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Monday, July 18, 2005

Typeface logo solution

One thing that bugs me is when I see a sign or logo where a designer (or someone claiming to be a designer) fails to look for the subtle details that makes for decent design. Ok, maybe there is not the budget to go into full development of a unique logo? Maybe all you can do is work with a typeface to create an original look? Fine, I get it; sometimes that is what we get. If that is the case, work with the fonts a little.

Back in the 80’s, yes I said it - sans computer designers, I had the opportunity with work with a small software application used to capture the essence of a font. We had to create a “path” around the bitmap font to smooth it out if you will. Using a MAC 512 we swapped floppies until the application loaded. The application was the precursor to Adobes’ Illustrator®. Back then, while creating paths around bitmap fonts we learned the computer was not as smart as we hoped. We needed to print out the text, wax it, and then kern the heck out of it to make it flow. Today, computer do so much more then they did back then, however they’re far from perfect. So designers don’t loose the fine art of kerning and leading.

My suggestions may seem old school but it will certainly help in your final design.
- Print out your text solution as large as your printer will allow – black and white.
- Look at the art upside down, in a mirror or tape it to the light box or window so the art reads backwards.
- Study how the letters interact with each other. Does one character dominate another? Are there any gaps between the serifs, or descenders and/or ascenders?
- If there are issues, pull the font into an application like Freehand® or Illustrator® and play with the kerning.
- If you need to, convert the fonts to paths (outline view). Ungroup them and start manipulating the characters until there is balance to the text.

Virtually every word that appears in a logo or display, should go through this amount of scrutiny.

To our clients, (speaking on behalf of a my fellow designers) please give us the time to do this and don’t accept less from your designer. Recognize that this is what separates an OK design with one that has been carefully crafted specifically for your needs. Everything should be intentional and thought through.



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