Three logos for one client

I struggled for several years developing my logo. Initially, I came up with an open book with the acronym, MBB&GD (Michael Brady Book & Graphic Design), which I used for just a short while until I reluctantly decided that the image said “old-technology,” my business name was too narrowly limited to books, and it was just plain too long.

I shortened it to Michael Brady Design, but I was still stuck for a logo.

I couldn’t settle on any device or abstract mark, and I didn’t want to go back to some illustrative image, like the book. What was left was a monogram, and M, B, and D, or m, b, and d, weren’t the most compatible three letters. I wracked my brains and wore out the tip of more than one pen trying to make them work in some kind of symmetrical way. Nothing. I began to think that maybe using the lowercase letters might lend itself more to a solution than the capitals, which were just unsuited to each other. The M is a square letter with points, and the B and D are both letters that are round on their right sides. What could I do with that? Hence, I began to work with the small letters, and I gave up the fruitless search for a fearful symmetry and started looking for asymmetries. Then I noticed how I could use the mirror-image similarities of the b and d, offset and overlap them, and use an especially crisp typeface, De Vinne by Bitstream (a digital recreation of George Bruce’s No. 11, not connected to Theodore Low De Vinne, btw). This was the result:

I added my full business name to the upper right corner, carrying through on the overall visual theme of bare, crisp type in an asymmetrical arrangement:

The full, complete logo and mark looked good, I liked it a lot, and it worked well in many situations. But it didn’t read well at very small sizes and, because the long name hung off the right side, it was hard to use in confined spaces, like the spine of a book. Nonetheless, I kept it because, frankly, I liked it a great deal and I was particularly enamored of the clean qualities of the type design.

However, over time, I looked again for a compact logo, probably a monogram. I took a cue from the Calvin Klein logo, cK, set in Bodoni, a face widely popular in the fashion press, and first set the M and D in smaller capital letters and the B larger, in the middle of them. It had possibilities, but the letters looked like three politicians standing stiffly shoulder to shoulder for a group photograph.

Then I saw it: I overlapped the D and B, producing a cluster of interlocking arcs, almost like the windows of a Gothic cathedral. But to complete the task, I needed a face with a splayed-leg M, a B with two almost equal counters, and a D with almost straight connectors between the vertical and the arced right side, so that it when it overlapped the B, the openings would be sufficiently large. I chose a font called Corrodet Classic Caps, by Manfred Klein.

That’s the bare logomark. In the layout, I add “Michael Brady Design” after the mark, often in Fontin. But I leave open the possibility to change the font of both the monogram and the name based on the layout needs (Optima is quite good for the monogram).

Copyright 1988–2018 by Michael Brady or the publishers