So I have a personal logo that I have recently design, a monogram based on the initials J and S using the Caslon typeface. I am a graphic designer and web developer, and I am going for a professional, timeless look that doesn't follow trends and values usefulness and the bigger picture over unnecessary details. Could anyone give me their critique of this logo? Thank you!

enter image description here

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    First impression: very capitalistic! – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 3 '18 at 0:35
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Is that a good thing for what I'm going for? – jstowell May 3 '18 at 0:38
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    That depends entirely on what you’re going for; you haven’t told us that. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 3 '18 at 0:39
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    That doesn’t really say anything about what you’re trying to portray with your logo. With your edit just now, we have a better idea. (The reason I immediately thought capitalist, if it wasn’t clear, is that it looks a lot like a dollar $ign.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 3 '18 at 0:43
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    Hi jstowell, thanks for your question. Critique questions are a bit of a weird fit here, because they don't always match with our intended Q&A format. Please have a peek at our guidelines for critique questions and see whether you can make yours fit those. Thanks! – Vincent May 3 '18 at 10:53

I agree with @user287001's answer that after a quick image search, I found very similar results to yours. You mentioned "timeless" as part of your image and I think using a serif font like Caslon was effective. And you kept it simple, which is always good design. It's great you're asking for critique!

Here are just some suggestions:

My name also begins with a 'J' so I also understand playing around with the letter can be quite interesting. At least with an 'S', you have possibilities to tinker with the descender of the 'J' and the spur/spine of the 'S' (if that sounded confusing, here is a visual guide of the anatomy of a character). Essentially, with J's and S's, I've seen very creative monograms being manipulated with those parts of the letters.

Also, if you haven't yet, I would:

  1. Look at resources like Dribbble and Behance, especially the feedback there.
  2. Play around with different typefaces, sizes, negative space, color, rotation.
  3. Add a third shape or letter, maybe incorporate a symbol? (if necessary and that's not too literal, as @user287001 suggested)

These two articles help me a lot during my own process. Hopefully they'll be of some use for you as well:

31 Techniques for Creative Two-Letter Logos and 4 Essential Rules of Effective Logo Design

  • Do you think that using a didone typface rather than an old-style one might work more effectively? – jstowell May 3 '18 at 2:55
  • Perhaps. Didone has a high contrast of line thickness. I would use it if you personally believe it fits what you're going for. You'll have to do a lot of experimenting. – Jennifer May 3 '18 at 3:07
  • Yes, I have actually done a LOT of experimenting with personal logos over the last few years, and this has been my best so far. Any suggestions for how I can use negative space or any of the other ideas you had? I want to keep it simple and memorable, nothing fancy, no special meanings. WYSIWYG while still being elegant. I'm not a fan of trends at ALL. Everyone uses them, it's rare there is originality in their use, and they fade away (unlike the time-tested techniques of those such as Saul Bass and Massimo Vignelli, as well as typefaces like the one which I used). – jstowell May 3 '18 at 3:24
  • I'm definitely not a fan of trends either so I can understand why you're against them. Bass and Vignelli, even Paul Rand's designs I am, too. Have you looked at monograms of many fashion brands? Or what your thoughts are on them? They may be the timeless, black and white look you're going for to study up on. – Jennifer May 3 '18 at 23:43
  • Yes, I got the inspiration for this from the logos of Louis Vuitton, Gucci (GG logo), Calvin Klein, and a few others. – jstowell May 4 '18 at 0:10

If this is your final logo, Gestalt is always useful. It looks that you center both characters on the S vertical axis, this provide many unequal or disproportionate optical blank spaces. A good practice to fix it is to see the logo upside-down. This is just for formal aspects.

Remember Caslon font was one of the first typography constructed over a grid, maybe you should put both character on a grid to fix proportions.

blank spaces upsidedown

  • This is not my final draft , it's just s representation of what I want it to look like in the end. Thanks for the tip! – jstowell May 3 '18 at 15:36
  • How might I use the grid? I have no experience using them. – jstowell May 3 '18 at 18:21
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    There are many resources on internet: Google – "roman character construction grid". This link is just an example: i.pinimg.com/originals/6b/a4/8b/… You should adapt the grid to the result you want to get with your logo. – user120647 May 3 '18 at 19:04

Image search for JS and SJ give so many resembling versions that you should seriously consider to add a third shape, which is unique. Exact match is not yet found, but S and J at the same place, only vertically shifted =yes.

ADD due a comment:

A massive third element can make it unique. An example:

enter image description here

I believe this isn't of your style. This shows only the size what I mean.

Another possiblity: Give to the letters some non-obvious apparent geometric space placements, maybe actually impossible or false. Then you do not need extras. Here's a geometrically possible example and one impossible, too:

enter image description here

  • Any suggestions for making it more unique? – jstowell May 3 '18 at 1:04
  • @jstowell As I wrote, add a third element which is as much as your JS. I added an example. It will probably be a downvote magnet, which pushes the answer to invisibility. – user287001 May 3 '18 at 11:14
  • I really see what you mean now. Side-note: The second one looks like the 49ers logo. – jstowell May 3 '18 at 17:39
  • @jstowell 49ers from SF? Yes, they have some 3D projection.. Or was it some other 49ers than the football team? – user287001 May 3 '18 at 18:26
  • San Fransisco 49ers – jstowell May 3 '18 at 18:28

Though I don't find for the most part that logos need to communicate explicitly the area of expertise of the firm, it can be helpful for smaller groups, technical or design groups - have you considered intersecting the logotype idea with your area of expertise?

Quick throwaway idea - still captures JS and adds a layer of reference to coding; I've not put any effort into proportionality, whitespace equivalence, optical balance etc - just a concept sketch.

enter image description here

I also agree with the comment above about a unifying element - so another approach might be to take the classic typography you have and combine it with a clean, contemporary geometric element, and thus develop something which is truly timeless as it doesn't look like an attempt to just look "classic", which is a risk with a serif-heavy typographic monogram.

As with my other quickie, this is not intended as a serious design effort - just a directional spark to get other ideation flowing.

enter image description here

Or even a variant where you play with the J to S relationship to break the obvious "$" reference.

enter image description here

I think you need some basic ideation still, is my point.

Good luck - hope everyone's thinking helps!

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    The S is a bit hard to distinguish, and when I do notice it... it reminds me a lot of a swastika - which I don't think was your intention. – WELZ May 3 '18 at 16:01
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    @WELZ - totally agreed. My point was to reorient OP given that, as already mentioned by several other far more competent responses than mine, typographic "timeless" JS monogram logos actually abound out there, so I'm suggesting OP consider combining typographic and conceptual in some heretofore unforseen manner to end up with a clearly unique marque. This was not a bona fide design attempt mate - more of a shove to reconceptualise! – GerardFalla May 3 '18 at 17:37

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