January 17, 2016

Hand-Lettered Logo Design: Should we Ditch the Software?

Hand-Lettered Logo Design: Should we Ditch the Software?

Everything old is new again! Hand-lettering is swimming against the stream.

Has the culture run out of ideas? Are we just endlessly recycling old styles, old music, old movies, and old TV shows because we don’t have a single innovative concept, or anything interesting to say? We don’t want to blame digital communications, but it feels like the world came up with more interesting trends back before we spent all day tweeting.

We’re only kidding. Mostly. We’re definitely not the type of old fossils that believe that all style and design took a turn for the lame in the past few decades. We appreciate forward-thinking; we like being excited by newness and creativity. But sometimes what seems new and unique is actually quite old, and much of the time, we don’t even realize it. Since our memories are so short-term, we might be able to get away with passing something incredibly old off as something thoroughly game-changing. Something like… hand-drawing logos. Ha, ha! No one alive is old enough to remember when anyone actually did that!

Going backwards to move forwards.

In this case, hand-lettering is quite obviously an old art form; we’ve been doing it considerably longer than we’ve been messing with Adobe programs. But at the same time, we’ve been relying upon prefabrication and templates and digital designs for so long that actual hand drawings seem more than just quaint; they’re almost revolutionary.

Every brand logo will eventually need rejuvenation. Consumers will inevitably experience fatigue when they’re exposed to the same design avalanche for too long, and your revenue could suffer. While logo design could be needed if your market response has stagnated, it might only the first step to a necessary branding refresh. Naturally, you are going to need to determine what your target consumers find attractive through considerable market research, but incorporating an unpretentious design concept into your overall aesthetic could be a comforting change.

Will your brand support something hand-drawn?

It probably will. To use an extremely clichéd phrase – think outside the box. It’s all a matter of execution. We realize that you’ve probably seen horribly designed logos that were meant to appear handwritten, but we certainly don’t want to encourage you to take on the aesthetic of a third-tier cosmetics company. Just like any design concept, there are horrible examples as well as fantastic examples. We only endorse the fantastic.

What is your brand identity? Chances are, a well-realized, hand-drawn logo design will help you to communicate it. Hand-drawn, folksy graphics aren’t just for premium chocolates and artisanal cheeses. Think about how having a human touch might benefit your brand if your business – let’s say you’re an investment firm – relies upon trust and one-on-one interaction. Practically every financial institution has a blocky, dark, aggressively grown-up, and stolid badge strategy. Clearly, such organizations want to give their clients the impression of rock-solidity. But what these strategies don’t really offer a huge amount of warmth. It would be extremely interesting to see a bank brand logo that incorporated a personal element. Now, just because something is lettered by hand doesn’t mean it has to be fussy; it can be bold and aggressive, too.

When it comes to your logo design, you might be tempted to use a hideous, crowd-sourced design firm, or some software you’ve been messing with, but we’d like to encourage you to think about what a unique hand-drawn aesthetic might add to your badge and to your brand. Since we seem to be moving ever-so-slightly away from the flat design trend of a couple of years ago, it might be time for something just a tinge more baroque. Something earthy. Something that looks as though it was produced by a human being and not our android overlords.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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