What’s in a Word(mark)?

A really interesting part of our project here is developing a new wordmark for Drupal. For those of you who are unsure as to what a Wordmark is, Wikipedia gives us this definition:

A wordmark, subset of the term logotype, is a standardized graphic representation of the name of a company, institution, or product name used for purposes of identification and branding. A wordmark is usually a distinct text-only typographic treatment as can be found in the graphic identities of the Government of Canada, FedEx, Google, and Wikipedia. The organization name is incorporated as a simple graphic treatment to create a clear, visually memorable identity. The representation of the word becomes a visual symbol of the organization or product.

Some words to pull out from that: 

  • Distinct, text-only typographic treatment
  • The notion of the word becomes a visual symbol of the organization or product

A wordmark does not include an associated logo or icon. A wordmark combined with a logo is a logotype.

When asked to redesign a logo (which is always a daunting task), I always try to approach the problem from a typographic standpoint. Taking the values of the brand (if there are any at that point), and trying to incorporate them into a typographic form. In the case if Drupal, the brand values are pretty easy to grasp, however, how do you communicate them in a way that will be timeless (you don’t want to be redesigning this in a couple of years time)?

There are also practical considerations for a wordmark. It will need to be reproduced at varying sizes (three feet tall, to 20px high), on different media (web, print, tv), using different processes (litho, screenprinting, faxed). Wordmarks take a beating, and they should be designed to take it.

Where do you start

For the Drupal wordmark, luckily, I’m not starting from scratch. There is already a rich history of the logo, and the drupalicon (just read this post for an insight into how the Drupalicon is changed, and how much of that change is part of the Drupal community). However, with history, comes culture and, sometimes, baggage. It’s my job to put all that to one side and solve the problem in front of me. Luckily, a wordmark problem is a typographic problem, and I’ve got a thing about type.

I’m starting by looking at the letterforms. Finding common shapes within them, how the letters d, r, u, p, a, l relate to one another. I’m looking at the space between the letters. Opportunities to customise them, to reinforce the brand, and community, values. I’m not keeping the results of this to myself, oh no. Like Leisa, I’m going to be asking for feedback too. And like any identity development, it’s only going to be the start. It’s up to you to take this and run with it in the coming years.