Creating A Bookshop Logo | Part 1

Our final project was a self directed project, basically we could do whatever we wanted. I decided to design the logo for a bookshop because out of all the projects we did over the year I found the corporate identity ones to be most enjoyable. Also books.

One thing I really wanted to learn from this project was if bookshops really needed a book in their logo. Almost all independent bookshops have some sort of book or page motif. But when you look at the larger bookshops (Waterstones, Foyles, Borders etc) they don’t. These larger bookshops don’t have a logo at all. Their ‘logo’ is just the name (there is a proper name for this but I forget it). Now the interesting thing I want to know is it because those names are so well known they don’t need a logo to show what type of shop it is, or are books in logos a really cliched thing to have. I don’t know and I’ve probably spent way too much time thinking about this.

The brief for this project (which I wrote myself) was to create the branding for a bookshop specialising in science-fiction and fantasy. I decided the shop would be called The Martian Chronicles (hope Ray Bradbury is okay with that). I basically decided it was going to be a Forbidden Planet type place but with more books. I actually put an address on the bookmarks (which you will see later) and that address is where Forbidden Planet is in Glasgow.

So I started out this project by doing some research, and when I say research I mean I walked around Waterstones for a while. This was mostly just to look at the branding in store and any interesting little bits I could make so my bookshop would feel more like a bookshop. One thing I found from this is that everything is very handmade. As you can probably see the window displays are full of handwritten signs and recycled book pages. Most of the signage in store is handwritten, they even had a display for Me Before You complete with a box of tissues.

One thing I found while researching is that James Daunt who took over Waterstones in 2011 gave each store more freeway in what they stock and how they decorate. This means that while you have some official Waterstones branding you also have displays that are made by the people working in the shop.

I also found out that the Waterstones in Sauchiehall street used to be a cinema which would explain the size (this has nothing to do with the project I just thought it was interesting).

After that I did more research on the computer. I looked at various bookshop logos and how they were displayed in store. I was also really lucky to come across a blog post from venturethree who did Waterstones ‘Feel Every Word’ campaign from a few years ago and they had lots of images from that. It’s really interesting, Waterstones have since rebranded again but you can still go into stores and find posters from that old campaign (at least there are still ones up at the shop in Glasgow).

One thing I knew very on was that this logo would have something to do with space. I mean it’s a shop selling sci-fi books and it’s named after a sci-fi book so there had to be some sort of space age imagery in the logo. So I looked at Atomic Age Design (I only learned the name of this movement during this project), this was a design movement from the 40s and 50s and was heavily inspired by the Cold War and the space race. The imagery was heavily influenced by scientific discoveries of the time, it featured geometric atomic particles, skeletal shapes because of the more widespread use of x-rays and organic shapes similar to what cells would look like under the microscope.

The Atomic Age is something I’ve been fascinated with for a long time, I always associate it with Tomorrowland from the Disney parks. It’s an idea of what the future might look like from an earlier era.

I really like designing logos because it’s mostly just doodling shapes. I spent a day just drawing space stuff and by the end of it had a few shapes I liked enough to take onto the computer. I had thought about doing something with orbits but it wasn’t that recognisable so eventually went with my little alien space ship. It was one of the first things I drew and I’m still a little in love with it.

Normally I would use the Image Trace function in Illustrator to turn my drawing into a vector but I wanted this logo to be more professional (a hand drawn logo might give the idea of a more ‘fun’ shop). Not that the shop wouldn’t be fun, but to me science gives the idea of modern straight edges and that was something I wanted to get over through the logo. So I used my drawing as a basis and recreated it in Illustrator making sure it was even and symmetrical.

Finding a nice font and layout with the text and logo took a long time. Being a student makes it really difficult to find a nice font because you really don’t want to go buying any fonts (cause they be expensive), so you’re limited to the fonts already in Illustrator or whatever you can find for free. You can get really nice fonts for free the problem is actually finding them among the many many thousands of other fonts. Copyright is always an issue as well, not so much for this as it won’t be used commercially, but it’s still something you need to think about.

Just an interesting little aside here. One font I tried to use was called Lemon/ Milk. It’s a really nice font you can get it for free on DaFont, I’ve used it in a couple of projects. But when I tried it for this logo something didn’t look right. I couldn’t work out what it was. Then I realised this font looked similar to the font used in Star Trek Voyager. As soon as I realised that I knew I couldn’t use it, even though I loved the font it didn’t look right because my brain associated it with Star Trek.

I was actually really happy with my final logo. It’s a little alien space ship. It’s cute. And it’s immediately recognisable as an alien space ship. I like the fonts I used. I think it was a good idea to find a thin font to contrast with the thick lines in the logo and it stands out next to the name of the shop. The only thing I wonder about is should the shop really be *The* Martian Chronicles. I don’t know of many shops that start with ‘The‘ but then again the name of the shop is secondary to designing the logo. The only reason I had to pick a name is it gives you an idea of what the shop is like which then goes on to influence the overall design of the branding.

Continue on to part two where I show how I applied my finished logo to various medias.

Thanks for reading.
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