Case Studies – The Real Source for Logo & Brand Identity Inspiration

logo inspirations with reasoning

Need Inspiration?

Inspiration comes from all around us. There is no ONE and only way. This post focuses on the limited reliance on using logo inspiration galleries for your main source of inspiration. We will look at the written word, in the form of case studies, as a healthier alternative.

Dont Drool Over Eye Candy

When you need a healthy shot of inspiration in the veins, don’t get caught up with the seemingly endless variety of logo and design inspiration galleries. So much focus is placed on these sites, that we seem to assume these are the only places to get current inspiration. This is far from the truth. These galleries offer a very limited perspective on design, usually just surface eye candy. Inspiration comes not just from pretty colours, but the reason why those ‘pretty colours’ were used.

It’s all about context. Logo design galleries don’t offer this essential ingredient, ‘in context‘. They are out of context, and this can be very misleading, especially for the less experienced amongst us. It is also can make a logo look like alost soul if it’s placed out of context. Some logos need to be seen in situ, in the environment for which it was designed. Not just a gallery, sitting idly on its own.

I should note here that the one exception to the above. ‘Fresh Logo Inspiration’. Deron Sizemore has done a great job of allowing designers to add ‘context’ the the submitted logo designs. One should not underestimate the value of this feature in a logo inspiration site. It helps us understand the ‘whys’ of a particular design, rather than just seeing ‘pretty colours and shapes’. I reviewed LogoGala here on IJC : Review – Logo Design Inspiration and Information

Read Case Studies – Read Books

In my most humble opinion, use these galleries wisely. Appreciate them for what they are, but don’t rely on them. If you really want the low down on why people design logos and brand identities, then the answer is this, read.

Read and soak it up.

Case studies give the insight needed to fully understand and appreciate a certain design. They make you see the challenges faced, the thought processes involved, the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’. Why was that colour used? Why was that typeface used? What is the hidden meaning for this logo? All these questions and more are usually answered.

This is the only real way to fully understand the process involved to create meaningful logo and identity designs. Also you are reading. Reading is good. Preferably read a book, rather than online. Make it part of the working day. It is research, it is like being home schooled and the tutor being the designer you have always aspired to be. You are learning from the best, you are gathering valuable knowledge only available in that publication.

What Case Studies?

I am often asked, which case studies have I recently read and where. The simple answer to the latter is that I just shop around, mostly on Amazon for new logo and identity books, books that feature case studies opposed to just pictures. I don’t really mind what case study it is, they all offer valuable insight. Don’t be fooled by the company being studied, it may not sound interesting at first glance, but I can assure you that once you start reading the process involved, you will be hooked. You will be wanting more. 

Some recent studies I have read involve the redesign for the Bank of New York, DKNY, Burton Snowboards, Brains Brewing, AOL. The reality is, for every major brand, there is a case study somewhere to be found and read.

7 Recent Books with Case Studies

These are books that I refer to from time-to-time, or have recently purchased. These have various doses of case studies. I will add that both volumes Logo Design by Taschen, have some very interesting studies, and are very well written, almost like a novel. LogoCritiques, maintained by Erik Peterson, recently reviewed Logo Design Vol 2.

And no self respecting designer should be without Identity Crisis by Jeff Fisher.

  1. Logo Design – Vol 1 – Publisher : Taschen
  2. Logo Design – Vol 2 – Publisher : Taschen
  3. Logo Lounge – Vol 3 – Publisher : RockPort
  4. Designing Matters, Logos – Publisher : RockPort
  5. Logo Savvy – Publisher : RockPort
  6. Identity Crisis – Author : Jeff Fisher
  7. Designing Brand Identity – Publisher : Wiley

Say what again?

In conclusion, it is simple. If you want to have a deeper understanding of logo and brand identity, if you seek knowledge and not just ‘pretty pictures’, if you are a knowledge seeker, then read case studies. Keep reading. Make it part of the work routine, daily or least weekly. The reality is reading one case study can take just a small fraction of the working day. And is a better use of time than looking at ‘pretty pictures’ as a main source of inspiration.

My new post series called I Want The Bestest Logo You Have Designed – Ever is my own way for people to explain the process and reasoning behind their own favorite logo designs.


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Finally, if you do need any kind of logo and brand identity design, then take a peek at my home page for further information on how to hire me, contact details and prices.


Written by: Graham Smith: The Logo Smith
1st Posted: 2009/07/01 & Post Updated: 2014/05/09
Filed In Categories: Books, Brand Identity, Inspiration, Opinion

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