December 26, 2010

Logos of New Seattle Area Breweries

Hope everyone out there had a good Christmas. And yes, I know that not everyone is Christian (I, for example, am not), but it's a secular holiday by now, and the vast majority of people at least use the holiday as time with the family, or to at least see a movie.

Speaking of movies, for those interested, Jay Brooks' recording of Ken Grossman telling the Sierra Nevada Story is up on Youtube in 8 parts.

So, inspired by this post a few months ago, I wanted to take a look at one region's new breweries, and how each of them approached the logo design challenge. Remember that the hallmark of a great logo is versatility, simplicity and recognizability.

First, Valholl Brewing, from Poulsbo, WA:

Fairly straightforward Norse God (side note: Josh at Brews and Books has said that "Vikings are the new vampires," so I'm hopeful that Twilight and Vampire Diaries will be replaced by things like Northern Lights and Pillaging Sagas). The scar over the eye indicates Woden/Odin. Probably not too many Viking breweries in the NW, so it's easily identifiable and round so it's probably fairly versatile. The best thing is that the designer resisted the temptation to make this more complex than it needed to be.

Quincy, WA's Ancient Lakes Brewing Company:
Hopefully a Web site design is in their 2011 plans, but the logo is not bad. We'll forgive the use of Papyrus font because the skeleton of the fish or Trilobite (trivia: my favorite dinosaur as a young Curator) manages to be adorable despite being gravel-colored bones. The curvature makes it particularly interesting. If they get rid of the text circle, I'd really love this.

Bellevue Brewing Company:
It looks a little too much like the horrible new iTunes logo for my taste, but I like the use of the hops coming from the vine off of the p. I would have actually made the vines come from each end (off the Y and the B) for balance, but it's simple and adds some interest right now.  The marbling in the text looks a little fake. I worry about black-on-gray as far as versatility, but I think that background circle can be adjusted (or better, eliminated) to make it work.

Seattle's Emerald City:

Nice wordmark. One instantly understands that we'll be seeing some 1940s and '50s throwback design (appropriate, given the movie Wizard of Oz came out in 1939), and that's precisely what the site plays on. Strong, identifiable, simple, and replicable. A good reminder that text is often more than enough for a logo.

Icicle Brewing Company, in Leavenworth, WA, currently under construction:

One thing we've seen a lot of is the use of a circle as a logo framing element. It's not that it's bad, but when there are half a dozen new ones in the Seattle region alone, one starts to wonder how recognizable it will be. I think too many breweries are scared of having a logo with irregular edges, and I don't think that fear is justified. Of course, adding a border to your circular coaster or whatever is necessary, but many times the use of a border circle just weakens the logo. Here, after 5 minutes of Photoshop:

So you can see the faint outline of where the circle used to be, but isn't that a stronger look? Same bold black-and-white look with ice and mountains and diagonal manliness, but without that generic circle. The only downside is it looks like it could be a snowboard company (or something else sporty but unrelated to beer), but I think that's okay if done right. One wonders if Starbucks/Seattle's Best have something to do with this bias.

Lastly, here's the North Sound Logo Work from the page of their designers, Westward Design:
I like the use of fermenters as the framing element, because it actually does something none of these others do, which is inform us that the place makes beer. But there's some work to be done on the font front, because I don't think the drop shadow around NSB is bringing the lettering out enough. Also, the slight italicizing of the font below that doesn't really do enough to energize the logo.

So that was a lot of logos, but we can take away a few things:
  1. Lots of breweries use circles, some unnecessarily
  2. Not many breweries use beer-related forms in their logos
  3. Text can be either a great element or an unfortunate one, so choose font wisely

1 comment:

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