Vintage Logo Inspiration Analysis

Through my logo analysis i think i really would like to explore the vintage themes associated with a few bike brands i looked at, directly linking the history of the bicycle to my over arching cafe theme. To start this i wanted to look fairly generally at the examples of retro logo design already in existence in the kind of vein i’m interested in. This i hope will prove to be inspirational for the second batch of ideas.


Figure 1


Figure 2


Figure 3


Figure 4


Figure 5


Figure 6

These particular examples pulled from Google and Behanced alike all show elements that i find to hold a particular aesthetic appeal when i consider what strikes me as ‘retro’ or ‘vintage’. Starting with Figures 1,2 and 5 which all take on a semi spherical composition with the information and visual elements enclosed by a shape. As i’ve mentioned in previous blog posts (Logo analysis) this enclosure of the information has the effect of creating distinct boundaries between the logo and the rest of the page where the logo sits. As there is no information or visual elements bleeding past the ‘boundaries’ of the logo, it allows the logo to exist both as a solo entity but also as part of larger compositions without intruding on the rest of the page layout. Though this is a vintage inspired concept, the functionality of the design choice is unquestionable when considering the logo as part of a greater purpose.

The second feature i picked up on features in Figures 1,2,3 and 6, and is the banner. This particular device serves as a divider between the visual elements and the information, however it is not as clear cut and obvious as divisions made by lines alone for example, allowing it to blend in with the style of the logo as a whole. This as a feature is present in many vintage inspired logos and original logos alike and is reminiscent of companies from the 50’s. Particularly i appreciate the ability to create a banner that matches a  particular purpose, the banner in Figure 6 for example is very different from the banner in figure 3. Whereas in Figure 6 the banner serves as a division between the text and the outside of the page, and to also create a negative space between the top of its structure and the bottom of the title, the banner in Figure 3 is arguably the main elements as the important text sits within it.

Another defining design choice that i found reoccurring in vintage inspired logos, is the use of pastel colours as apposed to bright block colouring more commonly found in contemporary logo design. This makes the colours feel less harsh and i think makes the colours easily to use collaboratively with each other as the clash between particular colours is lessened. Furthermore even the use of a toned down black, closer to a dark grey or a navy, takes the edge off the dark colour whilst still providing the contrast between the colours as is often the desired effect when using blacks.

Next, the typeface choices of vintage esque designs, which do vary from logo to logo, though often the most striking of examples are those that appear hand rendered, ornate and decorative styles that connote a retro feel almost automatically. Often complimenting these are small typographic elements usually consisting of a determiner such as ‘a’ or ‘the’, as shown in Figures 3 and 6 the small lettering is woven into the decoration surrounding the logo. Conversely, more contemporary vintage inspired logos utilise sans serif typefaces as shown in Figures 4 and 5, which create a cleaner aesthetic, but rely more on the small decorations surrounding the rest of the logo, in Figure 4 for example the line breakers or the small icons around the edges are what bring the majority of the examples back to connoting vintage.

The final point that i found interesting about these vintage inspired logos, is the use of illustrative elements, or rather the lack of them. Specifically the more heavily ornate typographic examples seem to shy away from any illustrations, this could be potentially because of a lack of need of any other elements, with the logo resting on the strength of its typography alone, but also because it could prove difficult to combine complex elements of typography and imagery. Naturally for a logo such as my own i have considered the necessity of illustrative elements as part of my design, and i do personally feel that they would likely add to its strength, however it may be necessary to avoid using any complex illustrations, in order to avoid detraction from the typography.

Things to absorb

  • A spherical composition helps to create an all encompassing feel including all elements
  • Using a banner to create divisions between the elements
  • Choosing a typeface that is impactful either through hand rendering or boldness of line.
  • Shy away from using heavy illustrative elements when using ornate typographic elements.

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