When I want to learn something new or improve my skill, I usually go one of three paths:
- I understand the issue on my own
- Watching another person work
- I am reading about how to complete a task
I created logos long before I got a design education. Although I had some understanding of the principles of design, I still tried to figure out logo design on my own. Forgive me my first employers who ordered a logo, but received a flat jeep at 72-DPI. Sorting out the issue on my own did not work.
For me, the best way to learn something is to see how someone else is doing it and put that knowledge into practice. I can confidently change the brakes on almost any sedan because I once watched a friend of mine change the brakes. But in the case of logo design, I can’t just bring in an experienced designer and watch them work. Of course, thanks to YouTube, Twitch and Skillshare we have the opportunity to learn from other designers, but it would be incomparably cooler to sit next to the legendary logo designers of the past and present and learn from their experience. How can this be done? Moving on to the next path: read about how to complete the task.
I must say right away that I have not come across a book that explicitly teaches how to create logos. But here’s what I noticed: Studying the design work of the past inspires me. I’m trying to figure out why these logos have become classics – and I’m starting to better understand how to create great logos myself. Here is a list of my favorite resources that I am inspired by:
Handbook of Design and Arrangements, Clarence P. Hornung, 1959
Handbook of Designs and Devices, Clarence P. Hornung, 1959
This book doesn’t talk about logos so much as it shows various geometric shapes and their combinations. This can be a great base for your logos.
Symbol, Angus Hyland and Steven Bateman, 2011
This book is relatively new compared to my previous recommendations. It has over 300 pages dedicated to trademarks of the 1960s – 2010s. More than 1300 symbols are categorized by visual characteristics. Various short cases are explored throughout the book.
Identify, Ivan Chermayeff, Tom Geismar, and Sagi Haviv, 2011
A chronicle of the work of Chermaev and Geismar, one of the most prolific design firms of our time, is a favorite book on my shelf. Around 100 logos, accompanied by case descriptions, provide an incredible immersion in the world’s most outstanding logos of all time.
Logo modernism, Jens Müller, 2015
This book is the newest in my collection, and literally outstanding. The book is 38 centimeters high and weighs almost 3.5 kilograms: this mammoth simply does not fit on my shelf. As well as the Symbol, this book unites 6,000 brands, grouped by visual characteristics. Plus, they all date back to the 1940s and 1980s, so this book is my favorite source of inspiration.
By studying the work of great designers, we can lean on their shoulders to see the big picture better and find new ways to create outstanding (hopefully) logos.