Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Red Balloon's New Logo

I'm known to grouse from time to time about bad designs, particularly logos. So it's nice to have something nice to say for once.

My favorite children's bookstore, Red Balloon book shop on St. Paul's Grand Avenue, recently changed hands and the new owners must have thought it was time to update the logo, which was designed by illustrator Warren Hansen around 1980.

It's a classic logo, referring to a style made popular by early 20th century publishers, but the type, particularly, wasn't aging well.

The new logo is definitely fresh and, particularly in the application of the shop's new bookmark where I first saw it, I was wowed.

I love the simplicity of the front, with the address info set sideways to serve as a string, and I just as much love the repeating pattern on the back. It's probably the best free bookmark I've ever gotten from a bookstore. Fun, clean, zippy -- it makes me want to go buy some books!

But I can't be 100 percent positive, can I?

The longer I looked at it, the more I wished that the Red Balloon name, reversed out of the large balloon on the front, had been set in a somewhat heavier weight of type, so that it wouldn't disappear into the red. It's even more obvious on the back, where the balloons have been scaled down substantially and the type is tiny.

And when I went to check out the store's website to see how they're using the logo there, I found this:

Which is okay, but not as elegant as the single balloon with the type on it. I understand the need to get the name larger, of course, but I'm not sure this solution was the best way around that. The clouds feel tacked on, and using the "l" as a string seems a bit forced. Having the two "l"s at different heights makes them hard to read at a glance.

And then there's the version they're using as a Twitter icon:

This is clearly misbegotten. The clouds don't belong on the balloon, and the balloon doesn't need a balloon on it, either -- why can't the icon be the same as the usage on the bookmark (with slightly heavier type)?

So, I guess that's a B+ for the Red Balloon redesign. But I do love that bookmark.

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