San Francisco Design Week Logo

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If you think the logo design and branding process is trying, consider it from the perspective of an actual designer. A designer’s logo must be the best example of their work, showing their timeless style and their knowledge of trends in the same image. A logo representing a group of designers or the design industry as a whole must be absolutely flawless.

Consider the San Francisco Design Week 2011 logo. Do you think it is flawless? We don’t think so; no work of art is perfect, even icons such as the Mona Lisa and Beethoven’s Fifth. However, it combines classic good logo design with many of this year’s hot logo design trends. Considering that SFSW is a project of numerous professional design organizations and represents West Coast design as a whole, the bar has been set rather high for this design.

What is classic? We like the jewel toned colors, along with using a logotype instead of an image. The trendy elements are easier to pick out: the grading of the colors, the use of transparency in parts of the design, and the rounded letters. The transparent parts of the logo could be taken as backlighting, but they actually represent a phenomenon for which San Francisco is known: fog. Only SF insiders and regular visitors know about the intense fog that blankets the city at times, so the subtlety of an inside joke is added.

We have to give San Francisco Design Week a shout-out for avoiding clichés such as cable cars, the Golden Gate bridge, and the well-known San Francisco skyline. Cliché is never a good logo motif. Fog may be a little less concrete as a concept, a little more difficult to render in a visual form, but it is appropriate and, in this case, well-done.

We normally are critical of trendy logos, but event logos are temporary by nature. SFDW had a different logo design last year, and the event will have a new logo design next year. It’s important to avoid full-on faddishness in a professional design event, but a little trendiness is appropriate for the occasion.

If you are interested in seeing how logo design trends can change from year to year (a good reason not to go with an overly trendy logo for your own business), check out last year’s San Francisco Design Week logo. In monochromatic red, the image features words related to design scrawled around a square created from negative space. The name of the event is written inside the square in a simple font that contrasts with the handwritten edging. Contrast and bold hues were trendy last year; this year, the colors are softer and the shapes more rounded.

Trends in logo design may not always be the best choice for a small business, but they are fun to watch. If you need a logo that is both timeless and timely, talk to a logo designer about the best way to approach your brand.