As Little As Possible.

Christopher Doyle
2 min readJul 30, 2023

The following text was taken from our 2023 studio publication, Nothing I Know Belongs To Me, published by Formist.

Designers love to debate logos. Their relevance, their meaning, who had the idea first, and why they should or shouldn’t dare be changed or updated. We love to say logos aren’t brands, which of course they aren’t, but we also fight for them. Even with the proliferation of screens and moving images, we understand that static logos are still the most immediate visual shortcut we have to brand.

When I started working, logos had to achieve two things to be successful. Firstly, and most importantly, they had to be clever. That meant they needed an idea. A single, simple visual element that made the viewer think (and look) twice. To allow them to discover something new or unexpected. Something that would elicit the elusive ‘smile in the mind’. There had to be clues but also subtlety. It was a delicate balance of the accessible and the abstract. And it was a type of thinking and process that was completely new to me. I fell in love with the pursuit instantly, desperate to know how to do it. I was taught that it was simply a process of looking. Of playing with words, letterforms, shapes, and icons. Pulling elements apart, turning them upside down, and rearranging them in as many ways as possible, until an idea revealed itself. Not that it was easy. In fact, it often felt impossible.

Secondly, they had to be able to be faxed. That meant they needed to work in black and white, be simple in their construction, and be legible at small sizes. While limiting, it also meant a level of simplicity and singularity was required. It forced you to be constantly refining.

Our approach is no different today. Scalability and simplicity remain paramount. Concerns about faxes have been replaced with concerns about phones. Logos need to be smaller than they have ever been. But it’s still about finding coincidence, convenience, and connection. It’s about uncovering an idea that reminds the viewer of everything they know and love, or loathe, about a product or brand. A shortcut that’s not going anywhere soon.