web design business logo

barnstormer's picture

I am struggling to refine the logo for my website design business. I've lived with my 'zen biplane' for 1-1/2 years and feel the design needs some serious refinement. It does not translate well in black/white, looks like a flying insect when it's very small, and just seems overall weak to me. (Odd thing - people have offered positive comments when they see my business card.)

Although I've developed some pretty good logos for clients, I'm struggling with my own design. Too close to it perhaps? I recognize that I'm a far better web designer than I am a graphic artist!

I'd like to depict the biplane (thus the 'Barnstormer') without appearing cartoon-like. I'm also working with a sky/clouds theme for my website. I'm not locked into the red/black necessarily.

Here's a link to my current logo and business card:
{link removed}

I look forward to your expert advice and critique!


Dan Weaver's picture

Deb the first thing that struck me was I couldn't figure out how barnstorming had anything to do with web site design.

Why not use a stock photo of a real plane.

I'm not in love with the BARNSTORMING type its way to large, and the enlarged B and G make it look unbalanced as the thicks and thins also increased making them look heavy.

Your contact information on your card is to small.

Chris Rugen's picture


What image are you trying to portray in your redesign? I like the Barnstormer idea in general, but I'm not sure what the 'zen biplane' isn't giving you that you'd like to get from the new logo. Personally, I'd push for an engraved or silkscreened feel for the graphics, not knowing any specifics. Also, the biplane coming at someone head-on is a very strong implied statement, but may not read as well as a 3/4 view (something like this). Have you considered creating a small vignetted image (something like this, but framed in an oval), since a barnstormer flies daringly close to the earth?

Also, as an aside, This image of Kitty Hawk is just really great.

barnstormer's picture

Dan, Thank you very much for your comments.

I've considered the stock photo route, however I've not been able to find an appropriate biplane photo.

I agree that the font is not right. I've struggled to find something appropriate and am open to suggestions from forum members.

The contact info at 100% is 9pt Times. (The web sample is shown slightly reduced.) Perhaps 10pt would be better?

Another approach I considered was to remove the plane and use a modified type logo for the name against a full color blue sky/wht cloud photo background. For blk/wht reproduction, I'd supply just the name, but on my web and business card, include the clouds.

The business name works well for me. In my marketing materials and when meeting with a prospect for the first time, I explain the connection between barnstorming and my design philosophy. My prospects and clients seem to like the story behind this connection and easily remember the "barnstormer" portion of the name.

I feel like I'm back to square one.... but sometimes it's easier to start over than to fix the unfixable. Thanks again.

Fredrik's picture

I like the idea of removing the obvious object, the craft, and focusing on the action.
(Perhaps use a photo of a sky with some ground, then add a zoom effect - as if you were in the plane, diving.) Then the relation image to name becomes more evocative, dynamic.
Develop the name - typeface - to be your main graphic device, and use clever imagery to create a kind of narrative space.

timd's picture

I think you might find the cost of using some stock photography prohibitive if you do find one makes sure it's royalty free. If you were to lose the plane you could go for the look of spelt out lettering in smoke, try a script like this http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/fontmesa/american-pop/one/ you might find this one too 'coke' but to me a swashy script can give an aerobatic feel, I would avoid putting text on a curved line too.

barnstormer's picture


Thank you for your comments and the links.

The image I'm trying to portray:
Inspiration, creativity, precision - not too feminine, too masculine, cutesy, or corporate.

The Stearman (great photo you found!) is the plane I'm connected with. You're right, working with the 3/4 view is tricky - I've tried.

I very much like the vignette idea where I have full color available, but I'm thinking the engraved or silkscreened design would be more versatile for reproduction black/white.

You've given me some great new direction. Thanks again!

barnstormer's picture

The motion is a wonderful idea! I'll consider some Flash animation for my website banner once I've developed the type design. Could work very well, if done right.

Thanks for the feedback!

Chris Rugen's picture

I look forward to seeing where you take it.

Dan Weaver's picture

Deb, depending on your typeface choice your contact information could stay 9pt. Just make sure its clear and clean, hey, you want them to contact you. For the barnstormer name maybe a face that reflects the era of the barnstormers. A google search should help in that reguard. Have fun!

BartvanderGriendt's picture

Hey there Deborah!

Some thoughts on the type to go with the imagery. If you decide to make the 'painted' plane the main focus, I think you should choose a less ornamented, more neutral sans serif typeface. Visually the painted plane is quite dominant, and with this ornamental serifed face the name competes with the image.

If, on the other hand, you think the name of the company is the main focus, I'd play down on the symbol. Use a less intense color combination, or just use a subtler style.

In general I think the business cards desperately need some air. Try not to fill every space, in stead play around with a subtle composition using lots of whitespace. If you use a plane as an image, i think it is better to give it some room to fly. :-)

My work is a game. A very serious game [M.C. Escher]

barnstormer's picture

I think initially (1-1/2 years ago), I was going for a slightly nostaligic feel with the typeface. However, upon reading your comments, I agree that there is some serious competition going on between the design element and the text. I'll explore some sans serif options.

Although I've been referred to by those I know as the "queen of whitespace", I did not use this same philosophy at the time I designed my own business card.

I'll give my plane (if I choose to use one) some air and let her fly!

Thanks much for your comments.

BartvanderGriendt's picture

Hey Deborah,

Queen of whitespace... now there's a great title. :-)


My work is a game. A very serious game [M.C. Escher]

Eric_West's picture

Did anyone else notice the default illustrator brush strokes? Do 2 brush strokes by hand, scan them in, after you find the appropriate 2, and place those. Outside of improving the type, lose the tagline. Taglines are for mattress outlets and fast food joints. Lose the fake small caps as well. Sorry I'm a little blunt. All in good fun!

ebensorkin's picture

I live in Alaska & the romance of air travel is very much alive here. I have seen lots of old biplanes and the type used with these is a really blocky type. I wonder if a rich compelling romantic old fashionedness might not help underscore the name as well as giving confidence that you can handle complex design interaction.

On the other hand a cloud theme or a smoke stream could be good too.

I guess my main idea was just that there is a lot of graphic richness in aircraft hisrory that could be mined.

barnstormer's picture

Eric, Good observation about the default Illustrator brushes. I'll break out the paint brushes and give your suggestion a try.

As for taglines, I hold firm on the need for one. I'm not saying my tagline is the best thing around, but I struggle to think of a successful corporation today that doesn't utilize a tagline (or didn't use one previously get where they are now). In the age of brandable "coined" names, without a tagline we wouldn't have a clue what the company is about. Just imagine hearing a PBS sponsorship listing without the corresponding taglines.

Point noted on the small caps. Thanks. I welcome bluntless and appreciate your comments.

Dan Weaver's picture

I agree with using taglines as business positioning. Without a tagline someone could think you had a flight school or were a wedding phototographer.

Do you know about the Inverted Jenny?

Eric_West's picture


After your explanation for the need of a tagline, I was a little less resistant to the idea, and I understand what dan is staying. But as it stands, no one could possible think 'flight school or wedding photog" Because A. Context /' heres my card' / 'heres the card of a designer i know.'
B. Information " You have all of your services listed on the card "

I was just making a point to dan. Now, Part 2 ...

1. General electric - "imagination at work"
2. P&G - "touching lives, improving life"
3. Pentagram - None

You see, maybe I'm not so adverse to a tagline, just maybe it could be better tho. Little too specific to the bi-plane. Too obvious. Maybe I can make some suggestions, or dan?. Have to think a little while.


aluminum's picture

Without a tagline someone could think you had a flight school or were a wedding phototographer.

I suppose, but rarely do you use a logo as your single marketing device completely sans context.

But, yea, taglines can be good if that add a bit of clarity to your message.

ebensorkin's picture

I bet it would not need a tag line if the words design group were prominent enough. Still, if you are going to go on the radio to advertise then having a tagline to use would not hurt. Even then though, you may not need it on your card.

I always prefer to use as simple a solution as possible though. What market do you serve? Local culture is an important factor too.

barnstormer's picture


Your thought about incorporating the romanticism and nostaligia of the biplane into the design has me thinking... :-)


ebensorkin's picture

If you want some examples I can dig some up. I was mostly thinking that the less litteral approach might be richer & more romantic/evocative. The thing about the old biplanes - or monoplanes was that they had an ink on paper letters & aviator's silk scarf side - soft & expressive, as well as a block letter & grease side - tough & pragmatic, all held together with purpose & wire.

If you were the son or daughter of one of these pilots, you might have something from him that would evoke the whole experience for you - even if it was a pen ( not a great example but let that go). And that suggestion or abstract element might be more reasonant than the literal aircraft.

I wonder if a card could be made in the shape of a propeller - maybe it folds. Then you could have info on one side & have a propeller image on the other. Maybe not too. But thats the kind of more abstract kind of thing I was thinking of.

BartvanderGriendt's picture

If Ebens suggestions about the biplane type strike a chord, I think you need to listen to it. It probably says something about what you feel about your business - something that gets easily drowned in customer focussed design.

I agree with Eben that the association of planes might work better than the actual plane. I wonder if the airplane-type Eben mentions is recognisable enough to Deborah's customers. Not all people live in Alaska, off course.

But then again, it might be the creative knightmove that elevates your design to a more interesting level.

Fly on.

My work is a game. A very serious game [M.C. Escher]

ebensorkin's picture

Just to clarify - It isn't really an *alaskan* kind of plane I am thinking of or an alaskan kind of font/type - it's more that there are alot of small planes here ( few roads ) and alot of old planes - so I see them a lot. Also there is alot of romantic feeling about aircraft here.

BartvanderGriendt's picture

I understand, Eben - I was just thinking about the recognisability (is that a word? excuse my English) of airplane type. And by the way - this got me interested - do you know of any online imagery of this kind of lettering?

My work is a game. A very serious game [M.C. Escher]

ebensorkin's picture

I guess I mean something like this


or in context - this


There are also nice scripts & so on...

Really the thing I meant was to go look at lots of books. The internet is good but it is no replacement for a good library!

BartvanderGriendt's picture

Thanks for the images, Eben - and I do think this kind of type evokes the right feeling. Even if not instantly recognisable as airplane-type.

My work is a game. A very serious game [M.C. Escher]

Chris Rugen's picture

I really like the curves of the propeller in Eben's second link. What a beautiful shape, particularly the arabesque running through from one blade to the other.

ebensorkin's picture

Crugen, is that a pilot's helmet on your icon?

Chris Rugen's picture

Yes...I'm pretty certain it is. It's a fictional comic character named Lobster Johnson from Hellboy whose main hobby was fighting evil (usually Nazis, since it was the early 40's).

His character is a tongue-in-cheek treatment of golden-age superheroes, but Mignola pulls it off and actually imbues his character with a fair degree of gravitas while his adventures are often humorous in certain aspects.

"All right then. Come and taste the Lobster's Claw!"
–Lobster Johnson, Hellboy: Conqueror Worm

barnstormer's picture

Thanks to everyone here who provided me with such helpful advice.

Despite my attachment to what the biplane symbolizes for me, I found it too difficult (for me) to incorporate the romanticism of flight into the design. For awhile, I was trying to work with the propeller idea because I too like the curved lines. Ultimately, I feel a professionally illustrated logo would be the way to go. I am not an illustrator, therefore...

I went a new direction and have completely redesigned the logo without a plane. I think the new logo looks more professional and more representative of a web design business.

{link removed}

Your thoughts on the new design would be much appreciated.

Yaw Tetteh's picture

hi Deby
It is great thing to be a webdesigner. About I think the best logs should be self explanatory. I guess a logo that has to do with the brain , somthing that will show people about your web design stuff and something that would draw people closer to you. your first logo is nice but it does'nt tell people you are a web designer. You can do it girl so go ahead and do ti..

Chris Rugen's picture

I think your new logo design sacrifices personality and uniqueness for obviousness. That's a trade-off you need to weigh in resepect to your own goals/needs (will that prevent you from getting a client?), but I think the barnstormer/biplane idea is still better. There are a million and one web design companies out there, many of which use the exact same concept of the mouse arrow. Don't let yours lose its personality. Looking at your new/old image above, I'd still choose the original over the new one.

The answer might just be sharpening and simplifying the old brush stroked logo to give it a more modern, clean look. Maybe just GIS "propeller", pick one, and draw over it in Illustrator and add some plane wings? Perhaps a literal plane is too restrictive. Planes are fast, dynamic, sleek pieces of engineering and design. Maybe a propeller shape with the echelon shape of a full wing-span above them is enough to meet both goals: show the plane part, and imply something about the company?

But, again, it's a matter of what you want and need from the logo for your business, not what I think is most interesting, so take this with a grain of salt.

ebensorkin's picture

Unfortunately I have to agree with Crugen. Your naqme is great & memorable. You aught to take full advantage of that. I think the logo could be refined from what you have if you lost the pointer arrow. That would simplify it. Then you might try additional fonts, keep trying variations on the prop X etc.

What about a pair of flight goggles? They would be emblematic of the idea of looking & the look design & of the old era of flight.

Check out these!
These are pretty sexy
Scroll down a little & see the Uvex style? Wild no?

Anyway you could have a photo of something like these laid out casually on a white background or have them Illustrated instead...

Also check this out

Long URL huh...

Also What if you had long hair streaming out behind the helmet comix style? That would be barnstormer, & femme, all at once ! I don't know if that's an element that is important for you to emphasize per se...

Anyway. I want to encourage you to keep going & try more stuff. There is a TON of potential here.

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