Megan Deal asked asked me to name 3-5 of my favorite logo marks. Here’s what I sent her.

Dutch Rail logo by Gert Dumbar at Tel Design
The mark, designed in 1968, is still in use today. As I travelled through the Netherlands, unable to speak or read the language, I simply followed the mark. It worked.  Universally, the mark says travel by rail. Since it’s always on a train, schedule, conductor, etc… There’s no need to spell out Dutch Rail.

Swiss Exhibition by Armin Hofmann
Recognizable by the iconic Swiss cross and “E” for exhibition, it’s a name and a mark all at once. Again, why spell out what doesn’t need to be spelled out?

Big Ten by Michael Bierut, Michael Gericke and team at Pentagram
As you can tell, I’m fond of marks that don’t over communicate. Why write out “BIG TEN,” when you can simply say “BIG?” 

Cummins by Paul Rand
Rand created a dynamic identity before dynamic identities were cool. The mark, created in 1962, is still in use today. Next time you’re on a road trip, look for this mark in chrome on the pickup trucks (typically Dodge Rams) you pass by.

5 tips for making a better mark:

  1. You don’t have to spell everything out. 
  2. Letterforms are shapes. 
  3. Patiently observe as serendipity reveals itself within the letterforms. For example: The Big Ten and Swiss Exhibition each appear serendipitously preordained, as if the “10” was always hidden within “IG” and the “E” a natural appendage of the Swiss Cross – each yearning for discovery by their artists’ eyes prior to conception. 
  4. Simplicity leads to longevity. 
  5. Design a mark so that anybody, especially non-designers, can draw it from memory.

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