Some of the Best Logos Are Free

I was driving the other day where I live near Bradenton, Florida, when I noticed a sign by the side of the road: this nicely designed logo (upper left example). You just don’t see well-designed logos very often, and certainly not on signs. But there it was.

And so when I returned home, I looked it up and found that a women’s resource center (sorry, but I was ignorant here) is a community center where women can go to get assistance for all kinds of domestic circumstances, such as spousal abuse, sexual assault, legal assistance, health care, and even housing. I was impressed, on several different levels.

The fact that these centers exist attests to the generosity and concern of local communities to help women in need and offer support however they can, all for practically no money. Plus they provide for their own services to the community by offering education about their programs in meetings at schools and colleges and other municipal places, making their services known. That’s one reason I was impressed.

So I went online and did a search for other women’s resource centers around the country and their logos, on a hunch that maybe other centers’ logos were just as well-designed as this one in Bradenton. And I was mildly surprised to see that the vast majority of them have very nice logos. Well put together with clean lines and well thought out imagery.

But I think I was most impressed with the thought that these logos were done by good designers pro bono. That the designers were asked to do a design for this kind of service—and knowing the worth of them—more than probably decided to do them for nothing, just for the honor of being asked.

I personally have not done any pro bono work such as this, but I have done free work just for being asked, and I can say it evokes a certain pride in having done that. Here, in these logos pictured above, I can only imagine the kind of gratitude given on both sides of the transaction.

This points up something I’ve noticed over the years: that if given the opportunity to do a design for a worthy cause, the client will usually allow design freedom, within limits, and the designer‘s best work will show.

My first reaction to the top left example was the image of the “W” as a flower. Nicely thought out, and the Optima font goes well with it. I’ll give this one an “A”.

The top right example, for a center in Orlando, reminded me of something one of my college roommates would’ve put together. The image in the logo looks like three figures linked as in dance because it has that kind of built-in motion to it. But it’s clean and concise and reads well, even with the Gotham font that’s used, which gives it a slight generic feel. But it gets an “A-”.

The bottom left example, showing a much more casual approach, is for a center in Winona, Minnesota. The three letterforms—done on the sweet side of the color wheel—read OK (the “R” less so) are fairly well-done, but the accompanying type to the right feels a little off and too separated. This gets a “B-”.

The last example, done for a center in Greensboro, NC, is quite well-done and has a figure formed out of the well of the “O”, promoting a feeling of freedom. I like this one a lot, including the fine serif font which gives the design a real dignity. This gets an “A+”.

Fine work all around here.

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