Some companies are lucky by having the right mix of letters in their actual name. Of the 26 letters in the English alphabet, some letters are blessed with good genes that make them visually balanced and interesting. Other letters are awkward and less fortunate. Who’s ready to nerd-out with me?
These letterforms are balanced. They are likable and interesting. They are confident enough to stand on their own.
I was thrilled to have “S” as the leading character in “Smith House” because I knew that my logomark would be easier to design.
(Honorable mentions in this group are the “K” and “R”.)
These letterforms are blessed with a single axis of symmetry. If you have a sequence of letters with a horizontal axis, things look good: EDGE. Letters with a vertical axis make the perfect “middle letter” in a 3- and 5- letter name. (e.g. OBAMA and TRUMP.)
These four letterforms have symmetry across both the vertical and horizontal axes. A company name with any of these letters should feel so stoked.
These four letters are off-balance, which often means they don’t look confident by themselves. Also, they rarely look good next to other letters.
I’ve designed enough logos/branding systems to know pretty quickly if a new client is going to have a handsome wordmark (the company name), or if we are going to have to create a flawless logomark to distract people.
From last weeks blog:
- The logomark is your cool graphic or symbol.
- The wordmark is the name of your company, with stylized letters that make it unique. (FYI, some people call this a typemark.)
When designing the brand for Smith House, I knew that the “S” was a blessing, and everything had to be built around that letterform.
- I went with all capital letters kept things tidy
- The hidden square dot on the “i” in SMTH would be repeated the [S] logomark.
What about lowercase?
Lower case letters are often more friendly and playful. Think of them as cheerful little fellas with big smiles. Seriously, how adorable are these two vowels: a – e
So if you ever have a company that needs a friendlier vibe, a designer should choose a typeface that has lovable lowers.
Let’s look at an example: facebook. The designers at Cuban Council opted for a modified version of all-lower when the social network with a weird/creepy name hired them to make a logo. It’s a random story, but a baby Mark Zuckerberg just walked into their San Francisco office way back before anyone was a billionaire. (Read story here.)
Now let’s go deeper on good genetics here. “b” and “k” have similar ascenders, that is the upright section of the letter above the beltline. And in between, you have two lovable vowels: o – o. book is a pretty word. The most difficult part of this logo was pairing the “f” and “a”, which you can see has a playful interaction.
Now let’s move on to the next example.
I’m not familiar with vivint as a company, but I love basketball and I see their logo on the side of the Utah Jazz’s arena in Salt Lake.
- Notice here the beautiful sequence of v-i-v-i. It looks graphical and cool and friendly.
- More about the “i” that makes it so endearing is that it looks like a little person.
- Note that they repeat the dots on top of the “i” with the period. This is a convenient pivot-point when they add a couple words to help people understand what they do.
- Props to the designer for narrowing the width “t” so that it had the same visual mass of the “i” earlier in the wordmark.
It’s possible to have a cool company with a weird name, and it’s also possible to have a cool company logo built on a sequence of weird letters. Hire the right designer and you’ll be able to navigate those challenges. Just be careful when you get jealous of some other company’s logo. They may look cool just without having nearly as much work.