Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dart Logo Design Process

A couple of days ago, I posted my version of the logo for Google's DART programming language. Even though it only took an hour of work, it exemplifies my principles quite well. I wanted to explicate the process.

This was the first stage. I knew that I wanted bold, so that meant a solid color. And while a logo doesn't necessarily have to have anything to do with the name, I thought that the word "dart" was well-suited to a literal logo. It's a decent start, but still way too bland.

I added a circle representing the dart board. I like this because it adds a center/core/heart to the logo. The circle becomes the focal point for the logo's construction and gives you a strong foundation for alignment with other elements in the total logo and on letterhead, web pages, and business cards.

But now, the logo is poorly balanced. The top of the logo is complex and heavy, while the bottom is loaded with whitespace. Good weight to a logo is critical. Not only for aesthetic reasons that are hard to quantify, but for layout with other elements like the aforementioned letterhead and business cards. So I added more circles to really hammer home that this is supposed to be a dart board.

I should have been aware of this before this point, but I don't like where the logo is going at all. I didn't follow my own principles at that last step and added things to find balance when I should have been subtracting. The logo is now a busy mess. I still like the basic principle, so I fall back on another principle of logo construction: synechdoche. Basically, I can refer to a totality of something by only rendering a single element of it. Google's original Dart logo did this by rendering the fletching of a dart. Hard literalism in a logo can frequently lead to an extremely boring logo, as it has done here.

I really like the circle, I know that I want to keep it, so I lop off the top of the dart and retain the identifying elements of the point and the ribbed grip. I add downward-pointing curves to add motion and life to the logo, while also adding a subtle perception of depth, as though we are looking down the shaft of the dart, toward the board.

The bottom still appears a bit heavy, and I worry that the dot in the middle is unnecessary, so I remove it. The logo still works, that means that the dot was pointless. It's dead. I am now in full-on minimalist mode, and I delete things until I reach a point where the simple concept of "dart" is maintained with the fewest elements.

I try deleting the grips and I'm left with this torch-like-looking thing. It does not immediately look like a dart. And if I delete the inner circle, the whole logo looks too much like the computer "power" symbol that is so popular. As such, I return the grips. I'm left with something that is looking pretty good, but now I'm going to try to delete the last bit, the inner circle.

Yes! It still works. It is abstract, but easily recognizable. It may be not as explicit as the version with two circles, but it still works and has one-fewer elements. Perfection is when you can't take anything else away. This logo, insofar as it is what it is, is perfect.

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