Logo Builds

Context

Leslie Carbarga (emphasis mine):

LOGO: A specific design with unique characteristics made as a corporate “signature.” …A logo can be a nameplate or a monogram, eblem, symbol or signet. The wealthier the corporation, it seems, the simple the logo. A logo should be:

  1. Intelligible: Never confuse a potential customer.
  2. Unique: Make it different from other logos, avoid trendiness.
  3. Compelling: The design should provoke futher investigation. It should “Say the commonplace in an uncommon way” (Paul Rand).

— Logo Font & Lettering Bible, p12

Leslie Carbarga:

ICON: Traditionally, a sacred picture or an important and enduring symbol. Today’s icons are those tiny, hard-to-see pictograms on our desktops and programs that require computer manuals to decipher. Well-done, intuitive icons serve important navigational functions, like the male/female icons on lavatory doors. At best they are everything a logo should be, but even more compact.

— Logo Font & Lettering Bible, Leslie Carbarga, p13

The average American sees 16,000 advertisements, logos, and labels in a single day. [1]

David Airey:

  • Keep it simple. The simplest solution is often the most effective. Why? Because a simple logo helps meet most of the other requirements of iconic design.

  • Make it relevant. Any logo you design must be appropriate for the business it identifies. For example, as much as you might want to use a fun design that makes everyone smile, this approach is not ideal for businesses like the local crematorium.

  • Incorporate tradition. Trends come and go like the wind. With brand identity, the last thing you want is to invest a significant amount of your time and your client’s money in a design direction that looks dated almost overnight.

  • Aim for distinction. Begin by focusing on a design that is recognizable. So recognizable, in fact, that just its shape or outline gives it away.

  • Commit to memory. Quite often, one quick glance is all the time you get to make an impression. You want your viewers’ experience to be such that your logo is remembered the instant they see it the next time.

  • Think small. Your design should ideally work at a minimum of around one inch in size without loss of detail so that it can be put to use for many different applications.

  • Focus on one thing. Incorporate just one feature to help your designs stand out. That’s it. Just one. Not two, three, or four.

— Logo Design Love — A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, p38–39


Choosing Good Logos For Builds

  • Mark should include pictogram / iconography, not just letterforms
  • Should not be an icon
  • Should not be too literal
  • Needs to be interpretable and friendly to abstraction
  • Characters (humanoid, animals, etc.) are less interpretable, as they tend to suggest character animation
  • Primarily 2D in nature.
  • Simple!

Good examples:

Bad examples:

  • Most 3D logos…
    • have already been interpreted.
    • are less open to abstraction.
    • may require an actual 3D program to re-create.
    • are more difficult to seamlessly transition into.
    • tend to be rendered in a trendy style. (Griffin Records’s airbrush vs. AT&T’s logo 3D/ambient occlusion look)
  • AT&T’s spherical logo

Alexander Alexandrov’s 5 Rules in Logo Design

This video covers “rules” about the actual design of the logo itself, not just the build, but the fundamentals of how a strong logo is created are worth reviewing.

Example builds:

Understanding the brand

  • Create a list of ~30 words (preferably adjectives & adverbs) that describe what the company/product/service stands for. (Come back when you’re done.)
  • Pick 2 of those that seem the most important or interesting to you. The words should not be synonyms (e.g. “fast” and “quick”).
  • Now pick the more important of the 2. Push this concept first, as the main dish. The 2nd word becomes the seasoning.
  • Base your design on those words. Everything you design — every element you add and every keyframe you create — should reinforce those 2 words.

Creating the build

5 seconds total

  • 3-second build

  • 2-second hold or “living” hold for legibility

  • 1 black frame at the end to mimic a cut

  • Why only 5 seconds?

    The producer may include an animated logo identification that follows closing production credits. The separate animated logo’s time must be included in the time allowed for the total production credit roll [i.e. For an hour long program, the production credits may run 57-seconds with a 3-second animated logo or the roll may run :54 with :06 combined animated logos].

Avoid extraneous imagery
Do not introduce images or elements that are not directly related to or abstracted from the logo. - no bitmap imagery - start with a “blank” frame (solid color field)

Motion graphics is all about the transitions
How many ways can an element appear on screen?

  • Cut (try to avoid)

  • Fade (try to avoid)

  • Wipe (depends)

  • Position
    x, y or z (see scale)

  • Scale
    Up from nothing or down from enormous/full-screen. A z-axis position change is preferable since it more consistently handles the perceived exponential growth of an object as it approaches the viewer/camera.

  • Draw on

  • Reveal through other elements/shapes

  • Morph/grow through mask shape changes

  • Etc…

No tag lines or slogans
Do not “accidentally” create a commercial. Your build should not be a story, but it can have a theme. Presumably your logo build may end a commercial that did contain a story. Your job is to support the brand and summarize the theme, not create a new one.

Grading Criteria

Design (05 pts)

  • Overall visual appeal
  • Visual abstraction of the logo
    Is it obvious? Is it interesting?
  • Economy of design
    Is the design cluttered or clean?
  • Composition over time
  • Color/Contrast

Animation, Principles of… (05 pts)

Concentrate on whichever principles are key to your project. For instance, not everyone’s logo should squash/stretch like a rubber ball.

  • Timing
  • Squash/stretch
  • Anticipation
  • Secondary action
  • Etc.

Concept (05 pts)

  • Conceptual abstraction Different from visual abstraction (under Design). How creative is the abstraction? Have you dug deep enough into the company/product’s logo to not just show the obvious?

  • Does the animation support the branding?

  • How well does it jive with your word list?

  • Can the viewer tell what kind of company/product this logo build is for?


  1. Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. with Cameron Stauth. Brain Longevity: The Breakthrough Medical Program That Improves Your Mind and Memory. (New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing, 1999).