Letters, that is. Flip that p over the horizontal axis and you’ve got a b. Flip it over the vertical axis, then back over the horizontal, and you’ve got a q. A u is a rotated n. The lowercase e and lowercase a are interchangeable in many instances. Sometimes z and s work much the same. There are, of course, more.
Why would you want to recycle letters? Uniformity of appearance. It’s not essential, but it’s worth considering; the fewer the differences, the less the eye has to take in at a glance and the more quickly the message is received.
Sounds strange, doesn’t it? With high print costs, the shrewd thing to do would be to fill all that negative space with graphics so you can get your money’s worth, right?
Maybe that’s what a lot of people are thinking. Maybe, even, you’d have a higher return on your investment if you let the negative space be negative.
Negative space, by itself, draws little attention. Space filled with lots to look at doesn’t draw much attention, either. But empty space with, say, one small focal point: that draws attention.
Say you’re glancing out the window at a dense forest; there’s too much to look at, too much to take in. To avoid sensory overload, you look away. That doesn’t mean the sight is unpleasant; it just can’t hold your focus and you’re left with little memory of what you’ve just seen.
Then you glance out another window and view a wide open field, big sky and one tree.
If this was a design situation where the goal was to convey “tree”, I would opt for the latter option. People crave simplicity; if we can take just one, solid thing away from what we’ve viewed, we’re satisfied—and we’ll remember what we saw. The greater the complexity, the more quickly we lose focus.
Setting your message apart and inviting the most attention: that’s the goal. And it may be that paying for negative space is the way to get you there.
It seems the Germans have more to offer than just products with tank-like durability. They’ve got good design.
Cologne Intelligence rebranded after twelve years and the result is brilliant.
The C was given sharp, ninety-degree angles in order to look like a bracket ([). The CI used by itself for the most fundamental presentation is great; but it gets better. When the C and I are spread apart, they can neatly frame in the main logotype and sub-brands. This makes the identity extremely versatile.
Interestingly, by definition brackets are used to enclose words, separating them from the context. Thus, the use of the C puts emphasis on the contents of documents, folders and notepads. As you can see, the simplicity of the identity affords the opportunity to stretch the C for print on any stationery while still maintaining brand recognition.
Truly the designer(s) of the Cologne Intelligence identity had “full-scale” in mind while they were hard at work. All-too-often there’s this disparity between the logo and the other visuals displayed with it on products, packaging, stationery, what have you. The disparity exists because there’s nothing that ties the logo to the rest of the identity.
A collection of designs without cohesion is essentially worthless. Each facet, presented alone, should give the viewer an impression of the whole brand image.
There needs to be an obvious thread weaving through every aspect of the identity. And these designers nailed it. The initials CI can be used to frame in anything and everything that pertains to the company. Their work is definitely worthy of the spotlight.
Here’s a link to the Cologne Intelligence website.
And here you’ll find a good presentation of the full identity.