Posts Categorized: Design
Rob Marsh
Filed under Design, Logos, Satire.

That New Logo Design Is Not What You Think It Is

Note: This post includes a couple of references to scatological terms that have been a part of the news surrounding two logo redesigns this summer. If you find that kind of reference offensive, please skip to the next post.

Looking for a little criticism of your marketing team? Then you should launch a new logo design.

Remember The Gap?

In 2010, The Gap introduced a brand new logo to represent the brand. The new logo was basically a blue box, and was roundly criticized for being lousy by the brand’s critics and fans alike.

And it took less than a week for the Gap to reverse it’s decision and announce they would be sticking with the old logo. It was a disaster.

Since then it’s as if the logo critics smell blood in the water.

Virtually every company that has updated its logo in the past couple of years has come under some kind of criticism for the effort. Sometimes it’s deserved. Sometime, it’s not.

But two recent logo updates have met with a new kind of criticism. Not just an “I don’t like it.” or an “It’s not an improvement over the last logo design.”

The new criticism is scatological.

As in (and we’re sorry if this offends anyone), “The new logo is a pile of poop.”

Only the thing is, it isn’t.

The logo that supposedly looks like poop? Here it is:

New Hershey Logo Design

If you are anything like 99% of the people who see this logo, you probably recognize the Hershey’s Kiss.

But a few people (who apparently haven’t grown out of fifth grade) think that the Kiss is something less chocolatey. And once they started posting their comparisons on Twitter everyone jumped on the bandwagon.

For the vast majority of people—it would never cross their mind that the Kiss is anything other than chocolate. Collectively the brand’s fans have eaten millions of them. The Kiss embodies all kinds of positive emotional value. Better still, it’s simple, easily recognizable, and loved. That adds up to a great logo.

But it could have been worse.

Earlier this summer, AirBNB unveiled a nice new icon and logotype with a lot of fanfare:

New AirBNB Logo Design

And then the critics went to work, (and again, we are sorry for this), “The new logo is a vagina.”

Don’t these guys have something better to do with their time?

The new AirBNB logo doesn’t enjoy the same kind of brand awareness that the Hershey’s Kiss has. So fans of the AIRBNB brand won’t have the same emotional connection to the new icon as Hershey fans might have to theirs.

But very few people will see this icon and think, “Vagina.” In fact, our guess is that the only people who would think something like that probably haven’t actually seen one. (Note: Google it and compare. Actually don’t do that. Trust us.)

This is the kind of thing that usually results in some pretty funny parody.

Satire isn’t supposed to match reality that closely.

The firm (Design Studio) that designed this new logo said that part of the thinking in the new design was to “design a marque anyone could draw—something that transcended language and formed the foundation of a new brand.”

And the company’s management said they wanted a symbol that customers could draw. Something that without a previous meaning that would come to represent the experiences their customers would have with the brand.

And that is exactly what they got. It’s a good logo.

They’re both good logos. Better than average.

Maybe its time to take a step back and give a little more thought before we criticize the next new logo design.


Rob Marsh
Filed under Design.

How to Find a Great Logo Designer.

Last week we wrote about how to work with a logo designer to get the very best from them. If you read that, you might be asking, but how do I find a great graphic designer in the first place?

A quick search on Google for “graphic designer” or “logo design” doesn’t necessarily bring up a lot of exciting options. Instead, you’ll find a host of design contest sites, and logo companies that look like fronts for teams of inexperienced, overseas designers. There are some gems in there, but they might not be obvious at first glance.

So here’s our advice on how you can find a great logo designer.

Before we tell you where to look, keep these three things in mind…

First, know what you need.
Before you go looking for a designer, you need to know what exactly you are looking for. Do you need a simple logo design or a logo along with a website, business cards, or other materials? Be prepared to tell your designer exactly what you want and how you will be using your design. It also helps if you can share a brief description of your business and customers. This sets the direction for your project right up front.

Second, know your budget.
These days there are options for getting a logo designed for any budget, from as little as a few dollars to as much as tens of thousands of dollars. Some options are definitely better than others. How much money you have available to spend will help you determine which designers you should be contacting.

If you’re looking for a custom logo, designed just for you, plan on spending at least $300. For that price, there are plenty of designers who will give you a few ideas for your logo design. If you need more options, or something more than a simple logo, or want to work with a more experienced designer, plan on spending a bit more.

Note: Don’t have that kind of budget? We understand. We’ve talked with experts who say that more than 20% of all new businesses have less than $500 to spend on marketing for an entire year. With so little to spend, these entrepreneurs simply can’t afford to blow it all on a logo. If you are in this category, skip looking for a designer and try one of the do-it-yourself logo design apps found online (our favorite is This recommendation is only for those with a very limited budget. Everyone else will get better results from working closely with an actual designer.

So how much should you plan on spending? It’s hard to say that a logo should cost exactly X dollars, because the price depends on so many different variables. (For example, it takes more time and effort to provide addition concepts and revisions.) But you can find thousands of good designers who will work for $30-150 an hour. The more experience or education your designer has, the more you can expect to pay. Often this extra expense buys experience that is worth every penny. If you are uncomfortable with an open-ended budget for your project, talk with your designer and ask them to quote you a project rate—what you will pay for a finished logo design. Most designers will charge you somewhere in the $300-$1500 range for a completed logo. Remember, you generally get what you pay for.

Third, don’t use a design contest site for your logo.
We know it’s tempting. The prices are low and they offer lots of options. But the risks are simply too high. Plagiarized artwork sold as original. Inexperienced designers throwing out logos created without any thought about your business or customers. If you really want an original logo for your product or company, your best option is working directly with a real logo designer.

So having said all that, how do you find a great logo designer?


Ask for Logo Designer Recommendatinos

#1. Ask for Recommendations.
This is really the best place to start… Ask someone you know who has a logo that you like, where did they get it? In fact, ask more than one person. But don’t just ask them for their designer’s contact information, ask them about the entire experience. What were they looking for when they hired the designer? How long did the process take? How good was the designer at communicating throughout the project? What did they do to learn more about your business? How many concepts did they present? What was the revision process like? And of course, how much did the logo cost? The more people you ask, the better feel you’ll get for what it takes to work with a great logo designer.

However, be careful when you ask friends or family for a recommendation. You’re likely to hear something along the lines of, “My sister’s friend is a logo designer. She’s looking for work.” While she may be a good designer, be sure not to rush into hiring her. Check out her background, her design style, and experience (see more below). Your logo design project is not a favor for a friend—it is an important step to your business success. Don’t hire someone just because you know her (or know someone who knows her).


Find Logo Designers with Search Engines

#2. Search Online.
Don’t know anyone who has been through the logo design process before? No problem, that’s what the search engines are for, right? Go ahead and search Google (or Bing or DuckDuckGo or your favorite search engine) for terms like “logo design,” “professional logo designer,” or “I need a logo.” What you’ll likely find is a bunch of companies that have more in common with sweat shops than design boutiques. Most are simply fronts for inexperienced designers offering logos at an unbelievably low price. So what to do?

Go deeper. Look past the “I’ll design your logo for $15” offers. Beyond the “unlimited revisions, guaranteed” packages. This will take a bit of effort, but don’t rush it. Remember you’re looking for a great logo designer to work with. Sadly, the best logo designers aren’t found on page one or even page two of the search engine results.

Keep in mind that a low ranking on Google or any other search engine isn’t a reflection of the quality of the designer. You may not start finding logo designers who meet your requirements until page 3 or page 7 or even deeper. Keep going…


Where Logo Designers Hang Out

#3. Skip Google and Search Where Logo Designers Hang Out.
You may not find great designer on the first few pages of Google, but that doesn’t mean the best logo designers aren’t online. You just need to know where to look.

There are several places built specifically to help designers showcase their work. is one of them. Check out the logo samples featured on the home page. See any you like? Click them to read more about the designer who created them. Or check out the featured designers a little lower on the page. Or take a deeper look by searching through our design profiles by clicking the Find a Designer link at the top of the page. When you find a designer you like, click through to their personal website for more information on how to contact them.

Of course, isn’t the only place to look (and because we’re so new, we don’t yet have the critical mass that some other sites have). You can also look for designers at Behance, Flickr, and Dribble. Searching for “logo design” on Pinterest may be another good option.

Skipping the search engines and going directly the places where designers post their work for other designers to see is a great way to find a designer who’s work you admire.


Look at Logo Design Portfolios

#4. Look at Portfolios. Lots of Portfolios.
The key to finding a great designer is looking at their work. And that means taking time to look through as many portfolios as possible. Make notes of the designers who’s work you admire most. Also notice the design styles that most appeal to you (or more importantly, will appeal to your customers). If you find a designer who has several logos that you admire, reach out to them about possibly working on your project.

What you’re looking for is a talented designer with several designs that make you think “Wow, I’d love a logo like that for my business.” If you go through several pages of their portfolio without seeing something that you love, pass and move on to the next designer.

If the designers you admire are out of your budget or not available for your project, make a note of the work that you like. You can show it to the designer you end up working with as an example of what you are looking for—which will help them determine which ideas to explore first as they work on your project.

We mentioned the best logo design portfolio sites in Step #3, but just in case you’re skimming, we recommend (obviously), Behance, Flickr, and Dribble.


Logo Designers Similar to Your Needs

#5. Make Sure the Designer has Done Similar Work to Your Project.
Once you find a designer that you like, make sure they’ve done projects (type and scope) like yours. You may like the work of a designer who is fresh out of school and is willing to work within your budget. Great! But make sure they have done this kind of work before. It’s one thing to design a logo, quite another to design an entire identity package. If you need a dynamic website, make sure they’ve got some website development experience first. The same is true for brochures or package design. These different projects required somewhat different knowledge and skills. Make sure the designer you choose has done the kind of work you need.


Visit  Logo Designers Site

#6. Visit Their Website.
Once you’ve chosen a designer you like (but before you contact them), check out their website—not just their portfolio but everything else too. Read their blog and check out their Twitter and Facebook feeds. Are they proud of the work they create? Do they praise previous clients? Do they praise other designers? Do they talk about the fonts they love or other logos they wish they had created? Do they write about (and obviously love) logo design? If so, chances are you will have a good experience working with this designer.

On the other hand, do they complain about their clients? Do they make fun of design work they didn’t create? Are they rude or inappropriate? These are signs that this is a designer you might not want to work with.


Check Your Logo Designer's References

#7. Check Your Designer’s References.
This advice is particularly important if you find your designer online (rather than through a referral from a friend). Before you hire your designer, ask them for the phone numbers or email addresses of several of their previous clients. Then contact these clients and ask about working with the designer. What was the process like? How are their communication skills? What was the revision process like? And so on.

Don’t be surprised when the references are all positive. No designer is going to willingly connect you with a client who had a bad experience. The key question to ask is “Did the designer deliver what they promised on time and in budget?” And if you hear over-the-top praise, consider that a good sign.

If you are working with a designer you do not know—do not skip this step.


Avoid Designers Who Use Bad Grammar

#8. Avoid Designers Who Use Incorrect Grammar.
We’ve seen more than one design web site that claims to be based in Wyoming or Nevada (at least that’s what the contact us page says), but things just don’t feel right. There are just too many misspelled words, or the syntax of the sentences doesn’t sound quite right. Before working with this designer, contact them directly. Ask to speak with them on the phone. If that’s not possible (another red flag) ask them several pointed questions in an email. If the response comes back with more syntax and spelling errors, you may be working with someone using translating software to create their website or email responses.

While there is nothing wrong with choosing a designer from outside your home country (and it may be a good way to save a little money), be aware that designers from other cultures may not have the experience to create a design that will appeal to your customers. They may not be aware of color differences and design conventions. Be sure you know what you are getting into before you make this choice.



#9. Find a Designer You “Click” With.
After searching through all those design portfolios, and reaching out to a few of the designers you admire most, the real decision should come when you find a designer with whom you just click. Things feel right. They’ve done work similar to yours. You like their design style. They seem to understand what you are looking for and what you want your logo to do.

Once you find someone you really click with, hire them, (then read this about how to work with a graphic designer). A good working relationship with your designer will help you get a great logo.

Whatever you do, don’t rush your search for a great designer. If you take your time to do the search right, what you’ll end up with is a designer who will help your business grow. You might only need a logo today, but they’ll be there when you need a brochure, a website, or a presentation design.

Getting this right will pay dividends for years to come.

Great logo designers are everywhere, if you know where to look.



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Rob Marsh
Filed under Design, Logo Design 101.

Your Logo Design Should Tell A Story

One of the most important purposes of a logo is to communicate a particular message or story with customers.

That’s a lot of work for a single image and a word or two, but the very best logo designs tell a story.

Sometimes the logo’s story is obvious. Like the “jump man” logo used by Nike for the Air Jordan brand. This logo is silhouette of Michael Jordan flying through the air with a ball in his hand, on his way to a thundering dunk:


Air Jordan Logo Design


The Air Jordan logo’s story is obvious: the products marked with this logo design help people accomplish amazing athletic feats. This icon is so good at telling its story, that you don’t even need to see the words “Nike” or “Air Jordan” to get the message, or to recognize the brand.

Another, more subtle example is the Amazon logo. At first, the logo appears simply to be a word mark with an underline icon underneath the first part of the word. But it tells a great story.


Amazon Logo Design


Notice that the underline is an arrow that goes from A to Z. This isn’t an accident. Amazon wants to communicate that the place to find everything from A to Z online is Great story. But it gets better. The underline is also a smile—which presumably represents how you feel when you use Amazon to find what you’re looking for. All that from the company name and a simple underline.

Let’s take a look at an example from Jerron Ames, a portfolio member. He created the Chart Monster logo, which tells an easy to recognize story. The icon is obviously a Loch Ness-type monster. But notice the way the monster creates a bar chart, moving up and to the right, showing positive growth. It’s a fantastic example of an icon that quickly demonstrates the product’s story.

ChartMonster Logo Design


One last example to reinforce the point—the logo design for Le Tour de France. Cycling fans will readily recognize the logo featuring the name of the world’s biggest bicycle race and a blotch of yellow (yellow is the color most closely associated with the race). Notice how the yellow ball is also the front wheel of a bicycle, and the R becomes the rider of a bike made by the O and U in the logo. Anyone who sees this logo immediately knows that the Tour de France has something to do with cycling.


Tour de Fance Logo Design


A logo that tells a compelling story will help your company or brand stand out from the competition in your marketplace.

Need help finding a designer who can create this kind of logo for you? Check out our directory of awesome designers, then reach out to the one who’s work you admire most.

Do you have a logo that tells a great story? Have you designed one or seen one? Tell us about it in the comments.

And if you think this whole idea is a load of bollocks, check out this post: Your Logo Shouldn’t Tell a Story.



Designer, My Profile

The 7 Biggest Logo Events in 2013

This year has seen a lot of big happenings in the logo design field. Yes, it’s been a crazy year, with no shortage of topics to buzz about. The best way to sum it up is that the year was simultaneously amazing and disappointing. We saw a lot of great design happen, and there were glimpses of a world starting to recognize the value of great logo branding. But we also saw companies unveil logos that look like a committee created it, and got frustrated during the revision process, ultimately finalizing on ineffective, unattractive design.

1. Google Freshens Up


One trend we saw a lot of was simplification. Many companies realized that a good way to refresh their image was to remove the gradients, drop shadows and other unnecessary elements from their logo.

Google cut the fat out, and came out with a simple, clean look for their logo and application bar. Experienced designers cheered, and the Bevel/Emboss function took Drop Shadow’s hand and slunk into a hidden background layer.


They obviously learned from the positive response to last year’s Chrome upgrade. The logo looks so much better with fewer gradients and effects.

google old

What a refreshing change from their earlier logo! Business world, take heed!





2. Appalachian State Forgets What A Logo Is


Sluggishly waking from their post-turkey stupor, App State revealed its new logo the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s the new logo on the bottom. It took many people a while to realize they weren’t kidding, because just look at it. He is named “Victory Yosef”.


With a straight face, Mountaineers director of athletics Charlie Cobb announced “The excitement that Victory Yosef has generated among our students, alumni and fans since we introduced it as a throwback logo last fall has been overwhelming. Due to its popularity, it only made sense to make Victory Yosef a permanent part of our branding. We hope that it endures as a recognizable mark of Appalachian athletics for years to come.”

The former logo, a beautiful, iconic mountain man, had been used for 14 years. It’s style is fairly common, but it communicates quickly the idea with interesting shading and highlights. Now the athletes get to wear a child’s drawing of Popeye Abe Lincoln on their helmets.


3. Yahoo Insults The Entire Graphic Design Industry

yahoo copy

Too many people think graphic design is not a specialized profession, but something anyone can do, because the tools to make decent-looking Web pages, fliers, business cards, etc. are readily available. But is design the act of putting something on a page?

After months of teases and false alarms, Yahoo! finally unveiled the overworked and distorted nightmare that is their new logo. Were we taught in school not to distort a beautiful typeface like Optima, because a lot of thought was put into its’ architecture? Yes.

Does the CEO, Marissa Mayer, think that anyone can do design? Yes, and that’s a common misconception that we urgently need to fight. According to her blog, she “rolled up her sleeves, and dove into the trenches with (her) logo design team” and spent the “majority of Saturday and Sunday” designing the logo “from start to finish”. There’s so many things wrong with this post, it brings tears to my eyes.

This debacle represents the worst aspects of someone who doesn’t understand or accept that typography and graphic design in general are professions that benefit from years or decades of training. She shows a love for design, while implying that she is equally qualified to participate in it without mastering the process. Which annoyed a lot of professionals that have.

4. Philips Re-Invents The Logo Reveal

phillsreveal philstweet

The marketing team at Philips really know the value of the slow reveal; it created a teaser social media campaign that allowed anyone to “claim” any of the 50,000 pixels in an image of the new logo by signing in with Facebook or Twitter and specific hashtag.

In this way, the shape and colors of the new identity were gradually revealed. On November 13, they officially launched their brand after engaging thousands of people and making sure their logo was talked about in all the right circles.




The reworked enclosure-style logo is cleaner, and works better at small sizes. It’s formerly thin lines are now stronger and the top is subtly rounded and friendlier. Even a novice can appreciate it’s clean lines and easy readability.










5. The National Reconnaissance Office Goes With The Octopus


Should the agency that operates America’s spy satellites be a little more subtle? Especially in this age of concern of individual privacy and paranoia?  “Nothing is beyond our reach.” Ha!

After unleashing this terrifying logo for one of their spy satellites, a spokewoman explained: “NROL-39 is represented by the octopus, a versatile, adaptable, and highly intelligent creature. Emblematically, enemies of the United States can be reached no matter where they choose to hide.”

OK, great that we’re striking fear in the hearts of our nation’s enemies, but it also gives us a little glimpse into the agency’s mindset, that apparently is that they can strangle, devour or make little octopus babies with every soul on earth.




6. Farmers Strips Down


How many discussions have we had with clients about the concept of “less is more”? Keep this image somewhere safe, so you can quickly illustrate your point.

They lost the tagline and found new respect in the design world by letting the text breathe while still retaining it’s essence; a sunrise and shield.

“The new logo captures our belief that by helping customers make more informed insurance decisions, we can provide them with greater knowledge, confidence and security,” says Mike Linton, farmers’ chief marketing officer. “The new logo is part of the Farmers transformation to an organization that not only serves our customers better, but also helps empower them.”

Yes, it gained an ink color. The logo makes up for that in white space and simplicity. Well done, Lippincott design agency, and well done, Farmers.



7. Miami Dolphins Now Swimming Without Head Protection


Much like Stephen Colbert’s painting of himself in front of a painting of himself, the original logo for the Miami Football helmets featured a dolphin who himself wears a helmet. Whenever I saw it, I wished it had a smaller dolphin on the dolphin’s helmet.

For the first time in 4 logo versions, the dolphin’s head was let loose, allowing the dolphin to swim naturally and show off its artistic curves.  Instead of making the dolphin jumping out of the water, the animal is in a “more powerful and ascending position”, according to Claudia Lezcano, the Dolphins’ chief marketing officer. She stated. “We wanted to have a look toward the future but be anchored in our iconic past.”

When you look back on 2013, what stands out in your mind? Did you create something that makes you burst with pride? Did any of your design views change? Hopefully 2014 will be a year of growth and development for all of us.

Why should a dentist get a logo?

Looking into my seven year olds mouth I see countless reasons why it was not a good idea to skip the yearly dentist appointment, or why it was very bad to rush the child to bed—as he finishes his last bite of ice cream.  (Brushing the teeth would have been another excruciating step.)

The scary reality is now I have to find a dentist that not only can save me and my son from this shame and his cavity-infected mouth BUT ALSO is someone I can trust.  It doesn’t sound too difficult.

But in American Fork, Utah there are over one hundred dentists all screaming out to me saying, “I’ll solve all your dental problems!”   So I set out on this journey in a sea of “qualified” dentists.

Where do I start?  Google Maps.  I type in American Fork Dentists.  Fifteen pop up.  I place my curser over their name and there is nothing that sets them apart but their last name.

Except for…. Wait a minute!? What do my eyes behold?? Color…. design…. could that be a LOGO? It’s a simple one really but one that catches my eye probably because the rest of dentists listed did not have one. It beckons me to click on it.

Click! I am on his home page…I see his family, his office and practice. In my mind I say with relief, “He is the one”. Why? Well, to most potential customers, and me, if he cared enough about his business to create a logo then he must care enough about my kid’s teeth. The other dentists, if they have a logo, didn’t take the time to use it properly, and incorporate it into Google Maps. This dentist, paid for a professionally designed logo and implemented it into Google Maps.

It may sound silly, but it’s true, if you are one fish in the very big sea of your profession you have to ask yourself a few questions:

1. What sets your business apart from the rest?
2. What will attract the most attention immediately?
3. What will cause a call to action?