Logo Design is Fun

By: Gil Pinheiro

A small piece of design work that punches far above its weight class. Like with most aspects of design, there are trends that sweep through the industry like wildfire, but there is always a desire to do something out of the ordinary to stand out. You can approach logo design from any number of perspectives - I'm not writing to tell you how to approach the topic, but to document and share how we did it. I'm also not afraid to talk about influences. It is impossible to design anything without pulling from your antecedents, and I see no reason to avoid talking about them.

In the modern era, logos are the brand made visual. Our name is simple and strong. Push. Rate. There is a sort of motion built into the name.

I knew that I wanted to include the name in the logo. Letterform is consequently the focus. My first step was to take the name and write it out in a variety of styles and fonts to get a sense of the design parameters. Google fonts is your friend here.

Conveniently there are a bunch of really interesting qualities to the letters. My favourite was that fixed width fonts work naturally. Without having any letters like 'i', or 'l', each of the characters can have a consistent width without feeling either sparse or crowded.

A common element is to integrate important symbolism by taking advantage of the typography. You've probably seen the arrow in the a fed-ex logo. In our case, I felt that the button-press interaction was our primary target for inclusion. Noticing that the "U" and "A" could be interpreted as a fingertip, I experimented with different approaches to highlighting that interaction.

I tried a couple of different approaches, but they each felt like they added more questions - it isn't obvious what they intend to show. I liked the strong font, and the outline but something was missing.

A critical shift occurred when I threw out the pre-existing fonts. Tweaking the letterforms had become annoying. I needed to develop a consistent design that took advantage of the fixed-widths to create a balanced logo. I've always been a fan of Dieter Ram's designs, and taking my cue from his design of the Braun logo, I decomposed the text into a few simple geometric shapes on a rigid grid.

We batted the design around for a few days, refining letter form (especially the "R" which I'm not totally happy with even now), and building variants for different use cases to ensure flexibility. As I was masking the logo out, I happened to use red as a temporary color and found that I really liked it. The heavier logo needed to be bright. Without any fine details, or any other need for subtle shading, it really felt appropriate to use a simple pure color. This has had knock-on effects - our site has a simple palette that favors simple bright colors.

As is typical with design, after having lived with it for awhile, I can now see other influences. My favourite, by far, is the NASA 'worm'. I'm very happy with that comparison. That particular logo is wonderful, and I'm glad to have taken even subliminal inspiration.

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