Behind the OnDesign Logo

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Joe Marianek, Pentagram.
Joe Marianek, Pentagram.
When I started on the assignment to create a logo for OnDesign, I hesitated. As a patron of many online design rags, I have always managed to avoid the trouble of considering a blog's logo; the typeface, color and gimmicks usually escape me and feel invisible. Though, don't get me wrong. In fact, I tacitly enjoy the familiar reassuring presence of blog identities so much so, I hate and avoid the inhumane RSS reader.

The lack of convention in design blog graphics is inspiring, from the Coudal Partners doohickey, Design Observer's Gotham uniform and the endless re-invention of Very Short List to the blunt slab-serif of Brand New. The common element is that each is dually charming and unobtrusive.

I began the design process for the OnDesign logo by indoctrinating myself in Creativity's magazine guidelines created at Pentagram by Michael Bierut and Armin Vit. While there were many ways to interpret and extend these guidelines, color and typographic palettes were well established.

There's a reason that guidelines exist to protect the integrity of an institution so that people like me don't come along and create insurgent motifs with our "ideas." Regardless, I proposed many radical ideas, which were (smartly) sidestepped by the Creativity staff, including a lozenge, malleable background, tiny flush-right type, candy colors, illegible geometric letters, boring Futura, eight goofy fonts. (Check out the other designs below--which one's your favorite?)

Taste aside, none of these seemed right.

In the end, Creativity choose a sober, light-handed and pleasant solution; "blocks," which will work hard to remain pleasant and inoffensive at the top of the screen to readers who frequent us on a daily basis.

Moreover, it will work as a constant and neutral signifier for all flavors of design coverage, which is what OnDesign is all about.


Joe Marianek is a designer at Pentagram and teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
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