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I'm designing a logo for a new company that will build plastic manufacturing machinery - a fairly small-sized low-tech industry where stability, solid engineering, and even country of manufacturer is of elevated importance.

The logo will go on a range of sizes: from small scale, like business cards, to logos imprinted on the machinery, to digital, to a sign on a building.

Features in order of importance:

  1. Giving a feeling of solid and well-engineered product
  2. Modern - yes, but not new, hip and startupy
  3. Canadian (red/white) but not in-your-face-Canadian. Not a deal breaker

Variations

This would go on business cards, official company correspondence:

Business cards, letter heads

This would go on signs, machinery:

machinery, building sign

This would be a standalone logo where otherwise the name of the company is known or implied by the context:

enter image description here

Questions:

1) Is the first square logo too "busy"? How can it be improved?

2) Does the wide logo read "RONOPLAST" and the first T is ignored? How can this be improved with hopefully retaining the red/white combination?

EDIT: I used an additional method to answer question (2) using 5-second-test on usabilityhub: 9/10 got the T; the 1 didn't remember the entire name at all.

EDIT 2 - Final output

Thank you, everyone, for very useful suggestions. I wish I could mark more than 1 accepted answer. I implemented the following:

  1. Kerning
  2. Font change to Futura Bold (this is much better and it fixed the ugly R of Arial)
  3. Made minor changes to letter T and L
  4. Placed T vertically centered to make it more symmetrical with the square.
  5. Made the rest of the letters slightly smaller than T to make T stand out.
  6. Changed black to 95% gray.

Some features of T were purposefully left slightly off symmetry/pattern - it makes it stand out.

The outcome:

enter image description here

And the spacing:

enter image description here

  • On my display, the first logo seems to be a rather different shade of red than the second. Is this intentional? – Kevin Dec 30 '14 at 4:16
  • @Kevin, no... probably some conversion artifact. – New Dev Dec 30 '14 at 4:35
  • Nicely done! Subtle changes, but adds up to a much stronger visual impression. Futura is the much better choice. Love that S. :) – Dɑvïd Dec 31 '14 at 11:09
  • I think you could still test if the image would look better if the height of the missing square part was as wide as the Y horizontal bar OR make the T as wide as the matrix element. Looks good, a bit generic but tahts what you get trying to be conservative. – joojaa Dec 31 '14 at 12:21
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I think the square in the first use is a little busy -- I'd at least try how it looks without the cutout in the bottom right, or without the small square on the bottom right, or with neither, even if just to be sure that you prefer what you already have. (For consistency, you'll have to change them all, of course.)

About the type, I think that bears more attention. I strongly recommend against Arial in all contexts, partly because it's not a great font, partly because everyone has seen it everywhere, it makes things look generic. In this context I think you want something "solider" -- Arial has more variation in stroke widths than you want, and particularly that diagonal on the R is not the look you want. I don't have samples in front of me, but you might want to look at Futura bold (a little retro, but Futura is a gem), Gothic or Trade Gothic (probably not Franklin Gothic, too much weight variation in the strokes) or anything along those lines.

The weight variation in the capital T really shows up in the big square. Even if you choose a font which has that variation, I'd look into hand-tuning the T in the square so the horizontal and vertical of the T are the same width, and the same width as the space above the T.

Have you though about what happens if there's an application where you need a black and white version?

All that said, it's a lovely strong look. You may already be there, and if not you're very close.

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I'm not personally a fan of the "R". It really just looks like a bastardized P to me. But I realize that is probably simply the font you've chosen. Actually reworking the R would go a long way in my eyes.

As for the first square: I don't think it's too busy. But I would adjust kerning for the "Plast" section if possible. The P & L, and S & T create space on that side and open things up a bit. This makes the right side feel "loose" where none of the other sides do.

As for the horizontal: Yes. The T is lost. To counteract that you might think about reducing the black type and centering it vertically with the T. If the T and it's square is larger, it will provide more visual balance with the heavier, black, type.

  • I agree with the kerning, sticks in my eye. – joojaa Dec 29 '14 at 21:54
  • Scott, @joojaa, does "adjust the kerning" mean to make the spacing between letters uniform, or does it mean to reduce the spacing to match the "TRONO" section? Also, can you clarify whether the kerning is only a problem in the square or also in the wide logo? – New Dev Dec 29 '14 at 22:53
  • I hate the R too. It's unfortunately from Arial Black - I'm hesitant to change individual letters since the font might be used in non-logo cases. I'll see if there is a better font. – New Dev Dec 29 '14 at 22:55
  • Kerning is the space between two characters. A good logo looks at the visual weight of the characters as well as the space between them. There are areas in the black text where kerning could be addressed to help create a more "solid" mark. Searching this site for "kerning" will present other questions, such as this one which may provide some insight into kerning. – Scott Dec 29 '14 at 22:57
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    A "logo" never has to be a "font". A logo, once designed is art not type. There should rarely, if ever, be a concern that a logo won't match some font somewhere. Yu are just restricting your creativity from the start with that thought process. And choosing Arial.. well.. that's just something I'd never do. :) I think it's an ugly font overall. – Scott Dec 29 '14 at 22:59
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I like it, fwiw! Comments:

1) Is the first square logo too "busy"? How can it be improved?

Not too busy for my tastes, but the mismatch between the lower-right "cut-out" and the red band over the T crossbar catches my eye. I find myself wanting some symmetry here:

explanatory mockup

(1) shows the "problem" with the blue boxes; (2) is the current "standalone" logo. In (3), the full-stop/cut-out and the top red band have the same vertical height, and the left side of the block is also extended to maintain the square (which otherwise is of arbitrary dimensions?). (4) gives the resulting "standalone" logo. But now the precarious hovering of the red rectangle at the right of the T seems more pronounced. So (5) came to mind: bringing in the "full-stop/cut-out" into the lower right corner butresses the tippy rectangle (aiming at "solidity"), and perhaps also gives more cohesion with the full "named" version.

2) Does the wide logo read "RONOPLAST" and the first T is ignored? How can this be improved with hopefully retaining the red/white combination?

Others have commented on kerning. For me, the stark black is too ... stark. What about knocking it back to 90% or 80%? The full black seems to stand apart too sharply from the red, to my eye.

On the whole, though, very strong logo. Hope these comments provide some useful stimulus.

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    Thanks for the feedback. Re: (3) - not arbitrary dimensions - the "missing" square is 1/25 in area of the big square. I tried to make the T be symmetrical, but it either "breaks" the 1:5 length ratio of the squares, or forces the T to become shorter and bulkier. I love the (5) idea - I was wondering about what to do with the "missing" square in a standalone logo – New Dev Dec 30 '14 at 13:58
  • @NewDev Thanks for update on the block dimensions - I did wonder, thus my question mark. When I was playing with the little square, I got a sense for the dimensions you were trying to balance. Tough one! As others suggest, a different font or hand-drawn T might get you the refinement you're after. In any case, I'm sure Tronoplast will be pleased with the final result. :) – Dɑvïd Dec 30 '14 at 14:20
  • @NewDev and given the 1:5 ratio, the simplest thing of course is simply to exploit the 5x5 grid. I assume you've considered and rejected that possibility, though. Too "blocky"? – Dɑvïd Dec 30 '14 at 15:20
  • exactly - the T becomes too blocky. I'll play more with it and potentially abandon the 5x5 grid idea in favor of symmetry – New Dev Dec 30 '14 at 15:26
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I like the design and branding a lot.

1) Is the first square logo too "busy"? How can it be improved?

I don't think it's too busy.

2) Does the wide logo read "RONOPLAST" and the first T is ignored? How can this be improved with hopefully retaining the red/white combination?

I didn't even notice this until you asked but yes to some degree it is ignored, I'm not sure it makes a huge difference though. You could repeat the T as the symbol and in the text which is how you approached it in the square logo (image 1). But then some may see it is TTRONOPLAST so neither solution is ideal, it's a matter of which is better. I'm inclined to think it is fine as is.

  • Even if it's getting away a little from the red-and-white theme, I'd try making the initial T black; possibly restore a little of the white by experimenting with an outline font. – Magoo Dec 30 '14 at 9:52

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