Two of the companies I picked for logo/branding analysis (Rose City Rollers and Feel the Music!) are smaller organizations that have nonprofit status. Feel the Music! requires professional look, as it is an organization that works primarily with children and relies on philanthropic donation and grant money to sustain its programming. While Rose City Rollers, Portland’s roller derby league, is also a nonprofit, it relies mostly on member dues, ticket sales, and advertising partnerships for its support. Therefore, they are more able to showcase their slightly wild, rock and rock attitude in their branding. I chose also to look at Billboard magazine, which is a huge company. Although rooted in the artistic (musical) realm, Billboard is definitively corporate. Their logo represents their gravitas in the music business while maintaining a sense of fun.
#1 Feel the Music!
The actual name of this organization based in NYC has an exclamation point, and I am curious as to why they didn’t include it in the logo. I have always heard that exclamation points feel to the reader like shouting and are to be avoided. If the exclamation point in the organization’s title is meant to convey excitement and inclusion, I feel like both of those sentiments are more or less expressed in this logo. The way the stems on the letters “f,” “l,” and “c” extend to the circle evokes musical notes on a staff. The manner in which the eye must follow around the twists and turns in the words “feel” and “music” creates a playfulness that engages the reader. Another reason this logo succeeds: the extension of letters to meet the circle creates a shape, almost turning the logo into a symbol rather than merely a name in a circle. If the same font had been used but the letters didn’t meet the edge of the circle, this logo would not be very captivating. I am also interested in the choice of using a font that is reminiscent of neon tubing in a sign, or the pathways of a Pac-man game. I don’t think either of these references was intentional, but it creates a great maze-like feel of continuity. The choice of using the one color is wise, I think, as there is enough going on in the image without adding the complication of multiple colors. This logo is just about perfect for all applications- web or print. Even if the resolution is low, it’s still going to look great, and would be fine in black and white.
#2 Rose City Rollers
I absolutely love this logo. It’s more complex than most logos though, so I could see the amount of detail and number of elements working against it in smaller printed pieces, like business cards or a letterhead. This version would also not work well in black and white, as the rose would look like a blob. That said, it works great on the web and on merchandise. I have a t-shirt with this logo, and it always invites questions from strangers. What I appreciate about it are the strategic pops of red, the idea of motion in the fists and the wheel in “Rollers,” and the juxtaposition of cursive script and tattoo-style font. Black and red are colors that, when used together, often connote political radicalism. While Rose City Rollers is not politically affiliated, the use of the arresting color combination was wise for a tough, nonconformist sport. Also, in some of the league’s promotional material, the red is echoed (repetition!) in blood splatters. The use of a roller skate wheel for the “o” in “Rollers,” as well as the swoosh of wind behind the wheel is ingenious. It’s an efficient use of space, reminding me of the arrow in the FedEx logo. Of course, in FedEx’s logo the arrow was more or less subliminal and here the wheel figures prominently. I like the contradiction of cursive script with tattoo font because it alludes to a sort of subversive cheekiness, which is a pretty prevalent theme in the world of roller derby.
This is an established company, founded in 1894. They publish a trade magazine and two websites—one for the consumer/music fan, and a “B2B” site for music business professionals. All three outlets use the above logo primarily, but the company uses another logo (below) for Twitter, Google +, Facebook, and other social-media outlets. I don’t know if this is common practice, but I think it’s really smart for a company to brand itself differently for social media usage. I’m not going to discuss the below logo here, but just wanted to include it for comparison’s sake.
The primary logo with the full name of the company is very simple, the main defining feature being the filled-in body of the letters “b,” “o,” “a,” and “d.” I think it’s interesting that the designer did not choose to fill in the first letter of the word with a color as well. I imagine that was actually tried before this version was settled on. Perhaps if the first letter was filled in, it would look too cutesy. As it is, it is verging on cutesy, but I think escapes that due to the graphic, thick, sans serif font. The kerning of the characters is worth noting, too. I don’t know how or to what extent the character spacing was manipulated, but it seems significant that the “b,” “o,” and “a” are touching, and none of the rest of the letters are. This is also where the color is concentrated in the logo. This increases the readability of the word, which might otherwise jolt the eye too much, with the tall “i” and “l”s. I think the choice to use primary colors all in a row is a good one, but to decrease the risk of calling to mind a children’s toy (maybe that’s why I think this logo verges on cutesy), the unexpected lime green is used in the outlier “d.” Overall, this is the most sophisticated and bold of the three logos.