The New Art Directors Club Logo is Total Dogshit

Posted in graphic design, Life Sucks, Off Topic by DCroy on 11 November 2009
Pink is the New ADC Logo

The '90's called - they want Franklin Gothic Back

No, it isn’t. It’s not that bad, really. Smack dab in the middle of the road, sure. Boring, even? Yes. But this isn’t about the boring, middle-of-the-road choices that were made, or whether it’s better than Paula Scher’s previous logo. This is about how they screwed up the execution.

The r-t letterspacing is, however, total dogshit.

I don’t know why, but everyone seems afraid to properly letterspace the r-t connection. It’s as though there’s a force field keeping them from ever touching. It’s tricky, I’ll admit, but there are at least two strategies for letterspacing a word with a lower case r-t. This dogshit is now a teachable moment. And we’ll all pause to vomit at the term “teachable moment.”

Option 1:

One option is to keep the force field in place. It’s a bad option, but if you are the sort of a person who, like a chaperone at the junior prom, just is not gonna ever have no letters touching, then go with it. All it means is that the overall tracking will be a little wider.

Force Field Letterspacing

No Touching Allowed

You should treat letterspacing as negative space, not linear spacing between the letterforms themselves. So, if we’re keeping the r-t space (the black line above), we realize how that affects the space between the outer edges of the r and t (the green rectangles above). It’s a difficult area to translate to the other negative spaces in your word, and there’s lots of room for individual interpretation. But it will help pull your mark together into a cohesive design. Unlike the original, which looks like a gap-toothed hillbilly.


A Comparison - Mine on top, original in pink, wider tracking in yellow.

Above, a comparison, with the r-t space used as a guide for the rest of the tracking in the mark. The yellow is mine, the pink, original.

Option 2 – a.k.a. the better option:

This one connects the r and t, and allows for a tighter tracking across the mark.


Tighter is better.

It requires a little drawing and a little finesse, but it works much better. Nontrivially better. Because I do think the tighter tracking in the original is the better way to go. So, don’t be afraid to have the r and the t touch. Even though, if you compared the r in Art with the one in Director, they’d look different, they are similar enough that the difference disappears. The thing about tricks like this is that, generally, people don’t notice the little cheats. They notice that everything works together better, perhaps in ways they can’t articulate, but better.


A Comparison - Mine on top, narrower tracking in yellow, original in pink.

But not to be a total curmudgeon, there is some nice craftsmanship. I’m not sure if they used a different digitization of Franklin than mine, or if it was custom made, but it’s a nice version. I especially like the rounded joins (rather than the angled join shown in the blue circle below) and overall character. Frequently, in a logotype, I’ll sand those edges off, too, because it’s just nicer and adds a little craft to what could otherwise look like just another typed-in word. So, they get some points for the subtleties.


Rounder is often nicer.

BTW, I redrew everything in like, nine seconds (because I’m not getting paid to do it), so, yes, it’s not perfect. (Man oh man, the trolls have made me preëmptively defensive. Thanks, trolls). Anyway.


4 Responses

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  1. Ripping type a new one « Notchweiner is said, on 19 November 2009 at 6:46 am

    […] Nobody tears type apart like Marlin friend and über talent, David Croy. As evinced in this sweet love letter he wrote to the Art Directors Club concerning their new logo, entitled The New Art Directors Club Logo Is Total Dogshit. […]

  2. […] Nobody tears type apart like my buddy David Croy. As evinced in this sweet love letter he wrote to the Art Directors Club concerning their new logo, entitled The New Art Directors Club Logo Is Total Dogshit. […]

  3. steph said, on 26 July 2013 at 6:42 pm

    If given the opportunity, how would you have tackled this project? Not entirely sure why Trollback was commissioned in the first place.

    • David Croy said, on 27 July 2013 at 8:22 pm

      Good question. I’m often suspicious of novelty for its own sake (for instance, if I was given the American Airlines re-brand, I would’ve just gotten rid of the dorky eagle and reverted to Vignelli’s great original Helvetica branding – it has such a seriousness, rigor, and (by now) history, that doing nothing but erasing a mistake (not Vignelli’s, btw) would be the best approach, imo. That said, the old AD logo was (and I hate to say this because she’s one of my faves) sort of weird and a little precious (what does Duhrer, an illustrator, have to do with art directing?). So it could use something, and while this isn’t bad, it is pretty boring and probably not the best solution.

      ADC is so insular a thing that it’s almost a non-brand. For instance, they’re not selling Art Directors’ Club cookies or anything to the general public. It’s a brand for branding professionals only. So you could do something more conceptual, like a changeable system (something I’m not usually too fond of for most consumer applications as I tend to think it requires more attention to branding than the general public should be expected to give). Or perhaps the brand is just a set of dimensions to be filled in by a different art director each year (possible, given print-on-demand and the web). You could have edgy a.d.s doing experiments, you could have direct mail a.d.s doing more straightforward stuff, you might have an avenue of communication between a.d.s that they normally wouldn’t experience, and in a way that could expand the internal and external vision of the club. But, of course, they didn’t hire me, so what do I know?

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