IXD103 – Monograms – Week 2

Personal branding

The logo of a brand can be thought of as the starting point for describing it. Your bios are open to change and that is ok – they are not set in stone. A brand is an evolving process – even established brands evolve – a good brand is fluid, it will evolve and adapt. Weaker brands will need to be re-branded. Monograms are open to change as we develop as designers and fine tune our skills. Reviewing your work continually and adapting it if necessary is a key aspect of design.

Simplicity. A simple concept for the mark makes it easier to understand and ensures durability. This is something I will strive for in my own personal brand.

Personal branding is a way to not only communicate with consumers but also with the world. What is my work about? What kind of designer/person am I? What is unique/special/drives me? something that can evolve over time.

Workmarks and Monograms

They both use letterforms to make unique, identifiable marks. The choices made for these will visually demonstrate the tone of voice established in the writing stage of the branding process.

Task 1

Write your first name using letterforms made out of circles, squares and triangles only. We were given 1 hour to complete this task.

Things I will be considering:

  • What is necessary to make the letters recognizable?
  • What can be left out?
  • How do you differentiate the letters but maintain a consistency?
  • Should I do it digitally or on paper?

Click here to see the completed task.

Resources and references to research:


  • Symbol by Angus Hyland – In library 741.6/HYL
  • Marks of excellence by Per Mollerup – library
  • Logo by Michael Evamy
  • Logo modernism by Jens Muller
  • Logo design love by David Airey


  • Wim Crouwel – Dutch Typography
  • Armin Hofmann – Swiss Designer


Monograms and Lettermarks

It’s a motif made by overlapping or combining 2 or more letters to form a symbol; they are often made by combining the initials of an individual or a company, used as a recognisable symbol or logo.

Daniel’s Pinterest monogram board link.


Asymmetrical words, vertical, horizontal – you can play around with it, place a line over them, etc. We can abstract letters – reductive language for visual communication.

  • HP – they have removed aspects of the logo and are hoping to remove more to the point of it being an angled line. Complete simplicity. It provides also the tone of voice – simplicity and efficiency.

  • London Luton Airport – their use of multiple colours works perfectly as the logo is made of squares.

  • MIT media lab – they are a great example of versatility and consistency. When compiled all those monograms create an appealing visual experience. It is very Memorable and it was all created from a basic colour pallet.
  • Canadian National.
  • Jessica Hische – Daily Drop Cap project.
  • Hope Meng’s monogram project.
  • Early Greek and Roman coins that bear the monograms of rulers or towns.

  • Albercht Durer’s monogram from 1502 is one of the best known monograms from the world of art history.

  • Paul Rand’s IBM logo. Rand successfully created an iconic logo for IBM that ties the letters together using nothing more than equally weighted bands.

  • CNN logo – a logo that has truly stood the test of time.

Case study

  • LW theatres – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s LW Theatres ( previously Really Useful Theatres) owns and manages 6 West End theatres. The new logo is meant to represent the stage and the spotlight but its a stretch of a connection to make for anyone that see the logo without the explanation. It is elegant though. They kept the negative space consistently with their 6 other brands. This establishes the consistent language, whilst maintaining the individual originality of each theatre. It provides a high-end, simplistic and consistent design.

  • Gatwick express – they removed the previously cluttered logo and replaced it for a more simplistic logo which resulted in a clearer, calmer and more luxurious looking design which for the customer translates to the products. They made it recognisable. Their previous logo was outdated and it caused customers to feel that their high price point was not justified. They lost the clutter and made the new logo all about clarity. The mix of cusps and curves conveyed a sense of calm to the brand that the previous logo was not providing. The ‘G’ and the ‘X’ now looked seamlessly connected and simplistic in its approach. It brought a sense of clarity to all the brand communications – including tone of voice and photography.

Task 2

Gather inspiration, identifying all different types of typography.

Create 2 mood boards:

  • Magazines and Ephemera
  • Digital (photos, online) go for a walk and look for type in your environment, finding letter forms in different applications.
  • Typography based shapes – a ladder, a desk, a window, etc… and identify what makes that shape recognisable? Bold and curved? simplified?

Present at 3:30pm!

NOTE: mood boards are good to convey information and inspire. They allude to a tone of voice and briefing. Pinterest is great for this.

Blog post for this task link.

Monogram design brief

Practical requirements -Book- Mollerup presents 24 ‘practical requirements’ linked to graphic marks. [Mollerup, P., 1998, Marks of Excellence. London: Phaidon. pp. 90-91].

A good monogram will have all of these:

  1. Simplicity – is the mark simple and easy to understand?
  2. Attention value/holding power – does it draw you in and hold you attention? ( compare yours to the Pinterest ones and see if it stands out/holds its own )
  3. Application (including scale) – does it work when very, very small? will it work on a small business card? is it just going to be screen based or both?
  4. Competition – Does it distinguish itself from other marks? it is clearly mine?
  5. Tone of voice – is the feel of the mark keeping with my brand?
  6. Fashionability/Timelessness – will it evolve beyond fashion, be more than a trend? is it likely to lose relevance over time? Is it contemporary? Will it evolve as fashion changes and transcend time? Fashion and culture changes, we move quickly, it will have to last longer than 10 years.
  7. Focus on form (no colour) – Work within the constraints of black and white as this forces you to explore form. Colour will be added later on. Even when working with black and white the constraints are removed. Consider whether some parts of the letter need removed or does the negative space hint at it better? Paper first!!! Digital once you have fully explored it. Start with fast sketches then move unto more refined ones. Do plenty then narrow it down to your favourite, develop them further on paper then digitalize. Animate it if you can.
  8. Animation – consider how it could be animated or come to life.
  9. Research – To start with look at —> Wim Crouwel ( Dutch typographer ) Armin Hofmann ( Swiss Designer )
  10. Attention to detail – it is vital, use a grid, avoid a dreadful execution.
  11. Think uppercase, lowercase, adding middle name or a middle initial?
  12. It HAS to work in black and white, single colours, multi colour, etc., as you never know who will use it and reproduce it so if it is simple and easy to use it will be successful.
  13. Typeface into the monogram? or just a simple monograms?
  14. Visually represent your tone of voice presented in your bio.

——————< Brief on blackboard explaining it further >——————

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