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Challenge: Design a Logo That Contains Another Logo

Tue, Dec 30, 2008

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Designing a logo is challenging enough, but designing a logo that includes another logo can be an entirely different process. Here is the process one designer used to take on such a challenge.

On a sunny day in the spring of 2007 I received a phone call from my friend, Crystal. At the time, she was working in the Public Relations Department at Rumpke Consolidated Companies, Inc. in Cincinnati, OH. Rumpke has a large operation that is best known for its trash and recycling services in Cincinnati and the surrounding areas. Crystal told me that Rumpke needed a logo designed to commemorate its 75th anniversary.

For the most part the job guidelines were fairly loose. Rumpke wanted 75 years mentioned (obviously), possibly the years of operation (1932-2007) and a slogan mentioning “community.” There were also some more strict guidelines. Rumpke’s corporate colors (red and black) needed to be used as well as the corporate logotype.

I expected the corporate logotype to be a requirement for the project—after all, it is plastered all over the company’s trucks, dumpsters, and port-o-lets. It’s even strategically placed throughout an illustration of Cincinnati that is used on a jigsaw puzzle that my dad owns. That’s how well-known Rumpke is in the area!

The challenge of the project was to communicate this company’s diamond anniversary with text and/or images that complemented this bold, slab-serif, two-color, bottom-arched logotype.

My first action was to find typestyles that would match up well with the typestyle already in place. My preliminary list included Academy Engraved, Americana, Barbedor, Bell MT Italic and Bengel Black, among others. I mainly focused on how the sevens and fives of these typestyles looked placed next to each other, in that order.

I also spent some time looking that the overall shape of the Rumpke logo. From there I worked with the arched bottom of the shape where I thought an illustration of a multi-faceted diamond would fit nicely. Academy Engraved was chosen for the surrounding text because it seemed to match well with the diamond.

This first option was an okay start, but I knew I could do better. I decided to have a little fun by adding my own slogan, “Pick up trash long enough, and you’re bound to unearth a gem.”

The second option I presented featured “Seventy-Five Years” written in my own handwriting. The “Y” in “Seventy” became the bottom of the “7” while the “F” in “Five” became part of the “5.” I was pretty proud of myself for discovering this letter/number form combination even though I knew it was not very legible.

Now that I had all of my bad ideas out of the way I knew it was time to dig deeper to produce the logo I was hired to produce. I began to further examine the Rumpke logotype. After playing around with the different elements of the overall shape with minimal results I took a break.

Later, inspiration came in the form of an old Coca-Cola bottle I saw at a Coke-themed restaurant. The bottle had some kind of secondary commemorative logo printed on it. It might have also been an anniversary logo. I don’t remember. What I do remember is how that logo helped me to see the Rumpke logo in a new light.

When I returned to my studio I began to pick apart the overall shape of the Rumpke logotype—literally. I isolated the bottom curve and cut it in half then proceeded to play around with this little curved line segment.

One of the results of these curvilinear interactions was a very long diamond.

Well. I’ll be darned. If you dig around in the trash long enough you will unearth a diamond!

After experimenting with different sizes and positions of the diamond I decided to position it horizontally and extend the points far beyond the edge of the main logo. I then filled in the side points of the diamond to make it better relate to the bold, slab-serif, two-color, bottom-arched logotype. Next, I chose the typestyles for the surrounding text; Americana BT Bold for the letters and Devangari MT Bold for the numbers. Knowing I was close to finishing, I highlighted the “75” with a red outline. This put the ever-important number on the same level as the main logo, but also kept it different from the red-with-black-outline text. Finally, parts of the diamond that interfered with the text were removed.

When I was done I presented all three options to the client. They confirmed what I already knew about the first two; the “unearth a gem” slogan was clever, but not what they were looking for, and the other one was a good idea, but it just wasn’t legible enough. For those I just wanted to present them with the ideas. If they liked one of them then I could polish them up a bit.

As it turned out I didn’t have to do much polishing. They loved the third option! After adding “Proudly serving your community” in arched Americana BT Bold at the top, the project was complete!

It can be a daunting task to design under somewhat strict guidelines. Preliminary ideas and sketches for such projects are not very good and can make one doubt his or her own worth as a designer. The beauty of these projects is that it requires designers to push themselves to find solutions that are deep below the surface. For this reason, I am always eager to take on such challenges because I know that through the process I will grow as a designer.

62.1
Rumpke’s corporate logotype

62.2
the overall shape of the Rumpke logo

62.3
“Pick up trash long enough and you’re bound to unearth a gem.”

62.4
“Sevent7 5ive Years”

62.5
“I’ll be darned!”

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