04 January 2012

New Year, New Stuff

So here is a foray into logo design. I attend a local Improv Workshop, and I noticed show flyers and official materials looked like this:

Mike Gordon is a great cartoonist, and presents his ideas with clarity and appeal, but, as I shot my mouth off, the typeography on this flyer is a freak'n nightmare.

There's Poor choice of typefaces, and a lack of readability and negative space. Gradients and drop shadows are used indescriminately. Plus, the colors are loud and obnoxious.

After everybody agreed to let me volunteer a logo, I asked the group leader a few questions. He made it clear that the workshop was to be more of a club than a performing troupe. The performance recitals are secondary, and the first order of business of the logo is to get people to join.

So what visual devices and schemes have organizations successfully used to get people to not only support, but actively participate in their organization or club?

Both Facebook and Greenpeace use cool colors and very open, balanced type to immediately set up a comfortable, supportive mood. White or white space is used, probably to make things feel airy and open. Also, Greenpeace uses almost every "good" symbol one can do in sillouette, people holding hands, plush-ready animals, a standard-issue tree of hope, and as a bonus, the curvature of the globe, showing that the group's goals are a worldwide effort.

Blizzard's "World of Warcraft" does get a lot of "joiners" in the form of paying subscribers, but the imagery in the WOW logo didn't seem like the right social atmosphere for an Improv Club.

Second, I looked at the typefaces for well-known professional Improv Venues or troupes, to see if there's some ready-made symbols or typefaces already synonymous with stage Improv.

Okay, there isn't. Second City's brush script emphasises the spontaneity of Improv. Upright Citizen's Brigade's "Stencil" look appeals to the 'underground' feeling of the troupe's branding. The U.S. version of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" uses an art decco look, which in my mind, emphasizes the theatrical experience due to connotations to the golden age of Broadway musicals.

Actually, my first thought for an Improv logo was a "Ransom Note" style typeface, much like the logo for the movie, Clerks.

But my first pass at a logo really stressed for the "public club" look with a built type.

The smaller text is "Creator Credits" a free font from Blambot I had in as a dummy, ideally the whole logo would be built out of the same typeface. I wanted to use perfect geometric circles as part of the font's anatomy, to evoke a sense of community through associations with the PBS "Viewer's Like You" vibe.

Okay, I kinda liked the sizing, the overall shape of the piece, but it just didn't have a feeling of whimsy. What Mike Gordon's little three guy graphic clearly put over, is that Improv is supposed to be funny.

Uh, yeah. Aside from being fairly clich├ęd, the titly text doesn't play well with the horizontal bars of text at the top or bottom. Besides, the small counters make the typeface fairly oppressive, looking.
Here's a mockup, keeping blambot's font as an element and that wacky comedic tilty text, but using scans from book jackets to make up the word "Improv". I like this clip-art look because it shows disparate elements and sources, making up a whole, which is what improv players do.

I knew when I started this, that any bitmap elements would have to be converted to vectors so that the source file could be scaled and played with, so here's the final, again.

Here I played around with spacing and font sizing for legibility. You'll also see I removed the horizontal lines from the P and the benday dots from the R, as they felt like the intense detail pulled attention from the statement as a whole. Also, I pulled the corners of the letter boxes around to give the word "Improv" a unified shape.

Honestly, I feel the bright candy colors from the bitmaps are more fun. But like I've mentioned before, this group is a club first. Ultimately, a unified, calming, stable analogous color scheme that's more "coffee shop" than "Malibu Circus" seemed to fit that purpose better.

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