The Delicate Task of Logo Animation
As a video editor and motion graphics artist, I am occasionally faced with the task of animating a corporate logo. It’s a job that I always enjoy, because it carries unique challenges and creative possibilities, but it can definitely be intimidating. People take logos very seriously – they are the most visible symbol of what a group or company stands for. An immense amount of effort goes into planning a logo’s design, font selection, and color palette. Often, design studios create elaborate style guides, outlining exactly where and how a logo should be used. Introducing motion and animation into the mix needs to be done thoughtfully; the goal is to create an engaging sequence that retains the essence of a brand’s identity.
With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to look at a few different examples of logo animation that I’ve done over the past few years and the challenges they presented.
1. Bucknell University
Like many institutions, Bucknell has a text logo, or wordmark, in a specific font and color scheme. The university typically places a still image of its wordmark at the end of videos, but I sometimes had the chance to alter the wordmark to fit the project I was working on. For example, in a video celebrating the school’s liberal arts curriculum, we produced a video with a warmly monochromatic “old parchment” aesthetic. The stark blue wordmark seemed out of place at the end of it, so I created the following version, which matches the video’s look and theme much more closely.
I was also given the chance to create an animated logo for the Office of Communications at Bucknell. This animation is shown at the beginning of videos produced in-house by the department. Whereas the liberal arts logo had to match the theme of a specific project, the communications logo needed to be suitable for a wide array of uses. As such, I created a sequence that closely mirrors the original Bucknell wordmark, with a textured background, clean fonts, and a slightly richer color scheme. When combined with the reveal effects used on the text, the result is a sequence that is unique to the Office of Communications, but retains the key elements of Bucknell’s brand identity. A distinctive sound effect also accompanies the animation, which helps to set it apart.
When Mayer Creative Productions rebranded itself as VideoBurst, it had a new logo created. The logo is attractive and clever; it features a triangular “play” symbol bursting into smaller triangles. However, creating an animated version of it was a challenge because the logo already depicts motion – it is a snapshot of the play symbol bursting. To have the triangle symbol start to break apart and then freeze would appear anticlimactic, but it was important to show the “burst” in motion. I created a few different versions of the logo animation in an attempt to work through this, including one in which the various pieces of the logo flew apart and then came back together. Ultimately, the solution came in the form of having the “burst” reveal the frozen logo below.
3. Wataingi Media
As someone who creates video content for a living, it’s especially important that my own logo animation be effective. The motion graphics I create for myself instantly become part of my resume and portfolio; it’s one of the first things potential clients will see when they look at my work. I started using the “three blue dots” logo when I redesigned this website. For me, it calls to mind the sprocket holes in a strip of film. My first attempt at creating a motion graphic for the logo was a bit of a rush-job; I made it quickly when I needed an updated logo for a completed project. Despite its simplicity, I still think it basically works, although it was only ever meant as a temporary solution.
Ultimately, I felt that it was necessary for my logo animation to represent my skill set as an animator more fully. With that goal, I created the following version of the logo. It uses the same color scheme, but recreates the “blue dots” as orbs on a three dimensional plane. This allowed me to explore advanced animation techniques in After Effects to create something distinctive and elaborate.
The second version of the logo met my goal of showcasing animation techniques, but I felt that some of the brand identity I was looking for had been lost in the process. I had deliberately stuck to the blue and white color scheme I use on the website, but the result in motion feels very cold to me. In two dimensional design, using a light palette can give a clean and minimalistic look, but the theme became too stark in a 3D animated world. I ultimately decided to invert the background and use a blue and black color scheme. I also decided to transition from the 3D animated orbs to a static 2D version of the logo at the end of the sequence. While the finished animation no longer matches the aesthetic of the website as precisely, I feel that it works better as a piece of video and maintains the style I was striving for.
I have very little doubt that I’ll tinker with the Wataingi logo again in the future – besides the variations above, it’s already been through several different incarnations. As an animator, it’s just something that I’m always going to be striving to improve. For the moment, though, I’m fairly happy with it – and I’m looking forward to tackling new logo animations in the future.