Monday, February 25, 2013

Redesigning the Oak Park Together Logo

Please indulge me for a moment: I know this blog is supposed to be all about mobile UX and UI design, but given my roots as a graphic designer, one of my favorite pastimes is to analyze logos.

For some reason, I've been especially fascinated with the logos crafted for our local elections in Oak Park. My belief is, that at a local level, a well-designed logo -- one that accurately reflects the candidate(s) it represents -- can be a powerful visual cue that people will remember on Election Day.

What got me started was getting a flyer from "Oak Park Together" the other day. Here is their logo.


My gut reaction: An "A" for message, but a "B-" in execution. 

"Oak Park Together" is a great party name. For those that don't know the village's history, political parties often rely on some acronym (i.e. VMA) that carries absolutely no message about what the heck the group stands for. So to actually bring positive messaging to the table is a big plus.

Then the tagline: Experience matters. It's not just a catchy phrase but apparently the group it represents really does have plenty of local government experience. More importantly, in two words, it gives you the reason why you should vote for them. Very simple, very straightforward.

And obviously, the use of blue as a "trust" color is also very important as well.

(Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with this group or any other for this local election. I'm just speaking as a designer.)

Unfortunately, the execution muddles the message. The phrase "Oak Park Together" has no visual hierarchy (other than some arbitrary stacking and misalignment), and the lines seem to create division in the logo, not unity. The logo tries to sell you on "togetherness" that is contradicted by the wide letter spacing at the bottom.

Finally, we have the often overused oak leaf logo. Absolutely generic clip art that has no memorable resonance in a village that has seen thousands of similar logos over the years.

I'm not trying to put down the original logo designer. It's really not that bad. But I just had this urge to put a different spin on it -- if only to justify my trash talk about it.

I came up with a few variants, but here's my stab at a redesign:


I fixed the execution issues. First, we have an original logo that better represents the community. Oak Park is a "green" village, and so the top-half of the stylized "O" represents the different shades of the community, and the many trees. The bottom half in blue represents the "togetherness" of the community by uniting all the elements together, and it serves as the base of the village.

In addition to the "O" as a representation of unity, we have other subtle symbolism going on: The sun or treetop reflecting off a lake, or a rainbow with its reflection.

It also looks like an eyeball, which I don't like. However, on a T-shirt or bumper sticker it would grab your attention as it "stares" at you. So for a political logo, it helps bring attention to itself.

And as a T-shirt design, it would be pretty cool in my humble opinion.

With the text on the right, we reinforce the message. All the letters are together -- literally -- and we have some visual hierarchy at the top. Obviously "TOGETHER" is the key word, and again serves as the "strong base" of the logo. The color codes complement the "O" at left, while the different font weights aid readability since all the letters are squished together. (In addition, for a local election, it's fairly safe to de-emphasize the town name here).

The tag line, at the bottom, also continues the "togetherness" theme, with the font weights emphasizing how you should read that tagline: Experience Matters.

And when it comes to elections, so does a memorable logo.

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