Simon Griffee

The Core 100 Logotype Design

18 October 2019 · 2 minute read

Columbia University’s Centennial Celebration of its Core Curriculum has begun and you might spot a strange logo here and there around the campus. Having designed the logotype, I wanted to give a visual overview of the work involved in making it.

Notebook page with Core 100 logotype design notes.

After discussing a creative brief provided by Columbia College Alumni Association, I drew initial explorations. At this stage I like to stay away from computer screens and to use my favorite thinking tools: pencil and paper.

Notebook page with Core 100 logotype design notes.
Notebook page detail.
Notebook page detail.

A few directions are chosen and presented in PDFs or images in emails with accompanying notes. If the client can come to the office, usually I would have a lot of these pinned up on the wall or laid on a table, but in this case the work, apart from the initial meeting to discuss the project brief, was done entirely remotely. Click on images to see larger versions.

Design exploration detail.
Design exploration detail.
Design exploration detail.

These are discussed and further refined. Here are a few examples of several more pages (iteration is important to find the best solution, which may come at the beginning, but most often does not).

Design exploration refinements.
Design exploration refinements.
Design exploration refinements.
Design exploration refinements.
Design exploration refinements.

My personal favorite was this owl.

Design exploration refinements.

In the end, a bold Futura typeface that still recalls an owl while alluding to an energetic core won the day, and preparation of digital file deliverables, including Illustrator source files, print and web files, typefaces, color swatches, and so on, began.

Design deliverables preparation.
Design deliverables.
Design deliverables preparation.

A style guide and usage examples were included with the deliverables.

Design styleguide detail.
Design styleguide detail.
Design styleguide detail.
Design deliverables - ad example. Click for PDF.

I think I prefer the original tagline to the one that was chosen later, but I am probably wrong, and am happy to see the bold logo being used on water bottles, tote bags, pins, notebooks, and so on! It was a pleasure to work with Columbia College on this project, and I want to thank Bernice Tsai in particular for her thoughtful comments and feedback.

Core 100 products.
Core 100 totebag.

—Simon

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