Insights into logo design

My goal was simple….write a series of blog posts talking about the art and science of logo design and selection.

We got the company LogoInn to donate logo design time.  We ran a contest and the city of Colfax became the lucky recipient of the free logo design…and it went haywire from there!

Which honestly, is a great example of how logo design works.  It isn't always neat and pretty.  Sometimes, it is painful.  And you need to choose a partner who knows the ropes and will stick with you.

If you want to follow the saga, here are the links.

That last post was where things spiraled out of control.  The city of Colfax (and most of my commenting readers) weren't crazy about any of the logos.  So I sent all the critiques back to the logo company and then heard nothing.  I've attempted to e-mail my contact there for several months — but nothing.  (Update…I got an e-mail from them today!)

But I promised the city of Colfax a new logo and dang it, they're going to get one!

So….we decided to run another contest…but this time for designers.  Anyone who wanted to enter a logo could.  The winning logo designer would get s $250 VISA gift card.

Today….I am delighted to tell you we have 23 new logos to examine, discuss and hopefully…decide upon.  7 designers submitted logos.  I am purposefully not identifying the designers at this time…but I will once the winner has been selected.

When viewing and trying to select a new logo for your company/brand, remember these rules:

  • Always view the logos in black and white first.
  • Always view the logos in a relatively small size.  If it doesn't work small — it doesn't work.
  • Always view all logos in relatively the same size, so you are comparing apples to apples.
  • Remember — this is a subjective decision.  Be careful that "committee think" doesn't paralyze you.

To view all 23 logos on the web — click here.

To download a PDF (larger images) of all 23 logos — click here.

Then, come on back here…and let's talk about the designs, the process and how you go about accessing a good logo.  (Please remember…be respectful of the designers who did these — anyone trash talking will be immediately booted.)

23 comments on “Insights into logo design

  1. Jen says:

    These new logos are beautiful! I do tend to worry if the ones with “photographic” images will work when reproduced on t-shirts and on small letterhead when the group uses them in those ways. I tend to enjoy number 13 the most so far. It speaks to the casual elegance the group is looking for and should reproduce well on most items. The one downside is that it may have a slightly feminine feel with the strokes in the drawing. Very nice though!

  2. Jess says:

    #6 has a great iconic feel to it…it should reproduce well on t-shirts, though perhaps best in larger form, and it’s certainly pefect for festival posters and the like.

  3. Heather says:

    My vote is for 3 and 13. They are elegant and simple. Some of the others seem to be a bit too busy for a logo.

  4. Kamy Larkin (formerly Herbst) says:

    what great ideas.. If I could only transpose my own ideas onto paper.
    I think 10 & 14 are very nicely done. If I remember right, the decision makers wanted a gazebo but not if it wasn’t the exact gazebo in town and unfortunately the “spring water” ideas were not working well either. So, I really like that these 2 logo’s removed those all together & went with simple fonts or an all around “warm town” feeling. 10 is simply classic & sometimes less is more, yes? 14 makes me think “modern small town” w/an appreciation of traditional history.
    Did I miss the mention of a street light?
    Again, so really great designs… all very good choices.

  5. Kelly says:


    3, 5, 6, 14. All executed well. Maybe not all completely fresh, but all good for the purpose. Having lived in the area for quite a while, those four are good in context but also forward-thinking enough, too.



  6. Vinnie says:

    I can’t say I love any of the logos. I hate a couple of them. Another couple might be further refined.

  7. Deb says:

    what a story! Makes me realize that I need to be careful what I promise to give away – someone may actually want me to do more work for nothing!

    Okay, I like 6 and 7 because they look like Colfax to me. My uncle lives there and that strip depicted is great.

    But they did ask for a gazebo didn’t they? and something about water? If so – that makes 8 a winner for me.

    I am NOT a designer – but I do know what I like. Does that matter?

    No, probably not. What matters is what the winners wanted.

    Keep us updated!

  8. Free (as I like to call you) —

    Black and white at first is a mandatory for us. We won’t even discuss colors until the client has selected the logo.

    If it doesn’t work in b/w — it doesn’t work.


  9. Jen,

    Logos that are too complex are tough to replicate in a variety of applications — as you suggested. Remember too — these logos will need to get even smaller to work on business cards, lapel pins, etc.

    It will be interesting to see what Colfax chooses.


  10. Jess,

    I worry a bit about the level of detail in #6. How does it reduce down for business cards, etc.?

    But I agree — it has a very strong feel to it.


  11. Heather,

    Interesting choices…and it looks like you prefer the all caps type of font. Is there something specific that appeals to you about that type of font treatment?


  12. Kamy,

    It’s interesting, isn’t it — to see what your eye is drawn to when faced with this many choices.

    What’s nice about the two logos you selected is that they’ll work well in just about every medium. Simple, clean lines often lend themselves to a broader usage.


  13. Kelly,

    Good point. One of the considerations needs to be that the logo will endure over time.

    Ideally, the Colfax folks would not keep changing out their logo but instead — will select one that will be used for many years.


  14. Wow Tonic — that was quite a commercial. Thanks!

  15. Vinnie — Actually — I think several of them are quite good. More important — I think several of them will accomplish Colfax’s goals — which is what really matters.

    But that shows how subjective the process can be. Truth be told — it shouldn’t be about “liking” but it should be about how the logo helps you communicate your brand.


  16. Deb,

    This has been quite the process! But one of the things I wanted people to realize is the difference between the “buy a logo for $200” type places versus working with a graphic artist/designer.

    Compare these logos with the original offerings. Quite a difference.


  17. Heather says:


    I choose to use an old style serif as my font because I associated it with the historic preservation Colfax is trying to portray with their brand. I used the combination of regular and small caps because of the similar spacing and rectilinear shapes it created with the letter forms, which unified the type treatment with a good balance of positive and negative space.

    I understand it is a complex logo with the type treatment and illustration of the Mineral Springs Gazebo that is needed to be used for multiple applications, and the type gets a bit small when the logo is used at one half inch or smaller [Colfax is still 8pt at 1/2in]. However, I think if they are interested in the logo it would be easy to create a typographic mark that could be used in smaller applications. Many companies have horizontal and vertical type treatments, and if used according to style guidelines it can be very successful.

  18. Tyrone says:

    I second that. Viewing the logos in black and white first will generally determine if there really are flaws going on around. Also, the logo is one of the first things that may magnet every consumer before reading any part of a website so it’s that way all important! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Heather —

    What I love about your comment is that it serves as a reminder that this isn’t about “like or dislike” but about reason and purpose.

    Good designers like you have a reason for why they did what they did. A good business/marketing reason.

    It will be interesting to see where the Colfax folks land.


  20. Silvia Azmitia says:

    There is a lot of options here to be tested. Most of them are forgetting one key idea in logo design: The simplicity of the symbol.

    Although they are beautifully designed, most of them are posters instead of logos. You should aim to minimalism as you did in options 1, 10 and 11.

  21. Heather says:

    Perhaps Colfax will share some feedback soon. I’m interested to hear there opinions

  22. Heather,

    They just did…am going to update the post today!


  23. We presented seven different concepts that included gothic script, halos, and tails.

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