This is why design work should be left to professionals

This is what I get for twittering snarky things about the new Birmingham logo. A friend at challenged me to critique the new design. First, let me say for the record I have no opinion about the name change, the wisdom of changing the name, etc. In my business, of course, change is good. 🙂

Here is a link to the graphic in question. The caption mentions that the Mayor of Birmingham, Larry Langford, designed it.

And here’s my opinion(s) about why he should have paid someone, I don’t know, $45 an hour? – to design it instead. I’m trying to keep it to objective reasons, not subjective ones. IOW, type styles, colors, and a lot of things about logo design are a matter of taste. I’m talking about reasons the logo fails that are practical.

  • First, the mayor presumably is worth more to the city than $45 an hour (let’s get that out of the way first).
  • contains a literal-looking outline of an aircraft and the city skyline. What happens when the city skyline changes?
  • logo is impossible to embroider.
  • logo is impossible to print on promotional goods such as mugs, letter openers, kazoos, etc. because of fine lines, excessive detail, etc. Any of my vendors would hand it back to me and require that I simplify it into oblivion. You wouldn’t recognize it after we got through with it (i.e. we’d have to wash it through a professional designer). To be fair, I have a few products I could put it on, but the range is severely limited.
  • logo would require some reworking even to look nice in a one-color (black on white only) version.
  • logo is impossible to print (even commercial printing on paper) smaller than the size of a half-dollar and have the type be legible, without reproportioning the type.

That’s just a few. I said I’d do this post in five minutes and I’m already missing my deadline.

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6 thoughts on “This is why design work should be left to professionals”

  1. worse than all that… it looks awful at an angle and probably causes a NTSC signal to jump on television. The line art is impossibly intricate and jittery. And what an awful color to represent the city, let alone the airport. Guess we should be happy that the plane was not emerging from a top hat (ugh!) with a wand for good measure.

  2. Curtis – I don’t disagree, and if it causes an NTSC signal to foul up, there’s another good technical reason to dislike it. Of course, Johnny Carson used to wear checked/houndstooth black and white jackets… I was restricting myself to “known issues” that I deal with every day in my business. Call it wish fulfillment – I’ve always wanted to tell a customer this kind of stuff to their face. 🙂

  3. Great critique. You did a good job at analyzing the way the logo will be used and if it would work or not.

    From the view of someone that is not a designer – Logos are doodles and are easy to “draw up” – as the mayor obviously displays here, BUT sometimes it’s easy to get lost in our “ideas” for a logo and forget that it will have to be used on a variety of media.

    Most logo developers know that on some level, the logo will have to be versatile. Meaning, it will more than likely be used on something other than a 24″ x 30″ poster (as LaLa is holding). He should really stick to his guns and let us designers handle the “doodling”.

    New reader to the blog, by the way. Love it.

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