On designing the CivicSpace logo

CivicSpace LogoIf you haven’t seen it, the latest logo for CivicSpace is an aggressive, don’t-mess-with-us symbol of the new politics. The logotype is a mix between Neutraface Heavy and the wonderful handmade type of Michael Schwab. It’s bold, unique and classic. It’s also intentionally a throwback to 40s-style poster lettering, to invoke a sense of old-world patriotism found in WWII US propaganda.

The graphic elements are obviously stars and stripes, as the predominant leaning of CivicSpace has been towards the overtly political. After all, DeanSpace started out with the Howard Dean campaign, and we see a large number of our users directing the power of CivicSpace to grassroots political campaigns. To that typically American audience, we need to communicate strength, power, innovation and simplicity. The use of the stars and stripes are intended to communicate those qualities, despite the fact that to most folks outside the continent, those same symbols represent American hegemony, imperialism and all that’s so ugly about the United States.

The actual triangular design of the stripes and the detached stars have a greater symbolic meaning than the connotations I sought to invoke. In fact, my intention was to represent the kids in Eminem’s prolific Mosh video… rising up together against a political machine that has made their votes irrelevant and their ideas seem even less valued.

Each star represents a head; the stripe a body. And the triangular shape indicates perspective – that this grassroots “army” is made up of thousands of individuals – as far as the eye can see.

But just because my intention was to communicate these things through my design doesn’t mean that I was successful. Nor does it mean that I think that the current design is final or that I’ve even captured what CivicSpace really means to me yet.

In fact, I still feel like I need to find some way of communicating “grassroots”, “community”, “social networking”, “friendliness”, “ease of use”, and in general, more feminine attributes like “hope” and “inclusivity”. Already, the designs I’ve done for the CivicSpace homepage have started out overly masculine and only when I pulled away from the logo did I start to reveal something much more friendly, feminine and closer to what I actually envision using for the final design.

So after getting additional feedback last from some European and Canadian Drupalites, I’m considering yet another return to the drawing board – perhaps even returning to a prior design. The CivicSpace identity remains elusive and I’m not quite sure what’s going to bring about the kind of finality that I’m so ready for.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: Molly.com (YC W18), Uber, Google.

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