Here is something that has been inevitable and has been on my mind for about a year or so. When I launched my t-shirt line a year ago it was my first big attempt at printing in a new medium, more specifically, paying for each color when screen printing. If you’re not laughing now, you should be, as it’s clear that wasn’t taken into account when I designed my full-spectrum logo in 2008. So as I went about designing things for the t-shirt line I realized how inflexible my rainbow sun was.
Not only did it involve 6 colors, but all those colors overlapped creating an additional 6 colors, 12 in total. In screen print land this is a nightmare to deal with as the t-shirt company needed to overlap the 6 colors manually to create the full 12. While it looked okay, this created inconsistencies with my brand colors which I always had a problem with. I started looking at brands such as Johnny Cupcakes, Coudal Partners and Draplin Design Co. to see how their identities worked and it was obvious that I needed to make some adjustments in order to get the Signalnoise identity more flexible. Something that will still look cool with the spectrum, maintain the overall shape that has been mine for a few years now, yet be more usable in different product areas.
Also, the 1-color version of my logo. I’ve been wanting to get into producing other Signalnoise products (such as pens, key-chains and other cool swag) but a big factor is printing in 1 to 3 colors to reduce cost. When I flattened my logo it looked like a flower. Lame. Can’t deny that. All the circles blended together into one big flat, uninteresting shape. I never liked that 1-color version of my logo, to the point where I was reluctant to use it anywhere on the web and printing. It had to change, and that was that.
And lastly, my Signalnoise wordmark. I’ve been using the Agostina wordmark for just over a year now and I still love it. The nice swooshes look pretty ’70s while maintaining that cool modern vibe. It’s a fun typeface to work with for sure and I still really dig it. But I started to reconsider recently when going over the new product ideas. Would it look good printed really small, like on a pen? Does it center well on a shirt? Does it work properly as a title with additional content below? The answer to those questions was mostly “no”. The stylized Signalnoise wordmark was always a bit awkward to work with on stickers, shirts and other stuff which is why you rarely saw it outside of the website masthead. It all comes down to function, man.
Over the last 3 years I’ve been adjusting the typefaces used across my brand, starting with the website. I used Egyptienne for quite a while because I always liked that face, but slowly moved over to a san serif, standardized design. When I felt the need to redesign my Signalnoise wordmark, the selection was clear. My beloved Akzidenz-Grotesk. Sturdy, reliable, practical and readable. Also, this was the first time I spent a considerable amount of time kerning the wordmark to have it flow properly. I was taught what kerning was in school, but never HOW to do it. Huge thanks to all the kind folks on Twitter who helped me out and gave advice as I tweaked it up, specifically to those who referred me to this article. Mega help, thanks gang.
The one thing I never like to standardize is how the logo and wordmark play together. I like having the flexibility to move each element independently in consideration of where it’s being displayed. Here are just a couple of combinations and I’m sure others will present itself as I continue:
In conclusion, I need to make one point clear. I love my rainbow sun. I love the colors, how they blended, and it’s basically the only logo I ever designed for myself that I liked. Feeling the need to adjust it was painful. I knew it was coming, I knew it was necessary, and I thought long and hard before moving in any direction. I did it delicately, and stared at the final for a week and a half before making a decision. This was a sensitive process. In the end, I feel I hit that elusive middle ground of new flexibility while maintaining the elements and form I loved most about it. And all it took was shifting the circles. Weird how the simplest approach is sometimes the best, huh?
As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.