Scholars' Lab Blog //Representative and Abstract Prism Logos
Blog //Representative and Abstract Prism Logos

The prism Logo now has four prototypes. I spent part of the Thanksgiving holiday a few weeks ago creating ten to fifteen options and presented them to the group at our Tuesday meeting two weeks ago. My initial intention was to focus on creating a cohesive, but abstract shape that could be repeated elsewhere on the site without the full text of the logo. The logo that elicited the most response from the group was a more representative option that I likely spent the least amount of time on. I was initially surprised at the group’s choice, but afterward I realized that this is pretty typical for this kind of work.

It can be easy to create an over-wrought logo when you devote a long section of time to it. As you push, pull and minutely alter an initial idea to make it different from a previous example, the result is often an amalgamation of too many ideas. Inversely, I have found that a logo I create quickly “works” best because the quickness of the stroke leads to a corresponding quickness of communication.

The group’s decision to pursue a logo that more clearly represented an actual prism gave the logo direction, but it also capped the logo’s level of abstraction. It was my hope however to see how far I could abstract the design without losing its representative quality. At its core, a prism is inherently a narrative object with an implied beginning, a transition, and a result. These three elements had to exist in the logo with a perceivable order. As for most things in a digital medium, the four possible changes could be shape, texture, scale and color. In the end, I could not use all of these elements as part of the transition without the narrative breaking down. The transition was therefore set for scale and color, and the “transition object” was simplified to contrast with the color and scale changes on either side of it.

I admit that logos and font choice do not make for the most entertaining reading, especially without visual examples (You readers will have to wait until we have a prototype of the site to see the logo.) That said, I wanted to note that the representative prism “narrative” option ended up completely changing my approach to the font for the prism logo. Initially, I looked exclusively at more stripped-down, modern, sans-serif fonts with the vaguest hint at a meticulous human hand in order to connote a sense of precision for the web application. However, after selecting the representative design of the prism and its narrow beam motif, the width of the sans-serif fonts seemed to dwarf the rest of the logo. I then began to look at fonts with bracketed serifs and long flat bases that invoked the shape of the thin horizontal lines in the rest of the logo.

Today’s meeting should offer us an opportunity to get all but the last details decided on for the logo. I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s reaction.

Cite this post: Ed Triplett. “Representative and Abstract Prism Logos”. Published December 24, 2011. Accessed on .