Take an observant walk through a neighborhood described as “hip” (Brooklyn’s Williamsburg inevitably springs to mind), and you’ll find yourself in the midst of a typographic trend: the resurgence of old-fashioned logos. In fact, the practice–marked by such flourishes as calligraphic fonts and heraldic emblems–has grown so prevalent that it’s ripe for parody. (You may recall an earlier post about David Spengeler and his efforts to reimagine the world’s most iconic companies as hipster brands.)
That isn’t to say that there aren’t fine examples of old-timey graphics that use throwback elements in novel, tasteful, and contemporary ways. Los Logos 6, a comprehensive catalog of logo genera from Gestalten, contains a slew of them in its Emblem chapter (other categories include Art Brut, Script, and Glitch). So what characterizes an emblematic treatment? A penchant for geometry, for starters: “The circle never dies,” the editors write, “nor do rectangles or triangles.” (See Roosje Klamp’s signet design for Max Havelaar, slide #8, for a geometric mashup.)
There’s also a yearning, even among upstarts, to be identified as heritage brands. As the editors point out: “Brand logos that–however remotely–borrow designery attributes from emblems, blazons, and family crests, play on heritage, and it seems somewhat secondary whether the brands they represent have one or not.” So if you’re looking to impart a “vintage” patina on a brand, all you have to do is slap a signet on some T-shirts–and voilà, instant history. In other words, put a crest on it!