One simple logo layout features a symbol of some sort with text centered underneath. It's a tried and true formula that can produce some really nice logos. Consider our new Clearly Sharp logo:
The drop-blade symbol is presented minimally, and is underscored with a clean, modern typeface. But is that all there is to it?
One of the first lessons I learned in graphic design was to make no arbitrary decisions. Or in other words, always have a reason behind every factor of your design.
To illustrate, Here's the clearly sharp logo again, thrown together in a few minutes, with arbitrary decision making:
It feels... off... doesn't it? Why is that?
That feeling is due to a few factors: 1) The proportions are bad, 2) It's poorly centered, 3) The symbol and the text aren't coordinated in a number of ways (as we will see).
Here's how I turned the Clearly Sharp logo into a cohesive whole:
First, Golden Ratio:
You may have heard of the golden ratio. It's the graphic designer's tried-and-true magic equation for good proportions.
The basic idea is: when you want to display two objects (i.e. symbol and text) with some contrast between them, scale up one of the objects by the golden ratio (roughly 1.618).
I'm sure there's a delightful science lesson behind why our brains like this ratio; that can wait for another time. For now, all you need to know is that it consistently “feels right.”
Second, Characteristic Matching:
A common problem with symbol + text logos is a lack of unity between the symbol and the text. The solution? Look for small ways to match characteristics between the two. The most common characteristics I consider matching are widths and angles.
This is make no arbitrary decisions in action. When designing the drop blade symbol, I wasn't going to use any old angle for the "pinch" at the top. Rather, I took the angle from the "A" directly beneath it. And when selecting widths for the blade edge, I wasn't going to use any old widths. Rather, I took specific widths from the text.
All of this makes for a cohesive logo where text and symbol can feel at home with one another.