| Evolution of a Logo
Coca-Cola. Nike. McDonald’s. There’s no denying the power
of effective branding—these names have become synonymous with global
profitability. Much of that strength is embodied in the companies’
visual identities: the brandmark. For Nike, it’s the “swoosh;”
for McDonald’s, the ubiquitous yellow arch.
But imagine what would happen if Nike had two visual manifestations
of the familiar swoosh. Clearly, the brand identity would not be as
That’s exactly what happened at Johns Hopkins Medicine. For
years, it had two brandmarks: a blue and white dome in a square, and
a white dome in a triangle labeled “research, teaching and patient
care.” Until, that is, JHM leaders asked graphic designer Max
Boam, director of creative services in the Office of Corporate Communications,
to heighten the institution’s identity by incorporating the existing
brandmarks into one.
Step 1: The triangle becomes the
basis of the logo.
Using the more recent version, which incorporates the tripartite
mission triangle as the basis for the new logo, Boam changed the
white dome to navy to create a bolder contrast. But the mark still
had flaws. The spaces between the letters in Medicine were greater
than the distance between them and Johns Hopkins. What’s
more, the letters in Medicine were thinner than the letters in
Research, Teaching and Patient Care. At smaller sizes, Medicine
would always reproduce poorly.
Step 2: Medicine becomes bolder.
One solution was to use a thicker, bolder typeface for Medicine.
The result was a more balanced whole that integrated with the
triangle and reproduced well, even at small sizes. But the letters
in Medicine were still too far apart.
Step 3: A more balanced whole is created.
Boam tackled the problems by tightening the spacing. “We
read word shapes, not individual letters. Too much space between
letters makes comprehension slow,” he says. Now, the three
elements were balanced, the words readable, and the J was no longer
hanging. Still, the brandmark needed a more modern look. So Boam
removed the words from the triangle, closed the small gaps to
form a solid whole, and created a three-dimensional feel through
The official brandmark.
The new brandmark has a much cleaner
appearance with a dimensional element that adds form to the triangle
graphic. The hanging J was restored to be more in concert with
the University’s logo. Departments and divisions are urged
to embrace the new brandmark. To download the brandmark and the
Graphic Standards Guide, visit www.hopkinsmedicine.org/graphicstandards.