Listed buildings... often beautiful and important examples of historical architecture, but a real pain for a retailer wanting to install fixtures or hang a sign. And so it has been that we have been without a sign for the Manna House since we moved in over 6 months ago. But finally, we got our green light and now the Manna House has a real presence on St Giles Street.
You may remember our old logo; a charming image of the old building by Lester Williams. It served us well for many years, and for the moment, can still be found on some of our letter heads and a small version at the top of our till receipts. However, to continue using it would be incongruous with our new premises so we started knocking some ideas around for a new design when we knew we would be relocating. Eventually, the new logo will replace all the old ones wherever they are found.
Development of a Logo
Logos are hard working bits of design. They need to be recognisable, simple, and reflect something of the spirit of the thing they represent. Of course not all those statements are always true but it was once well expressed to me as: "a logo should be memorable. If someone can draw your logo from memory on the back of a napkin, it's successful." And it can be said of any design that the hard work of the design should be invisible; instead, simply doing it's job without encouraging scrutiny or praise.
So I started developing some ideas, endeavouring to use literal representations of manna and houses; though how one can represent manna as described in the Bible in a logo proved to be somewhat beyond my humble skills without it looking like snow or some formless mound of dust or detritus. I also took a cue from a colleague who had, in years past, played with ideas for a logo to incorporate an image of the quail, also sent as part of God's provision in Exodus.
But after many iterations, many of these ideas just didn't feel right. Some too complicated, others having the feel of a logo that belonged to a solicitor's firm or furniture shop. In the end, playing with letterforms seemed apt for a shop which supplies the printed word... Although the Manna House has become so much more than just a bookshop, it is still a "Christian Bookshop Ministry", and as such, the provision of Bibles and Christian Literature is still central to our mission.
Letterforms can be a lot of fun to play with. Whatever you think of these 26 little tools we use each day, they are little historical works of design that have been reinvented over and over to communicate different feels in a piece of text. Some text is very functional, some very readable, and others we imbue with a kind of personality when we say that a font is "fun" or "serious", or even "friendly". I've yet to make friends with a letter, but with the right curves and flourishes, a feeling of warmth, familiarity and even hand-made-ness can be elicited from the viewer/reader.
The lower case "m" and "h" felt warmer than their capital counterparts, being less angular and square. It also doesn't hurt that many contemporary brand logos opt for all lower case letters, too.
Serifs (the little horizontal ticks at the top and bottom of vertical lines, originally designed to help the reader's eye follow the sentence across the page) were added to develop some more shape and make the logo appear less austere. But normal serifs were too formal and squared the letters again, so by playing with the forms again, the serifs became aesthetic devices extending as curves from the vertical lines. Putting the serifs where they were meant to be, robbed the logo of it's symmetry however, so adding mirrors of the serifs to the logo brought back it's balance, creating a symbol rather than just a monogram.
The logo we have finished with has it's starting point in the initials "m.h." but through iterations has become a brand simple enough to replicate, robust enough to use in different applications, contemporary enough to carry the message that the Manna House is an ongoing mission rather than a tired old dog, and suggests a connection to the written word and the part of our mission which supplies Bibles and Christian Literature.
Author: Matthew Maunder