Frilly Lizards’ Thoughts

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Inspiration & Feedback on Art & Design. Please participate, share your views on any works of art or design; the artists and designers work you admire that give you inspiration in which ever form or discipline. Thanks you for taking time to read this. I’m interested to hear everyone’s opinion please share yours.

Colour

To me is something that is so important it can make or break a great design, but I find very difficult to get right, I don’t think I’m the only one who finds this area a bit of a mine field.

Due to my insecurity with colour whilst designing I have one trusted fail safe which so far has worked, I take help from nature, the one area that always gets it right. Nature has always been a source of inspiration for me and never fails to hold my attention, I take a photograph of the colours I want to use in the environment this could be from a petals on a flower, pebbles on the beach….. and use this as the basis for my colour pallet when I import the photograph into photoshop. The photographs can be lit in different ways or at different times of the day to get a range of the tone, but the colours always work.

1. ColorMunki: The color-tool family (www.colormunki.com ColorMunki Photo—$499, ColorMunki Design—$499 and ColorMunki Create—$149) burst onto the scene this past spring. Designed to provide the ability to create, control and communicate color, ColorMunki is an easy-to-use, convergent technology. Of the three ColorMunki products—ColorMunki Photo, ColorMunki Design and ColorMunki Create—the latter two are most useful for designers. The more basic of the two, ColorMunki Create, focuses on color palette creation from sources such as libraries and images. ColorMunki Design comes with more advanced features—like stored, calibrated color palettes that can be seamlessly imported to applications like QuarkXPress, InDesign and Photoshop. You can even automatically create color palettes from photographs. All three ColorMunki products are supported by a website, which provides a community forum for things like palette building and sharing and tutorials.

2. Adobe Kuler: This web-hosted application (http://kuler.adobe.com—free registration required) specializes in helping users develop color palettes for projects ranging from websites to graphic identities to interior design. And once you choose your colors, you don’t have to wait until the client presentation to get feedback. The site invites visitors to rank fellow users’ palettes, and if you find one you like you can even download it. Kuler also makes creating a theme a breeze. Just select a base color and customize your palette using the color wheel, harmony rules and slider tools. And if you find an image that inspires you, upload it and the color extraction tool can generate a color theme based on that.

3. Big Huge Labs: Big Huge Labs (http://www.bighugelabs.com/flickr/colors.php—free) also has a tool to help you craft a pleasing color palette. Just upload a photo, or copy and paste in a URL link of an image, then hit the “create” button and the site will automatically generate a palette of coordinating colors—complete with the hexidecimal numbers and a sample CSS.

Dynamic Graphics & Create magazine, Oct / Nov 2008

Is it time to retire the black and white logo?

Found this rather interesting discussion on Noisy Decent Graphics regarding:

DSC_2881

I’m working on a couple of identities at the moment where their primary usage is online. You could call them digital identities. Sure, they will be used offline at some point, people still have business cards, but the over riding majority of times they will be seen online. At least 95% of the time. A couple of times whist working on these identities we’ve discussed a black and white version, that’s a normal thing to do. And every time someone has asked, why?. Every time it’s been a struggle to answer that question.

Lots of you will be horrified by that, but most of the time, I think I’m a pretty traditional designer. Function before form, ideas will always win, etc etc. And I can put together a decent case for a black and white version of a logo. But if you start to look at the evidence it becomes harder and harder to defend. We need to be clear that in the example above I’m specifically talking about digital companies that operate in the digital world. They don’t have shops or vans. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s some pretty big money in this arena these days, Amazon, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo! et al. Do they need b+w versions of their logo?

Let’s have a look at both sides of the argument.

DSC_2873

The case for having a black and white version of your logo

1. It’s good discipline.
If your logo can work in b+w it can work in any situation, ever. It’s the mark of a good mark that it can be stripped of colour and still work. Think of the classic logos, V&A, Shell, Apple, Kelloggs, VW, IBM, whatever – they all work just as well in b+w.

2. It’s practical.
At some time in your companies life you will need a b+w, or single colour, version of your logo. Whether it’s to send to the company that makes polo shirts or for the sides of the vans or for the NCR invoices, one day you’ll need a b+w logo.

3. It’s cheaper.
Put very simply one colour is the cheapest form of production. If you need to produce a full colour logo on every single piece of collateral costs are going to rise. Considerably if you’re a large firm.

4. It’s a mark of quality.
Often, if a logo can’t be produced in B+w that’s becuase it’s some hideous 3D spinning globe of a thing. And we want to avoid all that, don’t we?

The case against having a black and white version of your logo

1. Everything is full colour now.
Almost all printing these days is full colour. With the exception of till receipts it’s rare to see a big brand using black and white printing. Do you ever see single colour vans? Do you ever see single colour logos on polo shirts? Come to think of it, does your company have any vans? Would you ever produce polo shirts? And in any case all that media can be full colour, at not much extra cost.

2. You’re online almost all of the time
If you’re an online firm, like say Google, then you hardly ever exist offline. You don’t have shops, or vans or carrier bags. So why do you need a black and white logo? Have you ever seen a single colour version of the Google logo?

2261854762_a63a289dbd_bFull colour Google logo on stickers, bags and err, a tin of mints? Picture borrowed from Mex Beady Eyesusual rules apply.

3. It doesn’t affect quality.
I’ve never seen a single colour version of the Google logo. Or the eBay logo. The Tate have a single colour logo, but it’s always used in glorious full colour. It doesn’t seem to affect them.

DSC_2869

DSC_2882

Sure, there are some companies who will always need single colour versions of their logo, a brick making company for example. But more and more we’re going to see firms who simply have no need for a black and white version. So, what do you think? Should we retire the black and white logo in 2009?

Comments

One obvious reason to keep a monochrome logo: engraving. I’ve had to prepare artwork for engraving onto glass/steel (ie: trophies), and having a properly hinted single-colour logo is an absolute must. Also: you never know when somebody (eg, someone whose competition you are sponsoring) will suddenly say “can we put your logo on the trophy”?It’s boring and niche, but it’s the most obvious place where one-colour logos are, to my mind, essential.

The Apple logo was in a rainbow version for a long while, and at the time it was said to be the most expensive ever.
All the colours were used almost everywhere:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/piratemode/2168582392/
But those were the ’80s, you know, wealth had to be shown. Anyway, it is true that nothing is b&w anymore these days, but the photocopy can be a killer for a colour logo. And bills, letters, various kind of corporate documents are still photocopied in b&w. So let’s have coloured logos, but they shall not lose their soul when turned in black.

Posted by: Loïc | Mar 17, 2009 at 07:42

Let’s not. To the practical reasons already suggested, I’d add the importance of reversing out. One tends to think of b&w meaning a black logo on white, but white on black – or other colour – is probably more often required. And a logo that’ll hold its own as black on white will probably also hold up when reversed out. (I’m willing to bet the Tate logo has appeared white out of all manner of colours along the way.) I’d also add an aesthetic reason: b&w logos, or the best logos in black and white form, just look so beautiful. (See your images.) I think it’s the purity. This is what makes b&w such a good test of an identity. Losing the colour forces the logo to lean more heavily on form, pattern, composition. If they’re not up to snuff, it falls over. They should be up to snuff, or it’s not a good enough mark. Google is clearly a rubbish logo anyway. It looks horrible in colour, let alone b&w. Is it the biggest crap logo in the world now, I wonder?Posted by: Mike Reed | Mar 17, 2009 at 10:19

For me, the most important factor is your first point, Ben — it’s good discipline. A great idea shouldn’t rely on colour, so for a designer to focus on shape and form is simply good practice. (In my humble opinion.)Posted by: David Airey | Mar 17, 2009 at 10:34

Some people are colour blind, remember, so we always need to keep in mind the alternative view of any logo. Black and white should ALWAYS work – there will always at some point, be a requirement for it. A client logo I just designed recently, who are entirely based online, has been requested for a charity sponsorship brochure – they only have the budget to print in black and white, so that is how the logo will be. Luckily, it works well because I always do one. It will be interesting to see how the other sponsors fare, actually. I’d hate to see b/w discontinued – it can make or break what you thought was a sturdy logo design…it’s a good test :)Posted by: minxlj | Mar 17, 2009 at 10:59

It’s the acid test. If a logo can work in black and white you’re halfway to a solid mark. I’ve worked with a number of clients where a B/W version of a logo hasn’t even entered their mind, and thus the pro’s have had to be laid out to them.Posted by: Abbas | Mar 17, 2009 at 11:19

Black and white is not the issue, form is. Black and white provides the means to express the essential form of a brandmark. It provides the highest contrast between figure and ground and is the most simple, clear and demanding version. Even if the brandmark doesn’t get used in black and white in application it is the strongest position from which to work to ensure the brandmark is properly resolved. Clients may never require the black and white version directly but they should always ask for it.

I have a few points FOR b+w aswell. Take Amazon as one of the examples, all of their packaging comes in plain cardboard boxes with a plain black version of their logo. Google have moved into the mobile world with the G1, they must want their ‘lovely’ branding all over it. My point is that for online companies to make serious money they have to be selling physical products which will need some form of offline branding. To my mind it would be short-sighted of a digital company not to consider a b+w or single colour logo, what happens if a magazine or newspaper wanted to feature that company and use their logo. For me I agree that logos should always work in black and white, simply because it is good practice, and it is still practical.Posted by: MatthewNotMatt | Mar 17, 2009 at 11:49

I concur with reasons listed thus far. Also, maybe we’re instead at a point where we should be asking, Do we have to use color? B&w is no longer a technical issue with the internet, but an issue of meaning and aesthetic.Posted by: Ricky Irvine | Mar 17, 2009 at 12:04

I think having a single color version of a logo still has merit (if not for trophies, but for ink stamps). The new variable these days for me at least is: how can this brand come across in a 16×16 favicon? Posted by: Glass | Mar 17, 2009 at 13:33

“I’ve never seen a single colour version of the Google logo” 
so, doesn’t mean it’s a good logo, have you seen the Google logo on a dark background – it does happen and it’s hideous,
why don’t you see it as a single colour, because it would just look like type not a logo type Posted by: john cooepr | Mar 17, 2009 at 13:52

I think there is also a cultural issue to consider. “black and white” in our culture means truthful, serious, has integrity etc. Is it a coincidence that newspaper circulations are falling at the same time they have moved to colour illustrations – in part is this because newspapers have lost their serious black and white identity? Posted by: Andrew | Mar 17, 2009 at 13:56

It’s kinda like when DVDs replaced VHS and for a while people bought those god awful hermaphrodite VHS/DVD players that could deal with both. I think we are in that very period with logos.Posted by: AK | Mar 17, 2009 at 14:51

I say it’s like the seat belt: You’ll never regret having it on, but you might regret it if you don’t; It won’t hurt to have a b+w logo, but it might if you need it and don’t have it. As well as everything that’s been posted above…Posted by: Antonio | Mar 17, 2009 at 15:00

Simply put, if you are working on producing high quality identities it is essential to produce a logo that works in B&W as one of your base requirements. You should never limit the application of your ident at concept stage as if/when the logo becomes successful there will need to be many versions to cater for an incredibly diverse range of applications, many of which are difficult to foresee or plan for. As examples of diversity, think of applying your logo to the turf at Twickenham, or on the sponsors board behind a football player interview, or on the hull of a Volvo Round The World yacht etc etc… If you are planning on success, plan on having a B&W logo as an essential. Posted by: Julian Saunders | Mar 17, 2009 at 16:25

This is an easy question to answer in my book… you can never retire black and white logos! The real truth is that it’s essential for business logos to be versatile enough to be used in one color (not necessarily black mind you) if it were ever needed. This isn’t a debate at all… it is simply designers trying to find an excuse or justification for using transparencies, gradients. multiple color combinations and a myriad of other techniques that they are attempting to pass off as good logo design. Well, I for one am I’m not buying it!Posted by: SuperDave4eva | Mar 17, 2009 at 16:37

I wanted a color logo but after everything, fell in love with the monochrome design of B&W… I have all of my stuff in 2 colors, but always fall back to the black design. I think it is essential in logo designs, not only for print costs and project purposes, but also for aesthetic reasons as well. Posted by: Christa Watson | Mar 17, 2009 at 16:51

I am inclined to feel that as long as the logo is good/well-designed, it’s going to look fine or not cause problems in monochrome anyway. I guess that means prioritising simplicity and strength including making the main characteristic(s) of the logo comprised of recognisable shapes that relate in a way that can be demonstrated as making sense. Sorry that’s a bit waffley.  So the question is not so much ‘will it look good in b&w’ but rather ‘is it simple and strong enough for a variety of uses and display modes?’Posted by: SteveM | Mar 17, 2009 at 18:09

I agree that black and white logos should not be retired, but it’s hard not to feel the future bearing down. Hang around a few logo showcase sites long enough and you’ll see how little respect even some designers have for the idea of creating in black and white. Posted by: Simon | Mar 17, 2009 at 19:45

“Too much colour distracts the audience”
Jacques Tati Posted by: Loïc | Mar 17, 2009 at 20:40

I think the reason most never see the single color logo of an online company is because that is typically reserved for internal use. This is a must and should never be retired. B+W will always be needed for letterheads, and the like for financial and administrative uses. You’d have to be daft to want to run four-color logos on all your in-house documents and memos that would be a ridiculous waste of money. Posted by: Richard | Mar 17, 2009 at 20:48

I think the key point is that it is good discipline to have a clear logo – and a clear one will work in black and white. To that I would add, it should mean something and be distinctive – too. God knows there enough meaningless marques all wearing the same clothes.Posted by: Max Gadney | Mar 17, 2009 at 22:32

If we’re going to retire the B&W logo, let’s wait until 2012. the most garish and colour-full (non-mono) logo will be in full-force then, so we could just make 2012 the year of the colour logo. out with the dull and the classic, in with the neo-baroque colour barage. man. Posted by: lauren | Mar 18, 2009 at 06:05

God I saw a single color treatment of the Google identity this am and it was disgusting. The kerning looked all out of kilter and the LAYOUT ! Man, you should have seen the layout. It made me want to fucking die. It wasn’t even THERE. I mean, it was REVERSED OUT. It was a logo created out of the image that was backing the ground. No doubt done by the chairman’s niece or something – just out of art school. Posted by: Tom | Mar 18, 2009 at 09:59

Personally I feel that if a design works well, it will work in black and white, I design in black and white and consider colour as the design develops – this does not mean that at times I don’t have a pallet in my head from the beginning but I do try to ignore this tendency of letting colour influence my design, perhaps this is the wrong way of tackling this issue.

 

 

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