On a recent episode of 99% Invisible, Michael Bierut, the designer of Hillary Clinton’s campaign logo gave an interview about the art and science of logo design. It brought me back to the graphic design class I took in college. It was 1995, the Counting Crows were in heavy rotation on my dorm room CD player, and my university program had just switched over to digital design. The previous semester’s class used X-ACTO knives and mounting boards. We used a software application called QuarkXPress. It had an incredibly useful feature called “swap to grid” which is now ubiquitous, but at the time it sort of blew my mind.
Each student designed a logo, some advertisements, and a brochure for a real or fictional enterprise. I invented Donuts Delivered—prescient of the donut craze that would occur a decade later—and designed a logo that earned me an A. I wish I still had a copy so that I could share it with you and make you laugh.
Looking back at that assignment, it’s clear that not only have the tools of the trade changed, but also the criteria for good logos. My homework was judged on whether it rendered well in black and white, whether it worked at a variety of sizes business card to billboard, and whether it was proportional according to the golden ratio. Those are still considerations, but there are new ones too. Today, we might look for a logo that works as a square social media Avatar or one that can be recolored pink or with a rainbow effect. Do the logo colors look good on a variety of digital devices, as well as in print?
My logo design career pretty much started and ended with Donuts Delivered. But throughout my career I’ve encountered situations where a bit of practical knowledge about layout, color choice, white space, and image selection came in handy. Almost anyone working at a nonprofit can benefit from a basic understanding of design principles and tools. With that in mind, Idealware created a brand new course called The Accidental Designer: How to Design Images Like a Pro. It just ended this week, but we’ve seen so much demand that we’re releasing the recording for a limited time at half the original price.
The course probably won’t get you to the point where you can design your own logo, but it will help you design better DIY flyers and slide presentations, and it should help you work more efficiently with a designer by teaching you some of their language. Check it out here.