We’re suckers for a good book. And when we find a good book about our other passion—logo design—it’s pretty hard to walk away. Which is probably why so many of these books are sitting on the shelf next to our desk right now. What follows is our short list of favorite books about logo design. Some are about process, others about branding, while still others are simply packed with fun profiles of brands old and new. Check them out. Buy one if you’re intrigued. And let us know what you’d add to the list.
If I were teaching a class about the visual elements of branding, this would be the text book. It covers just about everything from the development of a logo to environmental graphics. Its very well written, filled with lots of examples of great design, definitions, before and afters, and much more. And while this book isn’t just about logo design (in fact, it’s mostly about other elements of a brand identity), it’s still the place to start if you want to learn the basics. Totally worth having on your shelf.
Written primarily for graphic designers who design logos and want to do it well, this book talks about what it takes to design an iconic brand identity from soup to nuts. It’s jammed with case studies, sketches, and more logos than I can count. Plus Airey shares the inside stories behind many of the designs shared in the book. You’ll read about logos from the best design shops in the world as well as in-house design teams. And as you learn about these iconic designs, you’ll get an idea of why one logo works better than another as well as more than 30 practical design tips for creating a logo with a long and happy life.
This book isn’t about how to design a logo. Rather it profiles the life histories of 100 logos you’ll easily recognize—from 3M and Barbie to Xerox and the YMCA. It includes old advertisements, packaging, and timelines that show the development and changes of corporate logos over time. You’ll no doubt be surprised by the look of some early logos (McDonald’s is so different it’s hard to believe) as well as the stories behind the development of others (like MTV’s logo which may be the first logo meant to be dynamic and changeable depending on where you see it. This is a fun book anyone involved in the world of advertising or design will enjoy browsing.
Another fun book, much like Logo Life, this book profiles the logos of companies that are dead (or companies that no longer use these particular designs). Here you’ll find obituaries for the iconic designs once used by P&G (the moon and stars), Enron (tilted E), Kodak (the box K), and BP (the shield), among dozens of others. Some of these designs are so good, it’s hard to see why they’re no longer used, while others were killed off when their brands became toxic, or when the company was bought or went out of business. Another fun book to keep on your shelf and browse when you need a bit of great logo inspiration.
This book is less about inspiration and more about the process different designers use to create brand icons. It includes twenty-four case studies that follow the development of great logo designs, showing the process from earliest sketches to final design. And while we consider symbols and icons a kind of logo, this book treats them as if they are a separate category. Still, a good reference tool for anyone interested in how the design process works.
Bill Gardner runs the very successful website, Logo Lounge, where thousands of designers have posted their work. Every year or so, he collects the best of the hundreds of thousands of design ideas for a book, the latest of which is volume 8, published this year. There’s no explanation of the process, what the client asked for, or how the designer works, just thousands of logo designs for your inspiration. If you have all eight volumes, then check out The Big Book of Logos, a five volume set that is similar, though in our opinion, not quite as good.
We’re a little partial to this last book because, well, we wrote it. But if you’re new to the idea of creating a logo, check this one out. It covers the process you should go through before you even pick up a pencil—thinking about how you want to position your brand or company, what kind of icons you should consider, and what your logo means. If you are working with a designer you can skip the last couple of chapters which talk about how to use the Logomaker application to create your own logo. The first part of the book is where the real value is. Check it out.
Did we leave your favorite book off the list? Let us know what books about logo design you would add, in the comments.