing a logo with an online logo design service

The initial try had a playful quality that I appreciated. Although the cat looked a bit like an insect, this one seemed the most promising of the four design options.

Client request after round one: I think this would look good with fun colors and if the word crunchies was not cutting into the cat. Is it possible to say “cat” without showing a drawing of one? [Note: this was not a direct request to take the cat out.]

What I got back? The cat is gone, never to return. Colors are definitely more “fun.” The word crunchies is still overlaid atop the word cat, though.

Client request after round two: The word crunchies is still cutting into the word cat, can you move it down? (Perhaps I should have asked for the restoration of the cat drawing just to see what might have happened.)

Resolution: I got everything I asked for.

Decision: So is this a good logo? Sadly, no. Just filling a client’s requests doesn’t make for good design; a designer has to listen to feedback then think on it and offer better solutions. Most clients don’t speak the language of design well enough to be able to say what they really want; a designer’s job is partly to act as interpreter, define and solve the problem, and make suggestions on how to get there. This logo has some worthwhile qualities—the use of a textured typeface that jumps up and down from its baseline for the word Crunchies communicates noise and activity, and overall the design feels lighthearted, suitable for a pet treat product. But the kerning on “cat” is terrible and the word cat is not properly centered over crunchies.

On all four options, there were no real explorations of other concepts or potential solutions on any version after feedback. Changing small details like a type color or adding a burst to an existing design that isn’t working tends not to solve the problem. If a client asks to put something into a bubble, chances are good the designer has to rearrange things, play with scale and maybe a different typeface. What I got back weren’t really new versions, they were just quick alterations on the first idea. It felt like there was no opportunity for the designers to play and experiment, to try other options as what-ifs … in other words, the fun part of their jobs seemed absent.

This is not meant as a critique of the talent or abilities of the people assigned to my project. It’s more an illustration of the basic fact that all design, and logo design in particular, is about communication and vision. The designers and I never spoke but went through comments provided through an online form, via a middleman who probably had a dozen other projects he was trafficking at the same time. Even at the busiest, largest design agencies a client always has a chance to meet with the people on the design team, hear what they have to say, engage and exchange ideas, and collaborate. That’s what was missing from this experience, and that’s how I ended up with a hot pink and lime green logo for my vegan, gluten-free, small-batch Cat Crunchies.

Know what it is to put your own design acumen behind a great logo design? Don’t just let it sit there. Submit it for consideration to the HOW Logo Design Awards, accepting entries for a limited time!

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40 Things We Loved About HOW Design Live 2018

As we gear up to start the countdown to HOW Design Live 2019 in Chicago, which is just a little over 2 months away, we reflect on what an amazing week it was at HOW Design Live last year in Boston.

If you were able to make it there, you know exactly what we mean. Amazing keynotes and breakout sessions, surprises galore, networking and parties and swag—what an adventure!

For those of you who weren’t there, and for those of you who were and just want to soak in some of the good stuff all over again, enjoy this roundup of the best quotes, takeaways and memories from HOW Design Live 2018, both from the HOW editorial team’s point of view and that of attendees who documented their experience on social.

Oh, and! Be sure to register now for HOW Design Live 2019—May 7–10, 2019 in Chicago!

Adam J. Kurtz talking about the importance of personal work (for both fun and profit).

Amy Schwartz, who specializes in branding and digital experiences as creative director at Bright Bright Great and previously was the design director at Cards Against Humanity and Blackbox, spoke at HOW Design Live about how we can become the mentors we wish we had.

Congratulations to all the winners who won the HOW and PRINT booth drawing for a free HOW Design University certificate program!

Lots of relaxation and recharging (and fun!) happened at the HOW and PRINT booth!

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Should You Design Your Own Logo?


You’re a designer, so everything you design—not just what’s in your portfolio—is an example of your work.

When your prospects and clients go to your website or online portfolio to look at your work,
they will certainly assume that you’re the creative behind your logo design.

So how could you not design your own logo?

should you design your own logo?

All of the above makes sense, of course. Unless you’re one of those designers (and you’re not alone) who just can’t seem to finish designing your own logo (or your own website, for that matter, or
any other element of your own self-promotional materials).

It’s not that you aren’t working on your own materials. In fact, that’s the problem.

You’re always working on it, refining it, perfecting it. But no matter how much you tinker,
you’re still not happy with it. It never feels “finished” or “ready.”

But here’s the reality: Your own self-promotional materials are never done—they are always

And the fact that the web makes it possible to keep updating everything (unlike print, where it
is almost literally in stone) means that it never actually has to be finished. It just has to be
“good enough for now.”

Have you noticed too that it’s always easier to design for others than for yourself? That’s the ultimate paradox of being a designer—for some mysterious reason, you can’t do for yourself what you can so easily and naturally do for your clients. Why not?

More importantly, what to do about it?

What I’ve noticed in my almost 30 years of advising designers on their own marketing is this: You’re too close to it, and you may be a perfectionist.

Those two facts together can be lethal. But they don’t have to be.

From where I sit, here are your options:

Just finish it, even if it’s not perfect. And think about it as a work in progress.Hire another designer to do it for you. I know it seems like cheating but it’s not,
especially if that will get it done! You’re better off with a logo designed by someone else
than no logo at all.Trade with a fellow designer. This may be the best option—choose a friend or colleague whose work you like and who may be stuck in the same spot as you are, and design each other’s logos.

Whichever option you choose, I implore you to do something.

In fact, I dare you to put it out there, even in its unfinished or imperfect form. And see what
a relief it will be.

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10 Essential Poster Design Tips

Laying deep inside the creative brain, poster making ideas are sometimes hard to unhatch. Former Target creative director and poster maker extraordinaire, Allan Peters, tells us his top 10 tips for ideation and creation.

My name is Allan Peters. I went to art college because I wanted to draw every day for living. I didn’t want to design annual reports or apps, I wanted to fill galleries with work that people wanted to hang in their living rooms. I also didn’t want to just make pretty work; I wanted to make work that was provocative, work that made your brain happy as well as your eyes.

Over the years, I fell in love with poster design, and I’ve won pretty much every award on the planet doing it. I’ve learned quite a bit along the way, and I want to share a few poster design tips for anyone getting into this field. If you have a tip to add, I invite you to leave it in the comments below.


A great poster isn’t about a great aesthetic, it’s about a clever idea that’s skinned with a great aesthetic. Start out with a sketch, not on Pinterest. Start by filling a few pages with ideas. Once you have one you love, then start to think about the aesthetic of the illustration or lettering. The idea should drive the visual, not the other way around. In the example above, I was designing a poster for a creative conference called the Inside Job. I first decided that I wanted to design a pencil/gun, then I decided to illustrate it with a mono-weight black stroke to help combine the visual language of the pencil and the gun.


Sometimes I start with a word list. I list out nouns that evoke the message of the poster. Once I have my list, I start to combine them visually through sketches. In the poster above, the two words were “pencil” and “heart.” The message of the poster was that Target loves education. A poster of just a pencil or just a heart would be trite and pretty expected. The combination of the two elements creates something unique and ownable.


In 2009 my wife was pregnant with our first child. At the same time, I was asked to design a poster for the poster show Artcrank. The only rule about Artcrank is that the poster needs to be focused on bikes. I combined bikes and babies in this print that plays off of gender-specific bicycles.


If you’re screen-printing, consider overprinting. It’s a great technique that can score you an extra color without the cost. If you’re working with digital prints, explore the possibilities. Many screen-printers look down on digital printing when in fact it’s a great opportunity to integrate photography and subtle shading. If you’re doing a letterpress print, make sure you explore different papers that offer a deep impression as well as the level of natural paper texture.


Try thinking—and working—away from the computer. Figure out the best way to execute your idea, and if that means sculpting 3D type and pouring paint on it, do it. The natural imperfection that come with handcraft can amplify an idea that needs a level of humanity.


A wise man once told me that a good poster should be just as impactful at 50 feet as it is at 5 feet—and at 5 inches. In the example above, the posters read Target from +50 feet away. At 5 feet you notice the tiny person playing on the logo. At 5 inches you notice the emotion of the model as well as their striking wardrobe.

poster-design-tips7_TargetBranding2015When creating a poster for brand campaign, dissect the brand’s logo and explore what you can use as building blocks in your design. Integrating the logo elements will make your poster ownable and will avoid a client asking you to make the logo bigger. In the above posters for Target, I created patterns with the dot and the ring of the Target logo and integrated the diverse target audience in this branded world. These posters are distinctly Target and read Target at a glance without ever actually showing a Target logo.


Sometimes exploring the extremes of scale can add interest to an otherwise dull image. In these posters designed for a Summer campaign, I’m only showing a cart and a product; however, the scale of the product paired with the headline adds visual interest.


If you know your poster is going to be in a sea of posters by other designers, it’s ideal to make yours stand out. You can do this with bright color, pattern or high contrast. I’ve even seen people integrate small blinking lights into their prints.

In the Artcrank poster above, I integrated retina-burning black and white lines with a bicycle to portray speed as well as a way to highlight the bicycle’s linear frame design. This helped the posters stand out at the show as well as in Instagram feeds.


The most important tip that I can’t stress enough is to keep your poster design simple. Pick one idea and execute it with the fewest elements possible without losing the integrity of your idea. People are bombarded with visuals all day that are fighting for their attention. Make sure your poster is easily digestible at a glance. You shouldn’t have to explain the concept to anyone.

The poster series highlighted here is for Target’s Spring campaign. I picked a collection of icons that read Spring at a glance, and I illustrated them using only an Exacto knife and one piece of paper each. The simple illustration style is what makes them unique and interesting.

Thanks for reading. If you ever have any questions about poster design or branding, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @allanpeters. If you’d like to see more of my work, check out allanpeters.com.

For more on posters and poster making ideas, head here and here!

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15 Kick Butt Photos of Storms

Photos of storms can be about the most atmospheric and gripping of any landscape photography. In fact some people make storm photography and chasing storms their photographic specialty, following weather and forecast reports like hawks. We’re sure you will agree that the images of storms that they produce are well worth the specialisation with spectacular […]

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Photo Of The Week And More – Here’s What’s Happening On The Forums

So here is the wrap! If you are a new member make sure you introduce yourself to us. And we are sure that all the wonderful information here on Light Stalking and all the helpful and talented photographers on the forum will ensure you become the photographer that you want to be. Today we bring […]

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