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Retro Logos Explained

Pop culture’s love affair with all things retro and vintage seems to be an enduring phenomenon, making it worthwhile to learn how to design retro logos. With a vintage logo design, you can not only make your logo pop, but you can also create something so instantly recognizable that it becomes a statement as well as a brand.

From the sharp angles of 1920s art deco to the wholesome details of authentic 1950s design, choose your decade and put together an eye-catching and unmistakable logo. Here are a few fundamentals to know when learning how to create a vintage logo design.

The ABCs of Retro Design

The basics of designing a vintage/retro logo are generally the same as with other types. Leveraging common sense along with knowledge of your brand, product, and overall idea are the most important aspects. You have to begin with a rough outline of the logo. That is where some designs get hung up, so try to make it an easy-to-follow process:

  • Create a brief outline, whether you make a sketch or jot more abstract ideas
  • Research your niche, popular design trends, and competitors’ logos
  • Start conceptualizing in earnest, with more detailed sketches
  • Take a step back and reflect
  • Revise, smooth, and polish
  • Get feedback before finalizing

These tips work whether you use a vintage logo maker or get help from a designer. Your own process may go differently because every artist knows what works on an individual basis, but following the general guidelines above will undoubtedly be helpful. These are just the ABCs, however. You need to know the full alphabet to put together your own vintage logo.

Choosing the Color Scheme

The color palette you choose for your logo is always important. It is one of the most essential aspects of logo design because you want the colors to pop. They also have to complement the design itself, but you’ll want to avoid doing something boring or so overdone that your logo ends up looking dull. You have to consider the layout of your vintage logo vector, as well, to ensure smooth visibility.

When selecting your color scheme, you should think about the psychology of colors, of course. Certain colors evoke specific emotions, thoughts, and even impulses. You can easily inspire or lead your market in the right direction by paying attention to what each color means.

Yellow evokes optimism, warmth, and clarity. Orange is friendly, confident, approachable, and cheerful, so it likely will inspire the impulse to smile. If you want to evoke a bold, youthful, or exciting sentiment, go with red. Appeal to creativity and the imagination of your target market with purple. Blue inspires feelings of trust while making your brand seem strong and dependable. If your brand is peaceful, or if you want to tap into health, growth, and even the green movement, then obviously green is perfect. For balance, calmness, and neutrality, choose a shade of grey or a mix of black and white.

These psychological principles hold true for a vintage aesthetic, but there are subtle twists to keep in mind, depending on the era you want. If you are going for the retro vibe of the 1960s and 1970s then bright primary colors work. That is true for aspects of 1950s design too. Look at vintage car logos or vintage sports logos for examples. If you’re going for a 1920s look, however, then softer shades and pastel nuances will serve you better. Complementary shades also are important, but with an appropriate twist. For example, one vintage color combination you’ll see a lot of is turquoise paired with red instead of orange.

Finding the Right Font

A vintage logo font can easily make or break your logo. Typeface is a tricky subject because it’s imperative to find the perfect match. With respect to vintage designs, you will want to stay away from too many sleek, modern fonts, such as Century Gothic or Helvetica, even though the latter is a classic. Conversely, fonts such as Times New Roman or Baskerville Old Face are a bit too old-fashioned even for a vintage aesthetic. Something more stylistic is certainly appropriate, but don’t choose something that’s impossible to read. Likewise, you should avoid anything too frilly or fancy because it usually won’t send the right vibe.

Actually, the vintage look calls out for a mixture of fonts. You don’t want to get too messy or busy, but you will want to be bold with your typography. Mix cursive-type fonts with a cleaner, retro complement. To this end, it’s often better to design or personalize your own font. If you do find something you like already, customizing it is a perfect way to make it tie-in with your logo. Some popular vintage typefaces include:

  • Matchbook
  • Bazar
  • Hill House
  • Riesling
  • Upper East Side
  • Park Lane
  • Blessed Day
  • Candy Inc.
  • Playball

These are just examples, of course. Check out vintage logo t-shirts or even a vintage logo template for more examples. You know best what works with your own graphics, design, and color palette. Just do not ever be afraid to mix clean lines and bold choices.

Determining the Details

The details and graphics you choose will further the vintage charm. Think classic and bold, yet still eye-catching. That might sound like a tall order, but it is entirely within reach. Adding a vintage patina is incredibly easy, especially with a vintage logo design tutorial to help. Fade your logo a little, either by making it more transparent or using a speckle or scratch filter. Add a few sepia tones if the color scheme lends itself well to that. You can even go with a predominantly black and white logo that features a few vivid pops of color.

Top Vintage Trends

To find further inspiration, look at authentic vintage logos from the eras you prefer, such as the original logos for popular restaurants, beers, candies, or stores. To see how vintage looks translate to the modern age, check out logos for Walker Tire, the Lavender Fastener Company, Charlie’s Catering Experience, The Astor Theatre, and Tokyo Bicycles. Vintage gas station signage is also a great source of inspiration for this paradigm as well.

You will see a lot of contrasts, especially regarding the color and typography. Pay close attention to the spectrums and shades, sizes of images, and interesting positions and orientations, especially with the fonts and layouts. Many vintage logos also use framing techniques, such as lacy details or geometric shapes that frame the logo itself and draw the eye.

The vintage style is a bold-yet-delicate balance, and The Logo Company can help you bring your vintage vision to life. From the colors and the typography to the graphics, you can watch your idea pop off the page and admire a finished product that can make your brand a household name.

Nostalgia sells, so get in touch with The Logo Company to tap into the retro trend and make it work for you.

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