Subscribers of the Design Cafe decided to hold a little in-house design competition to develop a new mark for the CAFE to be put on coffee mugs and embroidered on shirts. Nearly 100 logos were submitted out of which 16 finalists were selected -- then they voted. The results brought some interesting comments and developments.
Designing a Logo for the CAFE
Comments from Design Celebrities
At the onset of any design project, of course, there needs to be a "Design Brief" or other statement of the specific needs and goals of the final design. The initial design brief was as follows:
- MISSION: Create a unique Logo/Mark for: "The "Design Cafe"
- The Design Cafe List is a place for friendly, helpful, casual discussions amongst graphic designers, publishers, illustrators, photographers and others interested in the pursuit or creation of visual communications"
- The mark must be "friendly" and approachable.
- FORM: Typography alone or with mark
- COPY: "Design Cafe" (two words -- "The" is optional)
- ALT: Allowances should be considered for a small, non-integrated tagline: "Graphic-Design.com"
- MUST be readable and simple enough for small size or embroidery -- (Beware: fine lines, gradiations, shadows or light tints. Beware: light type faces or delicate serifs!)
- MUST be clearly readable within 100 x 100 pixels at 72ppi
- MUST work in Black and White as well as chosen colors
Recommended: Maintain at least a 40% Hue value difference between colors
- Use no main-element colors of less than 20% value
- MUST be directly convertible to HEX colors
- Consider alternate layouts for SQUARE as well as Horizontal (Stacked or one-liner)
Who was involved in this project?
The idea was intended to be just good fun between the listees. However, personally, I wanted to turn the project into a teachable, learning event All Cafe subscribers were invited to enter, with the hopes of having their logo chosen and used -- and to pick up some prizes in the process.
As the submissions began to come in, I contacted eight of my most trusted friends in the design industry to see if they would like to share some comments about designing logos, or about these particular entries. Four of them actually responded, and four others didn't. I sent them to the Design Cafe internal web page for the logos which showed a thumbnail and the full screen versions of the submissions.
I cautioned these ivory tower design professionals that the Cafe list is composed of a far-reaching array of computer users from all over the world; about 60% of which are non-professionals, without formal training, who find themselves in desktop publishing. Many others have just recently graduated from design training or are beginning in careers in graphic arts. The rest of the subscriber base is comprised of every walk of life from professional graphic designers, illustrators and publishing design professionals, writers, advertising professionals, educators, teachers, general business people, and even many work-at-home hobbyists. They all share an interest in the visual arts and the camaraderie for which the Cafe is famous.
Logos are like a box of chocolates
... You never know what you're going to get.
The submissions began to stack up, and many dozens were simply not acceptable, or totally ignored the Design Statement (above) so, were discarded. Others showed some real possibilities and were held for final consideration. A couple of the logos had immediately recognizable flaws -- but had great potential -- so we reluctantly contacted the designers with suggestions for possible refinement. Several other logos looked like home runs from the onset so they were put in the list to publish and vote upon. But what the ivory tower designers had to say cast another story on the project.
Here are the sixteen logo finalists
Throughout the entire project no one knows who designed which logos, and I've carefully kept my favorites a secret. The voting is over, and a final has been selected. But we'll get to that in a few moments. As the process unfolded, it became a fascinating experience at what people think logos are, how they react to different imagery, and what rings some people's bells. I want to sincerely thank everyone who has had some part in the process, and hope everyone benefits and learns something from the experience.
The Reactions and Comments
- Cafe Attendees Comment - Selected reactions and comments from Cafe Listees, random order, names withheld.
- Leslie Cabarga comments on the Design Cafe Logo
- Chuck Green "Critical Thinking" ... Designing a Logo
- Roger Parker comments on the Design Cafe Logo Project (Coming Soon)
- Designers John McWade & Fred Showker go head to head in this critique and make-over of the Design Cafe Logos (Coming Soon)