May 21, 2010

The Odonata Logo

So, being in PA, I have access to a great beer culture and lots of beer. I do not, however, have access to many West Coast breweries, and so I rely heavily on the network of beer bloggers to find out about stuff. One of my favorites, Drink With the Wench, is high on Odonata Beer Company.

Now, I don't know this brewery per se, but I do recognize the name of brewmaster Peter Hoey, because he was formerly at the now-defunct Sacramento Brewing Co. before opening Odonata in 2009. Sac Brew had some sweet design, and I was sorry to see it go.

Being relatively new, Odonata has limited artwork, but I wanted to look at the logo, which I like a lot.

The first thing one might wonder is: "Why an insect?" The stylized dragonfly is a nod to the name, which, as the brewery describes:
Odonata (OH-DOE-NAH-TA) is the order that encompasses all dragonflies & damselflies. We're big fans of these mythical insects and they tie in great with the Belgian theme we hope to cultivate in our beers. For instance, there are nearly 70 different species of odonata in Belgium, all visually stunning and evocative in their own way. We want our beers to be as delicate, as beautiful and imaginative as the odonata of the world.
So that's why they're using a bug. But obviously, the use of the swirling lines for the design work keeps it from the "icky" category of bug, and safely within the "pretty" category (yes, both of those are technical art criticism terms that you need a degree to use).

What I like about the image is that it not only makes a bug design look attractive and delicate, but that it also has the cardinal virtue of logos, which is versatility. When a place designs a logo, from a branding standpoint, that logo has to be able to look good on a huge variety of products and backdrops.

Take a look at the Odonata logo on the art for their Rorie's Ale:
With just a simple red-black fade and some repositioning the logo now has a look of classy elegance, which makes sense for a limited-edition Belgian-style Quad (certainly a high-end beer) named after the brewer's daughter.

Now look at how the logo functions on their Saison label (it's down at the bottom):
Now that bug fits perfectly with the laid-back, agrarian feel of a saison. The checkered yellow, simple tractor and typeface, and small sprig of wheat on the right all make the dragonfly look like it was made to represent the summer weather for which saisons make one's throat yearn.

Choosing a logo is one of the more important steps a business takes, and it's particularly difficult because most of the time one is trying to visually represent a brand that doesn't exist yet. Peter Hoey could easily have had this logo before the first batch of Odonata beer ever came out, so there's a certain amount of guessing about the company's future that comes with logo creation. Ideally, a great logo should express the values of the business, be visually appealing at all sizes, and be adaptable for a wide variety of purposes. And by those standards, the Odonata logo is a great success.

1 comment:

  1. Great post - I've been very impressed with Odonata's take on lable design since they came out last year. I specifically like your point about the need for logo versatility.

    Interestingly, Peter Hoey's brother owns and runs Odonata Wines, a small winery in N. California using hte same logo. If I recall, when they created Odonata Brewing Co., they wanted to have a family link between the two businesses.

    Keep up the good work.