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NCAR spent a great deal of money on the new official logo. Did management
ever consider having the logo created internally? There are many graphic
artists here that could have designed a professional logo. A contest would
have promoted esprit de corps while allowing staff input.
While the main part of the logo does portray an Earth-system environment,
there are several aspects of the logo that make it difficult to use. This
is not an isolated opinion, but the consensus of many users. Because of the
nontransparent background of the logo, you cannot blend it seamlessly into
a Web or PowerPoint or poster banner application. Additionally, the "NCAR"
is so much larger and so much lower than the main image that shrinking the
logo down so it fits into a standard banner makes the image portion of the
logo very small. Finally, the consensus of users is that they usually spell
out "National Center for Atmospheric Research" to avoid confusion.
NCAR badly needed a logo. I expected greater usability from such a pricey
Answered on December 18, 2001
This initiative began with the NCAR Director's Office asking the Imaging
and Design Center (IDC) to develop an approach to selecting the
logo/identity design. We initially discussed the option of conducting an
internal competition but concluded that this route was unlikely to succeed
in developing the full suite of products needed. Identity design is a
complicated and highly specialized area of graphic design, and we felt it
was important to work with professionals who are tops in their field. The
process of selecting a designer and creating a logo was subsequently
managed by an internal committee with leadership from the IDC. Through a
competitive bidding process, the committee reviewed portfolios from a
number of logo designers and selected Robert Taylor Design, respected
throughout the region. The firm does nothing but identity design and has
produced the Denver International Airport logo as well as logos for many
other organizations along the Front Range.
Robert Taylor began by conducting a number of focus group meetings and
interviews and then created and refined several possible logo designs for
the committee to consider. Management concurred with all the
recommendations of the committee as the project went forward. A clear
consensus in favor of the new NCAR logo emerged from this process.
An important part of the commission was to create guidelines for effective
use of the logo in many situations. We have recently completed a brochure
of identity guidelines that spells out how to use the logo in various
applications. The guideline brochures have been distributed to all the NCAR
divisions. Electronic files are also available from the IDC for
• Four-color logo (spot and process)
• Transparent white logo (placing over photos)
• Two-color logo (blue and black)
• One-color logo (grayscale)
• Solid logo (when gradations can't be used)
Janet Killeen, manager of the IDC (ext. 2304), will be happy not only to
ship the files but to walk new users through how to use them. She also has
the suggested typefaces and styles for both PC and Macintosh applications.
Samples of applications such as letterheads, envelopes, and business cards
show how the logo can be used with the spellout of NCAR as well as the name
of the division. We have worked with users on Web and PowerPoint
applications, and our experience is that the logo works well. We encourage
the questioner to call the IDC to get the appropriate file or to have us
tailor a version for a particular need.
A more extensive binder of production standards is being constructed that
gives details on how to apply the logo to everything from embroidered hats
to vehicles. This binder will also be distributed to all the NCAR
divisions. We are currently designing new PowerPoint templates and welcome
input to make them as flexible and functional as possible.
The goal of these detailed guidelines and standards is to make the logo as
professional and usable as possible in the many settings where it will be seen.
-Lucy Warner, Director, UCAR Communications