Logo Modernism from Taschen.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailpngOver the last seven years, Jens Müller has been collecting and compiling modern logos created from 1940 to 1980. As Müller puts it, this was the golden age of the modernist aesthetic in design, architecture, art, product design. And to a point he is right. Some of the most visually memorable brand marks and logos come from this four decade period. Müller’s collection is what makes up the content of Aachen’s 6000 page tome  Logo Modernism.

The book covers pretty much every business and organization of note, and represents a sweeping retrospective modernism and how the style changed over time. Broken into specific sections the book’s main chapters cover Geometric, Effect, and Typographic. Each sub-chapter breaks down each style even further into sections such as dots and squares, overlays, alphabet, color, etc.The book features an introduction from Jens Müller on the history of logos, and an accompanying essay by R. Roger Remington on modernism and graphic design. In addition there are series of designer profiles on masters of the craft Paul Rand, Yusaku Kamekura, and Anton Stankowski focusing on their legendary work.

In typical Taschen heritage, the book is physically huge. at 10 by 14 inches in size and 432 pages of content. And as always from Taschen, the book is multilingual. It’s available for pre-order and this just made my list of books to add to the reference library. Oh and it’s affordable. Just $69.00 on the Taschen site.

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How a Five Year Old Sees Your Brand.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the case of a logo or brandmark that is a golden rule. Your logo needs to communicate what the company, brand or product is visually with little or no help from words. This isn’t always the case, but a good logo can tell you what the company, or brand is about in a quick glance.

The video below is simply wonderful. It is the impression logos leave on a five year old as they are shown to her. One very interesting thing, is her response at age five to some very well known logo types. As you watch the video, listen for her reaction as certain global brands are shown.

Mad Men. Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price Logos.

I am a huge Mad Men fan, and I am a little disappointed that the 2011 season is getting pushed back to 2012 due to “Creative Differences” between the lead writer/series creator, and the producers. If the show gets delayed my summer TV viewing is pretty much shot. On a brighter note over on Tumblr, Fredrick Samuel and friends have launched a little Mad Men project to see what the Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price logo would look like with todays agencies. Below are a few, the rest are here and well worth the visit.

Sterling Cooper Draper Price as Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Sterling Cooper Draper Price as Publicis

Sterling Cooper Draper Price as JWT

Sterling Cooper Draper Price as McCann

Sterling Cooper Draper Price as BETC, Paris

The Graphic Design of Racing Cars

I have always been fascinated with the graphic elements on racing cars. Especially vintage racing cars from the 60’s and 70’s before massive product sponsorship trumped any sense of style with a gigantic marketing message. Gestalten has a new release coming out that is available for pre-order on Amazon. “Go Faster The Graphic Design of Racing Cars“, by Sven Voelker. and I am thinking this might be the next book I add to my collection.

Fast cars, anarchy, and graphic design collide on the pages of this book as it chronicles the history of race car graphics and the design behind them. Most people don’t know that racing giants from the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, and Lotus developed their looks not by marketing strategists or graphic designers. In the early days it was by chance.

Go Faster is a collection of over one hundred examples of racing car design that documents the carefree racing world where they were created. Go Faster not only takes its readers on a breakneck ride through images of racing history, but each colorful racing car is featured next to a blank white model. The model shows the lines and shape of the vehicle in its unadorned state. This side by side placement helps the viewer see exactly how the graphics modulate the look of the car. And it gives plenty of room for the viewer to imagine their own possibilities for graphic design in motor sports.

In the book you can see how stripes, colors, logos, and numbers combine to help the car stand out from all others on the track as they go by at top speed.

The time and effort invested in the graphic looks of the race cars is a strange  juxtaposition compared to the aerodynamic shape of the bodywork created by the  engineer for car. But it is precisely this amateur quality, this anarchy and randomness that results in the irresistible attraction that racing cars and their graphics have on us.

Author Sven Voelker is a car enthusiast and graphic designer in Berlin. He is responsible for the global corporate design of the Suzuki Motor Corporation and other clients.

Logo Design and the Use of the Negative

What makes a logo really work? What gives it that certain pop that allows it to stand out from the crowd? In many cases it is the clever use of negative space. Using “whitespace” effectively as an active part of the design doesn’t just create visual harmony – it also produces optical illusions that elevate this vital brand identity element from bland to iconic. By incorporating negative space into a logo with adept skill, designers can make maximum visual impact with the simplest elements possible.


This could possibly be one of the most famous examples of using negative space in logo design, and also one of the most subtle. FedEx’s white arrow, formed by the joining space where the E and the X meat is a detail that many people don’t even notice, yet it is an excellent example of good logo design. Designer Lindon Leader of Leader Creative explains why it’s there.

“An arrow, in and of itself, is one of the most mundane graphic devices in visual communications. Truly, there is nothing unique or particularly strategic (marketing-wise) in using an arrow as a brand identifier… The power of the hidden arrow is simply that it is a hidden bonus. Importantly, not ‘getting the punch line’ by not seeing the arrow, does not reduce the impact of the logo’s essential communication.”

Ogden Plumbing

According to designer Matt Everson, “Ogden’s core competency is great service, so I was determined to create something friendly and personal. I focused almost exclusively on the human figure as I knew this could illustrate many things (response, strength, personal service, etc. In messing around with wavy, water-like shapes I developed the running plumber image and saw the opportunity to incorporate the plunger.”  This logo would be totally different and probably far less effective if the plunger were in the other hand, raised above his head. It would probably read more like a weapon than a tool and it would change the dynamic balance of the overall logo itself.

Café Melody

The Café Melody Logo designed by Jure Klaric for a lounge bar in Croatia gets more effective the longer you look at it. The two simple shapes make a slightly stylized “C” for “café”, and they visually form a coffee cup on a saucer as seen from above. In addition the shapes join to form a volume button, which helps to emphasize the name, and function of the lounge. Coffee, and Music.

8 Fish

Using separate images of eight fish to illustrate the company’s name would be far too busy for a logo design if it weren’t as well done as this. Jerrod Ames managed to fit them all into a logo that is still crisp and minimalist. The logo plays off of Escher like styling creating vibration, and balance all at the same time.

Harris Structures

Designer Ahab Nimry of St. Louis created this logo using two ‘H’s including the one formed by negative space which come together to form a complete structure as seen from an isometric angle. The logo is quite fitting for a company named ‘Harris Structures’.

ED ‘Elettrodomestici’

This logo by Gianni Bortolotti is pure genius, based on pure mathematical perfection.  Although it probably helps  that the letters ‘E’ and ‘D’, which stand for Elettrodomestici, Italian for ‘household electric appliances’, when placed side by side happen to form the shape of an electrical plug.


Designed in 1951 by Georg Olden, one of the first African-Americans to achieve some notoriety in the postwar graphic design field. is a beautiful example of positive and negative space playing to each other. The mark is an unmistakable as an eye, yet it is distilled down to the simplest of elements. The Eye device was conceived by William Golden based on a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign as well as a Shaker drawing.


In contrast to CBS, who’s logo has changed very little over the last 58 years, NBC needed a lot of tries to get it right. NBC went through no less than 6 ineffective logos, including a xylophone and a much busier version of the current peacock, before settling in 1986 on what is now considered an iconic example of effective logo design. Designed by Chermayeff and Geismar they took the peacock, which was already the established visual mark for the network, and simplified it with the use of negative space.