Brushstroke Blog

Just a few thoughts on art and design-related subjects...

This is an article published by Graphic Arts Today on Logos and Branding how to...

How to Create the Best Logo for your Business

In this digital era, we are bombarded by logos from every angle; every page opened, website, literally everywhere.

Stepping out of the technological zone, almost everything from your breakfast cereal to your desk at work has been branded with a logo design.

Fonts are the most important visual tool in design. They are the perfect shoes for the outfit. Use the wrong shoes and you kill the look. The strongest sign that you are new to fonts is you want to use them all. Just because you can... don't! When in doubt, restrain yourself and simplify. Unless you are making a font poster, use one or two fonts that work together. Please.

Although there are thousands of fonts and we could talk about them until the end of time, we are keeping it simple by separating them into four main categories: Serif, Sans Serif, Script and Display.

Serif: These fonts have "feet". They are considered more serious or traditional. Traditionally, these fonts were preferred for reading because the serifs made it easier to navigate visually helping your eyes along the lines of text. However, this is not true of the digital pixel world, where sans serif fonts are easier to read.

I became aware of the Internet in 1994. Like most people at that time, I first logged in through AOL. It didn't take my family long to realize that the internet was a huge world and AOL was just a tiny fraction of it and they tyrannically decided what you had access to. So, we quickly logged out and found an independent ISP.

We learned HTML and started playing with Web design. Websites were very simply coded then and anyone could get into the Web design game. It was a lot of fun. My 13 year old daughter published a weekly online Zine, where she and her friends posted poetry and stories. She coded her own site.

Then a new faster modem would come out that would allow you to do more with your site. Daily, more people flocked to the experiment that was the Internet. It was what you wanted it to be.People started adding a :links to favorites" page and you could spend all night going from someone's favorites to someone else's, thus "surfing" the net had begun. 

Simplicity is one of the hardest things to achieve. If you do a search for simplicity, you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of quotes from famous people who were known for their sophistication – From Steve Jobs, to Richard Branson, to Albert Einstein, to Confucius, all lived a live striving for simplicity. Although many of these people are known for philosophies or products, they are all talking about the same exact thing.

We are born simple. Children's drawings are usually on target extracting the essence of what is important in what they are trying to depict. They don't need anymore. A stick figure defines their thoughts. Why then does humanity become so complicated?

As designers, we should all be striving to find that essence in everything we do. Go directly to it and bypass all the extra noise that we don't need.

"Just because you have the space, it doesn't mean that you have to fill it."

This is a interesting article published in LinkedIn (link below). As a seasoned designer of 30+ years in the business, just a few years ago, these companies would have hired one of the major advertising agencies to design their branding and the CEO would have understood the importance of hiring the best in the business. Not anymore. Today, most people think that they can either do it themselves because they have a "computer", or they have a nephew that is really good with "computers" or worse, go to the $99 logo online companies. I had a boss that said to me years ago "that and 25 cents will buy you a coffee."

A few years ago I would tell my clients it was very important to keep their sites up to date for SEO reasons. If a site didn't get updated on a regular basis, the search engines would stop indexing it and it would loose it's ranking. Now, I have to tell my clients to keep their sites updated because if they don't they are going to get hacked.

This has been the year of the hacker. Millions of sites have been hacked by different waves of viruses sent out with the sole purpose of killing your site. If someone had told me this would be of any concern to me 5 year ago I would have thought they had very vivid imaginations. But, now, it is a sad reality that anyone with an online presence is so aware of. If they are not, they are living in a fool's paradise. 

In the last few months some of my clients sites have been hacked. There was one hacker so bold that he left his calling card and where to find the virus file that he had planted in the site. Others are not so nice. 

When I first started "designing" Websites back in 1994 no one could have convinced me that the future of the Web would look like it does today. We went from a gray background with black text on it to awful backgrounds, to frames, to gif animations (the whack the mole banners come to mind), to Flash animated sites that were beautiful to look at but hard to navigate, to the awful portals (who the heck thought of that as being a good ides?), to dynamic sites, to Content Management Systems, and now, the era of Google. I am calling it that because all the processes that I went through and all the coding I learned in the last 22 years was obsolete last year. Everything changed in a matter of months. With Google announcing that they would penalize sites that were not Mobile friendly, everyone worldwide had to comply. And comply we did. 

If there is a huge pet peeve of mine, it is Powerpoint or Keynote presentations. Back in 1993, I worked for a company in Huntsville, Alabama that did a lot of support work for Strategic Defense, such as engineering, graphic design, illustration, etc. I worked with a group that created power point presentations that Strategic Defense presented to Capitol Hill to raise funds for specific high security projects. I had a high security clearance to draw Hummers. (Yeah, way before soccer moms had them). I drew Hummers, missiles, airplanes, and warfare, with all sorts of equations and symbols, most of which I didn't understand. Had I been kidnapped and tortured for information, I wouldn't have been able to save myself since I didn't know what any of it meant.

I found the following quote in an article Mike Dunkan for the Wilmington Biz. It got me thinking and inspired me to write about the importantce of having good communication with your graphic designer and allowing him/her to spend the time achieving the best image for your company ...

 "Did you know that the Facebook Like button is seen over 22 billion times per day? That it’s the single most viewed design element ever created? And that the designer who led the project spent over 280 hours redesigning this innocuous little button over the course of months?" 280 hours!!!

I came across this article at the Huffington Post (Click below to read) on working with graphic designers. And I thought it would be really nice to share it. It has some good tips. But, there are still more tips that I could add to the article to aid those wishing to work with a professional graphic designer.

My two cents...

After reading the company's Brand Renaissance PDF, I realize the massive undertaking that they are getting ready to do. If the logo was only going to live on the present buildings' exteriors and interiors, it would never work. I would have to say... WRONG! But, in reading the document (page 26 of PDF doc) and looking at the projected spaces that the logo is going to live in and the new cuisine and approach, I believe it will be just fine. We are not talking The Russian Tea Room. This is mediocre American-Italian food. So, who cares?

I know the OG cuisine is not anything to write home about, but...

In the 80’s, when I was the exhibit designer for the Ringling Museum of Art, in Sarasota, FL., I fulfilled all the creative needs for exhibits and museum events. I not only designed and helped implement exhibits, but was also responsible for the catalogs, labels, brochures, banners, posters, signage, and invitations, as well as all marketing materials for the Museum events, such as the annual Renaissance Fair, and the Crafts Festival. And, finally,  items for sale in the museum shoppe, such as mugs, and shopping bags. The museum budget for exhibits and printing was just enormous. An exhibit could get a grant that included money for installation, catalogs, posters, signage, and invitations. We had to spend every cent, and we were happy to comply. These budgets also kept a whole array of other businesses afloat in the area.

My job as a designer in those days was more like an orchestra conductor. An exhibit could generate an incredible amount of design needs: catalogs, posters, banners, invitations, labels, ads, and signage. All had to be carefully crafted months ahead of the opening day in order to have enough production time. This was the era right when the Macintosh was starting to change the industry and everything was done manually with an xacto knife and rubber cement. 

In 1982 I moved to Altos de Chavon, a then artist village in the south east coast of the Dominican Republic. The village was built in the image of a 16th century European village and was a hook by Gulf & Western's Costasur, the developer, to sell Luxury Real Estate. The very rich want to be surrounded by art and culture and there was very little of that in a multimillion dollar new Real Estate-Golf Resort development which was hours away from any of the cultural centers in the island.