Now that the logo design contest is over, I guess I can finally post my thoughts and explain the process on how my entry for the UWCCF logo came into existence. Originally, I had this huge writeup that I sent along with my submission that detailed every little thing that could be read into the design. On retrospect, and since having heard it read out loud, I’ve decided to revise my intended post.
So I’ve mentioned a lot of times before that I design in type. One of the first things that I knew I wanted to try out was the concept of type pairing. I was playing around with the idea of contrasting the formal air of academia and the friendliness of fellowship and I also really wanted to try and emulate the type pairing that Waterloo does on all of it’s publications (which is all explained in the recently released style guide). However, the two had to remain linked. My choice ended up being FF Scala and FF Scala Sans.
I felt that the logo was a bit sparse with just the text. With my previous stuff, I usually manipulated a letter in some way to keep it from just being plain text, but this time, I couldn’t come up with anything to tweak. The other reason I felt that I couldn’t just leave it as text was because I had a suspicion that the text under the acronym wouldn’t scale too well at small sizes. Because of this, I needed to add a picture.
The cross loopy thing was definitely the hardest part of the entire design. The problem with coming up with a picture is that what we were supposed to design for was too vague. Consider “UWCCF”. There are basically three things that gave me anything to work with from that name: Univeristy of Waterloo, Chinese, and Christian.
The problem with putting Chinese elements into the logo was that UWCCF spoke English, as opposed to MCCF or CCCF. Pretty much the only thing Chinese about English CCF was that most of us are Chinese. We don’t seek to attract Chinese speaking people because we probably can’t speak Chinese. That means we want to attract people who speak English, and not all of those people speak Chinese. And so, there’s no point of putting anything Chinesey in.
The problem with Christian is that I really, really do not like to throw crosses or that fish into stuff just because it’s a Christian thing. It’s one of my pet peeves. There are more creative and clever ways to work in Christian themes without having to stick a cross or fish in. What you’re trying to communicate about the organization through the logo should be more substantial than HAY WE R CHRISTIAN.
Of course, you’ll notice that I gave up and stuck a cross in. Of course, I didn’t just go and plonk the thing to the side, or overlay it. I tied it into the last aspect, the university. Trying to come up with something for the university was hard too. You can’t just choose a faculty, because that’ll alienate everyone else. Waterloo doesn’t have too many universal symbols that could be incorporated easily into a logo.
The thing that I used to represent Waterloo was Ring Road. The thing that most of my not-Waterloo friends tell me about my campus the most is that it’s a giant ring. And it’s true, Ring Road is a distinctive geographical feature that’s unique to our campus. Pretty much every Waterloo student has seen it in some form, but not enough that it immediately sticks out when used off a map.
The nice thing about Ring Road is that it represents the university both symbolically and spatially. The cross superimposed across the image of our campus communicates a fairly powerful message about UWCCF’s mission. With the addition of the ring, suddenly, the logo doesn’t just say CHRISTIANS ARE HERE, but it shows our intention to impact the entire campus.
Everything up until this point has been designed as a black and white thing. This is something I always try to do, because the reality is that whatever I design will almost always never be printed in colour. Even truer is the fact that it will likely be printed on a photocopier, making anything but black and white look like garbage. And on the offchance that whatever I’m printing will be printed inverted, then I’d need to make sure that the colour I chose was visible on both dark and light backgrounds.
But, at this point, I still add a colour: yellow. There are a few important reasons why yellow adds to the logo. The first is that Waterloo’s colours are black and gold. The second element that yellow adds is light. Everything having to do with CCF and Christ is coloured yellow, while the university gets black or white. I’d done this with the idea of light of the world in mind. And the last bit it adds is that yellow is LOL AZN. Yes, I managed to sneak it in without being explicit about it.
The most interesting thing about so many of these things is that many of them aren’t deliberate and simply show up and follow logically from the stuff that I knew I was trying to incorporate. I’d say about half of the things I’ve mentioned were things I actively tried to work in, while the other half are things that seemed to just show up. Either that, or I just like to read into these things a bit too much.