Incoherent rambling and inconsequential opinion on design and typography

Logo Love #3

According to their website ‘JD Sports is the leading retailer of branded sportswear and fashionwear.’ Which is all lovely. Personally though, I’ve never bought anything from a JD store (being a ‘sensible shoes’ kind of chap). But sure, if the need arose for me to acquire a pair of over-priced plimsolls, it’d be the first place I’d slouch in to.

JD’s brand identity is very nice though – Cool, shiny and very black. Carefullly placed third-party branding, lots of edgy, moody teenagers with fly-away hair, hoodies and flawless skin. And easily one of the best logos in the high street.

I love the simplicity of the two letters and how the graceful curve of the J initial meets the upright of the D. Perhaps the J is an echo of the shape of a running track? I dunno, but I like to think so. It is a fantastic example of ‘less is more’, how something so simple can be unique, elegant and striking all at once. For me, it embodies everything a great logo should be.

Warning: signs

The UK is full of signs, overflowing in fact. The slightest, most tenuous excuse to chastise people, warn them off, or self-importantly point out the pointless never fails to be disheartening. Has this anything to do with design though? Well yes.

These road signs for example, it’s not quite enough to tell people that they should drive at 20mph or that there’s children about, it’s felt that there should be extra space for a child’s drawing or as in the lower sign, impenetrable sarkiness. What do these additions achieve? Why are they there at all in fact?

The design of a road sign should be to communicate the message in the simplest, clearest and most straight-forward way. Which is why signs don’t say ’20 Miles Per Hour’, or ‘Maximum Speed 20’ and it is why the 20 doesn’t have a drop-shadow, or is typeset in Comic Sans. Anything superfluous is just not doing the job of a road sign and means that it is not functioning as the important, direct piece of communication that they should be.

So road sign people, just stop with the frivolous and the unnecessary. For a reason.

Watch where you’re going

I like finding inspiration in unexpected places. Things that have not necessarily been ‘designed’, but perhaps originated with little thought to aesthetics, impact, consistency or any of those other tiresome ‘brand values’. Such as these small instances of everyday graphic information from all kinds of pavements, paths and roadways.

All of these examples (and I have a lot more, that’s the kind of fun guy I am) have their own charm and resonate in their own way, mainly because of the materials used in their manufacture, the limitations of their given environment and their overriding functionality.

I like the simple ingenuity of the gas cover manufacturer in duplicating two of the three letters and filling the square space. I love the Suprasteel name that, because of the heavy-duty metal it’s reproduced onto, has a kind of sculpted wobblyness that would make a great logotype. And who doesn’t have a sneaking regard for the ‘it’s-not-kerning-it’s-anti-kerning’ on the CATVGI?

So, keep your head down the next time you’re out and about and take a closer look at the ordinary.