Birth of the Signalnoise logo

Started playing with the spectrum, probably sampled from the Commodore 64 logo.
Overlapped those suckers to see what other tones the shapes produced.
Circles are cooler. Less aggressive.
No wait, how about some cubes with different darknesses? Might look cool.
What if the cube sides were different colours. That's fun. Maybe too "kid's room".
What if the cubes were ripped up and unfolded. That's weird.
Back to basics. Lets try some overlapping squares in a radial layout.
Skew that thing, all modern and whatever. Skewing is hip, right?
Still liked those overlapping circles from before. Try those in the radial layout.
Discovered the overlapping corners on the squares above make nice little leaf shapes. Cool!
Started combining some of these little experiments, which resulted in the first version of my rainbow sun.
I then simplified my previous logo last year into the current version.

I was hanging out with my buddy Nathan the other day who I actually worked with at an agency a few years ago. He told me he was rooting around some of my old files looking for something and came across a big Illustrator file full of logo experiments. Now, these experiments were actually for a client at the time but what I was building and exploring was axed before it was even shown. Bummer, right?

But everything happens for a reason. I liked the progression and experiments so much that I ended up using them directly to develop the current Signalnoise logo. When people in the office weren’t looking, I’d open that AI file to play with it and eventually landed on my rainbow sun. Funny how that happens, huh?

So, shown here for the first time are the little steps and experiments I noodled around with. Very different directions that all led to my final. A big thanks to Nathan for sending this file over, I hadn’t seen it in years.






20 responses to “Birth of the Signalnoise logo”

  1. mahmoudisthere Avatar

    u didnt sketch the idea first?

  2. james Avatar

    Not for this one, no. The entire form was built through messing around in Illustrator and experimenting with colour and shapes. I wanted something abstract but didn’t have a set direction in mind.

  3. mahmoudisthere Avatar

    great i wonder how long have you been playing to get the logo done

  4. jason Avatar

    Thanks for sharing this.
    I love seeing stuff like this that shows the thought process behind the final piece.

  5. ALLCAPS Avatar

    Still think the penultimate logo in this list was the best iteration.

  6. Matthew Marshall Avatar

    I’m surprised the infamous “Square With Two Rounded Corners™” didn’t show up somewhere in the process. They seemed to have been all the rage for a while.

  7. Andy Fox Avatar

    I quite like what’s going on in the weird ones (ripped up and unfolded) – I don’t know, maybe if they were animated or something. But I’ve always been a fan of the London 2012 Olympics logo, so what do I know, ha ha.

  8. Jose Espinoza Avatar

    This is great. Process pieces are amazing and inspiring. I particularily like the overlapping squares one.

  9. Kev Gilmour Avatar
    Kev Gilmour

    I’d say you kinda did sketch it, just in Illustrator not on paper. A sketch is defined as a preliminary investigation/exploration of ideas not as pencil on paper. Tools & media are irrelevant these days. I see a lot of educators demanding ideas start on paper and I think it’s an outdated idea, the mouse is a tool just like the pencil and the screen a medium just like paper, it’s perfectly logical that you can ‘sketch’ with it so long as we remember what sketching is and don’t just reach for the Type tool and start choosing typefaces!

    Thanks for showing the route James, it’s always nice to see where ideas start & how they meander along the way to completion.

  10. Ryan Smythe Avatar
    Ryan Smythe

    I dig your thought process as much as the final output. I’m sure the “creative pauses” helped as well.

  11. Cratos Avatar

    I STILL think you need to rethink the logo, sketch it out, make it relative to the signal noise.

  12. james Avatar

    Cratos, nope. This is the first logo I’ve designed for myself in 14 years that I like. Not touching it, especially to make it more literal.

  13. Dave (Spaceman Design) Avatar

    Nice process post, James. I’ve always liked your logo, both versions.

    It gets me thinking about my logo… will I ever be satisfied with it? It seems like designers are rarely happy with their own logos.

  14. Paul Pants Avatar

    Right on, Dave. It’s so easy to be critical of your own logo…maybe a group of designers should design each others logos instead of doing their own haha. James, the fact that you really, truly love your own logo is an awesome thing. No need to change it, especially for a more literal representation.

  15. Jamie Avatar

    Hey Dave, as an out sider looking at your logo, I think it basically works well. The only critique I may have is that it is seems quite large on the page, as it takes up the whole header, which is valuable web real estate. For instance, see how James’ logo is fairly small at the top of this page.

    I think also, it could be balanced a bit more, the mark looks quite large compared to the copy. Overall, though I like it.

    I hope this helps? I’ve been redesiging my identity at the moment, and it is by far the trickiest job I have ever had. Nothing’s ever good enough!

    I really hope this came over as helpful and not picky!!



  16. Dave (Spaceman Design) Avatar

    Paul – That’s not a bad idea! There’s always a chance you’d end up with something you didn’t like from one of the other designers, but it would be fun exercise at the very least.

    Jamie – Thank you for taking the time to look and give feedback! Looking at it again, I think your points are well-taken. Smaller and less-dominating would be an easy thing to try out.

    In closing, I’d simply like to say how much I appreciate this community of designers. You guys rock! I’m sure many of us miss the days of the SNBC broadcasts, and can’t wait for another spur of the moment announcement from Mr. White.

  17. Matt Avatar

    I love seeing other designer’s processes for creating logos! Great stuff James. I was curious what your logo might look like if the “petals” were a combination of the two colours they’re sandwiched between:, I like your current version more, 12 colours in one logo is too much.

    David from Helvetic Brands is one of my favorite designers, his grooveshark logo case-study is a great read:

    Hey Dave, I like your logo but there’s one small thing that I would fix. The anti-aliasing on the typeface you chose for “DESIGN” is a bit fuzzy (most evident on the “E”). I’d get in there with a 1px brush and try to touch it up, or choose a different typeface altogether. Maybe it’s just me though, I’m a very stringent pixel-pusher.

    I feel weird leaving feedback without anything of my own to show, my portfolio site is dead at the moment.

  18. Aaron Poisson Avatar

    I always wondered how you devised your mark sir, I also noticed that Abduzeedo went with a spetrum approach also. But recently he has changed his mark to yellow and black. Both of you guys are in my opinion designers to be admired and to learn from. Thanks much


  19. Jeff Finley Avatar

    Remember folks, blue to the left!

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