Northstar Logo (client disagreement)

dustin_ay's picture

I need some help. First some background: This logo is for an apartment building. My client renovated an old brick building with a crown on the top. They added two stories on top of this that look more modern. I used the contrast between the two as the idea for the logo.

I think its working very well, but unfortunately I am having a disagreement with my client. They want me to include the two lines (see the gif) around the star. The lines came from an earlier version of the logo that included other details of the window. It worked better in that version, but is not working for me in this more simplified version.

My client wants to include the lines because they didn't think the other version looked enough like a window. I am trying to convince them we don't have to be so literal. It's not a window, its a logo that took some inspiration from a window. I think the lines are ugly, unnecessary, and distracting. How can I convince my client to lose them? Or do you disagree?

Please help.

renuance's picture

I actually don't mind the lines. I could go either way. As a fellow designer, sometimes you have to go with what the client wants in the end. It may not always be the right thing but
unfortunately that's the way the design field works at certain times. I agree though, the lines
are not needed but the client may feel the logo seems empty at the top because of the free space around the star. I feel that the lines and the star draw my attention to the top and my main focus should really be in the shape and the N. Don't know if that helped but I tried.

timd's picture

First glance, without reading your copy, I saw tombstones. I find the arcs rather attractive and not ugly, however if you wanted to convince them to not have them you could try arguing that they are too light to print at small sizes (this might have the counter-effect of them saying, well can you thicken them so they can print?). Aside from that I find the lack of any kind of terminal on the bottom right of the old N a little unbalanced.

renuance's picture

Now that timd does sort of look like a tombstone.
I agree too, those lines will close up when it gets reduced. You have
a tough battle on your hands. Just be like Walmart....the customer is
always right and get paid for the work. Sometimes you just have to be
that way. Design isn't always glamorous

Quincunx's picture

First thing I thought when seeing it, without reading the replies, is also tombstones.

Da Kine's picture

Tombstones here too!

dustin_ay's picture

Tombstones?! Shoot. That hadn't even occured to me. You guys have any advice on how I could make it less tombstone-like? I can't change it too much, because we're supposed to be done with this and moving on.

Thanks for your other comments. Anyone else care to weigh in on the lines?

timd's picture

How about putting the window in a square, making it white out of the brown; or, possibly the introduction of a horizontal white line separating the two halves would make it more window-like; or, making the top N sit on a blue frame inside the overall brown frame?

BruceS63's picture

I saw a tombstone, too. The actual windows are proportionately taller, so that might help. Maybe have the frame of the window, with the window white or clear and where the top & bottom windows meet is the dividing line between the modern & the classic Ns. The arced lines don't bother me, but I do think they'll break up when printed small. Keep us posted.

Dan Weaver's picture

The building looks like a tomb so a tombstone might be appropriate

aluminum's picture

I think the lines help it look more like a window. I guess I agree with your client.

Solution? Give them what they want. Change it to suit your needs in your own portfolio.

cooper design's picture

An additional solution: That thin negative-space line that bisects the N, separating the two halves? Arc that line to the same degree as the arc of the lines by the star. The repitition might be more visually, if not thematically, satisfying.

dustin_ay's picture

I guess the lines do make it look more like a window. The thing is, I'm really not out to portray a window. I just wanted to put the N in a shape, because it didn't feel substantial enough to stand on its own. I wanted to use a shape that reflects the architecture a bit, and the windows stand out.

Do you guys feel its important for it to be recognizable as a window? If so, why?

Thanks for all the feedback!

Oh, and maybe it would help to see the type treatment, so here it is.

dustin_ay's picture

Good idea, thomas cooper. I think it would help if the lines related to something else in the logo.

timd's picture

Maybe a taller shape will reduce the tombstone impression, the present proportions are contributing to it, but you are correct that you don't need/want it to literally represent a window.

BruceS63's picture

Yeah, I wasn't saying that it should actually be the same proportions as the window, just taller than the current version to help make it less tombstone-like. I also like Thomas's idea of the line between the two types of N reflecting the top arc. Try it ans see. Can't hurt.

kco's picture

> Do you guys feel its important for it to be recognizable as a window? If so, why?

If it’s not to be recognizable as a window, then why are there so many details on the shape. Or why is it there in general? Why is it not a square or some other shape?. If you decide to keep it I agree with the lines. Give us a bit more hint of what it is so we don’t think it’s a tombstone. Plus I see you’re taking that shape from the windows of the building and they are much taller in the picture.
You don’t need to draw a window with its divisions and shades on it, I’ts just a tiny extra detail.

> the customer is always right and get paid for the work. Sometimes you just have to be that way.
> Solution? Give them what they want. Change it to suit your needs in your own portfolio.

Well in this case its nothing more than two arcs, and not a huge project but what about when it’s much more than that and it involves much more people and culture than that?
I’m sure many of you have read this critic from a very respectful man:,2144,2049898,00.html

I do not agree with diving all the credit to the client. As designers we not only draw and put letters together but we have to be able to sell our product with confidence.

The solution: give us a solution that satisfies both your client and yourself. This only means you need to pull this logo a notch up! Don’t give up, it’s looking good.

>I find the lack of any kind of terminal on the bottom right of the old N a little unbalanced

I agree with Tim, I don’t know if there’s an optical illusion that you need to adjust but it looks like you actually chopped that N.

Hope this helps.



Stephan Kurz's picture

What about adding kind of a roof style to avoid tombstone impressions?

[just very quickly edited but I hope you get the idea].
Edit: for more windowness I tried the following (which looks quite ugly, though)

aluminum's picture

> Do you guys feel its important for it to be recognizable as a window? If so, why?

Well, seems that it's more important that it not resemble a tombstone.

kco's picture

aluminum has your answer!


Marco's picture


About the window/tombstone: My view is that you have 2 concepts (1 being the two typefaces, 2 being the window). I think if you keep this type a square box might be all you need. Just my thought though...

garden's picture

i immediately tought it is a tombstone.
maybe recreating new symbol?.

Marco said about square box. It could look appealing :).

good example :). old school :D

jason's picture

In addition to what Tim & Kco have said about the bottom-right of the serifed N, I see a similar optical problem with the top of the right leg of that N.

While the bottom-right issue is more drastic (it's not just optically imbalanced, but actually shorter), the top issue is purely optical: all three legs of the bottom N are aligned at the top, but that far-right leg looks slightly shorter at the top as well.

Also, I think the white N needs to have the same stroke weight as the blue; at the moment the top N looks weak.

kcroy's picture

1) If the client likes it, it's what they are paying for. You should give them your best advice, but you shouldn't (imo) "convince" them to go in a direction they aren't interested in going in.

additionally, it is such a minor difference, that it isn't worth the effort.

2) unasked for feedback:

-I like the arcs.

-I agree with above poster that the stroke on top and bottm need to match. currently it feels like the "bones" of the N are ripping out. The bottm half of the N looks like sluffed off skin.

The color change to white is enough to differentiate the two parts of the N.

- I don't really think it looks like a tombstone, although the shape is the same. Maybe it was the coloring that made it look more like a wooden sign.

dustin_ay's picture

Hi guys, I've been out of town for a couple of days. It's nice to see that there has been some continued discussion in my absence. I really appreciate all of your input.

The baseline issue that was first pointed out by kco was an error on my part. Not sure how it happened, but I have fixed it now.

I have tried some of the ideas that have been posted and you can see some of the results for yourselves below.

I tried arching the negative space between the top and bottom of the N and it's not working for me. It detracts from the original concept and I don't plan on pursuing this option any further.

2B shows a taller version of the logo, while 2A maintains the original proportions for comparison. To me this does not appear to make it look any less like a tombstone, but I would like to hear some other opinions on this point.

> If it’s not to be recognizable as a window, then why are there so many details on the shape. Or why is it there in general? Why is it not a square or some other shape?

When I was considering what shapes I could use, I wanted the shape to reflect the architecture of the building. The windows were a fairly distinct feature of the building, and they have the added bonus of naturally framing the star at the top.

I did consider using a square as well, but I wasn't sure how to integrate the star. 3B shows the N in a square without the star. I think it works pretty well, but my client has been very insistent upon including the star and I don't think I could convince them against that. And I like that star anyway.

In earlier versions of the window shape, I did not include the flared top or the lip at the bottom. The lip at the bottom helps integrate the shape with the type and makes it feel more grounded. Both the lip and the flare at the top also serve to give it a little more of the character of the building. I am really just trying to take some visual cues from the building without being too literal about it.

> The solution: give us a solution that satisfies both your client and yourself. This only means you need to pull this logo a notch up! Don’t give up, it’s looking good.

Good advice, and thanks for the encouragement. Based on the feedback here, I'm thinking I may need the lines after all. I guess it may need to be recognizable as a window, just so it's not mistaken for a tombstone (good call aluminum).

Tomorrow I am going to try varying the line weight a bit so they taper out and see if it makes them any more palatable for me.

Thanks again guys, I'll keep you posted.

AndrewSipe's picture

What about a Keystone to break up the solid flow of the upper arch. That should remove the "tombstone" look of the window silhouette while retaining a strong recognizable shape. Then maybe set the star in the middle of the keystone.

Like in this arch:

Jspass's picture

Combine 2b with the white lines, or add the Keystone. Either way, the heightened shape is more appropriate (judging from your previously uploaded photograph). Also, is the drop shadow really necessary? Just a thought...

2graphica's picture

I really like asvetic's idea, now incorporating without over complicating the design could be a problem.

Good luck with this,


Lex Kominek's picture

The tombstone look might be eliminated if you show the frame of the window, not the window itself.

- Lex

kco's picture

To me 2B's longer shape seems about right, it just makes it look lees like a tombstone, maybe we just want it to see it longer but it seems to work, I can go with that.

I really like 3A, although your client might be already sold on the window shape, I'm not against it, I was just trying to question you on wether you can add a little more detail to make it look like a window or not? but the square works for me. For some reason (and I know it does not look like it) the round shape reminds me of the Netscape logo. Don't worry too much about it, its a completely different field and feel but I'm on the square!

Another little thing. Now that you adjusted the bottom alignment, there seems to be a little bit of stroke difference in its diagonal stroke thickness. Im not sure if you just pulled down the bottom anchor points or if its just a pixelation-screen resolution error since its so small, but you might want to go back to your original Slab "N" and shorten just its vertical stems again.


brandonlane's picture

for what it's worth, 3B has the most "apartment building" feel to it.
also i think the concept of contrasting the 2 different N forms is a strong enough concept to leave on it's own. incorporating the window shape only takes away from it.

but i suppose it's probably too late to change that now that the client is probably sold on the window idea already.

also the blue/brown colors definitely aren't working, especially when compared to the black versions.

AndrewSipe's picture

What ever happened? Did they go with any of your designs, or did you have to come up with something completely new?

dustin_ay's picture

Once I had the chance to meet with them in person, I actually had no trouble bringing them around to my point of view. I think the problem was that my art director had been communicating with the client and I was not there in the first few meetings. I think the client really just needed to hear some justification of why I did what I did, and they weren't getting enough of that before.

Ratbaggy's picture

kinda look slike a tombstone to me.

I like the progression and suggestions in the thread.

Paul Ducco
Design, Melbourne
Little Mischief

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