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Logo design for Scroll magazine

posted by Veerle Pieters
15 October 2008

Web Directions is founded in Australia in 2004, by long time web industry figures Maxine Sherrin and John Allsopp, Web Directions conferences bring together the web industry’s leading experts from around the world to educate, entertain and inspire our attendees.

When Maxine Sherrin asked me if I would be interested in designing the first magazine for their web conferences I was thrilled by this invite and also honored. The tought alone, to design a magazine for print for a client on the other side of the world sounded very exotic and challenging. Since I know both John and Maxine pretty well I didn't need extra time to think about it.

The logo design brief

Brand mantra

Scroll is a collectable 64 pages magazine for people who love web design and who are intrigued by the endless possibilities of the web. Each edition of Scroll will be tied into a Web Directions conference. The content of Scroll would be articles and stories by web designers, developers and thinkers, detailed conference session descriptions and speaker bios, micro articles/mini photo essays relating to web life, and sponsor advertising. Scroll is a magazine that has to evoke a feeling of excitement. It should be beautiful, elegant, timeless and sophisticated.

Audience

It's a magazine for web designers and developers looking to learn the very latest, and quite sophisticated, thinking on web techniques and technologies, as well as visions for the future of the web.

Look and feel

On the question to describe the look and feel using adjectives or short phrases, my client mentioned: timeless/classic, elegant, minimal, concise, sophisticated, warm, lush, luxurious, tasteful, graceful, refined, and collectable.

Timing

As for timing, my deadline was to complete the entire magazine by August 15th.

My sketches and thinking process

One of the first things I always do when I start a logo design job is sketching. The other thing I do is analyzing: analyzing the letters in the name and their shape, looking for ways to do something creative with them. The fact that the name of the logo is very compact is of course a plus. My attention went to the 's' the 'o' and the double 'l' at the end.

Secondly I was thinking of the meaning of the name and I thought of scrollbar. Then again that thought was there for only a few minutes because if you picture scrolling in your mind, you think of scrollbars. To me this was a dead end and not the right angle to approach a logo like this. Scrollbars are sometimes associated in a not so positive way of browsing the web, plus there is no way you can translate this into a logo. My thinking was to leave the meaning and go for a pure typographic styled logo.

Scroll logo design doodles

There were 2 of these 4 sketches (see image above) that I though had potential. My thinking was that the top left one was OK but not good enough to proceed and play further with. The one on the bottom left felt a bit too blocky and less legible. Also, I don't see any possibilities to do something special with the 's', 'o' or double 'l'. The logos on the right let me do just that. With the top right one I can play with the 's' and maybe try out even more different things. With the other one I was thinking I could play with the length of the double 'l' and have them go all the way to the top of the magazine, creating a more vertical effect using a condensed typeface.

The Illustrator phase

Once I have made my decision which sketches have potential I fire up my Illustrator.

Proposal 1

For the first logo I didn't start with any typeface, I just drew the letters using the Ellipse tool or Pen tool. First I drew the black parts using a tick stroke. Then I added a thin white stroke on top using the Appearance palette. Wait a minute, this is not a tutorial ;)

Once I drew the letters separately I start playing with the position and transition between them. In my sketch I already played with that idea, but a sketch can sometimes give another impression and isn't always a bullet proof representation of the outcome. In my Illustrator version I use black and white. My logo has a black fill. My sketch uses an outline, so the 's' can be distinct from the 'c', same for the 'o' that overlaps the first 'l'. With an all black fill this might not work very well.

Next step was pure experimentation until I found a well balanced and compact logo. The white centered line helps to make the logo more legible and elegant. It makes the logo look minimal, modern and yet timeless at the same time. The thickness of the stroke gives the logo enough weight and visibility, just perfect for the cover of a magazine or maybe a t-shirt.

The Illustrator phase of Scroll logo version 1
These were my 4 steps to the final design
  • 1) my initial design with the 'o' touching the double 'l' and the 'r' connected to the 'o'
  • 2) reshaping 'c'
  • 3) moving the 's' on top of the 'c'
  • 4) connecting the 'c' to the 'o'
Proposal 2

For the second version I was thinking of using a condensed typeface. I chose to go for the FF Rosetta and add my own personal touch, by tweaking the 's' and 'r' just a bit and making the double 'l' longer.

The Illustrator phase of Scroll logo version 2

Next I was thinking of adding a little icon that looks a bit like the shape of a leaf, but then very abstract. It's a square repeating the combination of round and sharp corners exactly like the letters. It would be a great fit to put the issue number in.

Logo design proposals

Since this logo's main purpose is to fit on the cover of a magazine I thought I present it to my client using a fictive cover photo. Depending on the cover illustration or photo I thought of using the logo either in black or in white.

Scroll logo design proposals presented on the cover of the magazine
  • 1) design proposals
  • 2) final version with actual cover of issue number 1 (illustration by Carla Hackett)

Logo version 2 is elegant but compared to version 1 it has less impact in my opinion. The image shows 3 different cover layouts and were part of a set of template pages that I showed John and Maxine for my first proposal. This was without a doubt one of the most exciting projects I've worked on the past couple of months and John and Maxine are amazing people to work with. More about the magazine layout process itself in one of my later articles, I promise. So stay tuned :) If you can't wait you can check out the Scroll Magazine website and order a copy.

What we did

Brand design and consulting

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