Logo Lessons

CSF logo optionsWhen designing a logo, we keep several things in mind:
1. Keep it simple.
2. Make it reflect the organization.
3. Keep it fresh.
4. Give the client options.
5. Be at peace if the client does not pick your favorite option.

As wonderful as our clients are, they may not always pick our favorite design. That’s why we need to be sure that everything we present will make them—and us—proud. We presented four different logo concepts for the Center for the Study of Federalism, an organization dedicated to advancing understanding of the principles of federalism. Option one (our favorite) shows a circle of books (study) forming a star (federalism) in the negative space. Option 2 pulls the book shapes away from the center to de-emphasize the star shape. Even though the client chose our least favorite option, we are at peace since either version says something meaningful about the organization.

The handwriting on the wall…

Brush script calligraphy on book covers is having quite a surge of popularity these days. I’m not sure where the trend started, but I now imagine book cover designers being held captive until they agree to pick up the brush tool and swirl out letterforms. The irony is that all those handwritten covers are trying to project attributes like “unique,” “quirky,” and  “personal.”

Although design conformity can feel delightfully comfortable, you give up the opportunity to carve out your own distinctive brand position. Looking like our competitors will also be a major stumbling block if we hope to attract new prospects.

Baltimore Murals: A beautiful way to brand neighborhoods

Do neighborhoods have brands? Of course they do. And, thanks to area businesses and community associations, many neighborhoods in Baltimore have murals that represent their brands.

Baltimore’s neighborhood murals never fail to grab my attention. Each mural is different; one focuses on a historical event, one celebrates a cityscape, while another makes an economic or social point. Who creates these murals, who funds them, to what extent is each neighborhood involved?

I learned that over 250 murals have been produced in Baltimore City as a result of the Baltimore Mural Program. The process begins when a Baltimore resident wants to host a mural that displays an idea specific to his or her neighborhood. Once the community association approves the painting, a location is picked and approved by the property owner. Although the Baltimore Mural Program does not have state or city funding, most funding comes from local Baltimore businesses or fundraising within the community. The mural program coordinator works with the community members to select a topic and artist for the painting. Once completed, there is a party to celebrate the artist and artwork. See more here.

Baltimore Murals are more than paintings on a wall; they brand an area of people with a name, symbol, or design that identifies and differentiates one neighborhood. It’s a great way to show community pride to everyone who passes by. -Contributed by GCF intern Cat Lee

Brand or Bland?

If you can watch this video without wincing in recognition at least once, you don’t work in communications. Sure, we all work hard to make brilliant, powerful, enduring work. But there are times when we are forced to compromise. Perhaps there are budget restrictions, or impossible deadlines, or bosses who won’t listen to reason. Reality happens. But seeing this video reminded me how important it is to stay focused on fresh ideas. It’s the only real tool we have to get the attention of our audience. After all, safe marketing is as meaningless as it is ineffective.

Separated at birth?


I was browsing in a bookstore recently and was struck by the similarities between these two covers. Jobs and Lennon look like twins or at the very least they go to the same hair stylist. The black and white portraits on a white background add to the uncanny resemblance. Perhaps Jobs is subconsciously emulating one of the people who inspired his own creativity. According to biographer, Walter Isaacson, Jobs was fascinated with Lennon’s dogged reworking of a chord in “Strawberry Fields,” asking the band to revise and revise until the sound was perfected. Sounds like strawberries to apples to me.

White space

Photographer Jonathan Bjorklund took his camera and singular vision to the Arctic to record a place most of us will never see in person. These spectacular photos showed me that the Arctic is a more colorful place than I had imagined. Take a break from the clutter in the office and follow the link to the complete photo set.