Logo for a Mathematical Biology Program

Scott Thatcher's picture

Hi, All.

I'm one of those people who usually just lurks, but I'm hoping to get some feedback on some logo ideas for a Mathematical Biology program. Do _any_ of these seem like directions worth pursuing, and if so, are there any improvements that might make them better? Since I'm a mathematician, not an artist, by trade, my guiding principle has been to keep things pretty simple. I'm also trying to come up with something that harmonizes well with the logo of another undergraduate research program on campus (the last image below). I don't mind general or nitpicking advice--I read those comments on other threads with interest--but keep in mind that all of these are in rough form.

Try 1:

Try 2:

Try 3:

Try 4:

Try 5:

The "Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Talent Expansion Program" logo:

Some notes on each:
Try 1 and Try 2: The four colored circles are meant to refer to Mendel's experiments cross-breeding green and gold pea plants. I thought it was a somewhat clever idea, but none of the biologists immediately recognized the reference. I also see "John Deere" in the color scheme.

Try 3:
The iconic graphics are meant to tie in to the STEP logo at bottom. Do they work? I can't tell anymore.

Try 4:
"BIO" didn't seem to stand out enough in black and white without some help.

Try 5:
Another attempt to make "BIO" stand out. I like the inset leaf in the A well enough, but couldn't find any corresponding representation of mathematics that fit the letterforms. Finally decided I shouldn't try. If this one is worth pursuing, any suggestions for the BIO typeface? I chose one I had, but it doesn't quite fit my mental picture and doesn't seem to harmonize with the leaf image.

Thanks for any help you can give to someone with great interest, but not necessarily great skill!


blank's picture

I think that these are all too complex; they read more like banners than logos. Try creating a list of imagery that must be represented and start working with that in black and white.

Reed Reibstein's picture

I like #5 best. I really don't like the icons in numbers 1--4; they frankly look amateurish (although I'm not especially one to talk). The reference to Mendel in 1 and 2 is a nice idea, but it definitely didn't become clear to me until I read your description -- and I'm a big bio guy. #5, with the two different typefaces, is the most interesting by far. The leaf in the A is a very nice touch.

What you really need to do is keep on making lots of attempts with many variations to hone in on what works. Two things I've thought of: First, try using both a geometric sans-serif, like Futura, Avenir, or Nobel, and an oldstyle serif like Adobe Jenson or Centaur to suggest a contrast between math and bio. I'm not sure whether I'd suggest putting "MATH" in the geometric sans or the serif. Second, maybe you could do something to correspond to the leaf in the A: placing a slash through the O in "BIO" to make it into a null sign, making the B into an infinity sign. You could also try moving the leaf from the A into the B.

bojev's picture

#5 is the best but still needs some refinement, take my word for it, I graduated from Truman State many moons ago.

Alessandro Segalini's picture

I am more attracted by the idea shown in the first ; may be because I just finished a work with Warnock, you know the definition of favorite typeface——can you use just two circles (green & yellow) and maybe lower case.

Scott Thatcher's picture

Thanks for the feedback so far. My original reply seems to have been eaten, so I'm posting it again:

I used to be the graduate student to whom amateurs with "proof" of impossible mathematical facts were sent. The "start working in black and white" advice sounds a little like the suggestions I'd make to someone who didn't quite know the basics they needed to know--good advice nonetheless. The big problem I've had is finding any imagery evocative of mathematics that's simultaneously recognizable to many people, still appealing to a mathematician, and simple enough for this purpose. I've made even more attempts that would fall into jpad's "too complex" category.

I tend to like the last option in the original list better than the others, although I've been staring at all of them long enough that I don't know if I like any of them any more.

auricfuzz, thanks for the suggestions. I've posted a few variants on the last design below. I varied the typeface, the weight, leaf placement, and some decorations in the O. I can't say that any of these are a good final try, but they illustrate the different elements. I couldn't figure out how to make an infinity sign into B without making it look like an 8.

I tend to like the third try in the right column the best, but I'd be especially interested if either of the last two on the right have promise. After looking for any additional comments, I'll probably give it some time to sink in, reviving the thread if I have anything new or better to post.

bojev, it's always a pleasure to find Truman alumni where I'm not expecting it.

Scott Thatcher

Dan Weaver's picture

Make it Truman (dominate) then Mathematical Biology (secondary) Program (least important). Think about it, Truman is the reason you have Mathematical Biology and its just a program. I would avoid symbols that aren't immediately understood by your target audience. I assume you have a target audience for this mark. This is a case of Keep It Simple Smart guy (KISS)

Reed Reibstein's picture

I'm pretty impressed; your logos are looking quite nice to me. Frankly, the feeling I get from them is not ultra-professional; they feel like they were done for a small company or university department, which of course they were. If you want to avoid that feeling, the three things that contribute to it are having the logo be a wordmark (instead of symbolic), using the caption ("Truman Mathematical ..."), and using Helvetica for "MATH."

My favorite is the fourth try on the right; I really like waht you did with the O -- obviously mathematical. To increase the mathematical sense, I'd really like to see "MATH" in one of the geometric sans-serifs I suggested (Futura, Nobel, Avenir). One thing to be concerned about is the "color" of your logo -- try squinting at your proposals. You'll see that all but the first and fourth on the left and the first on the right are darker on the left than on the right. This may be a good thing, but you may want to go for a more uniform feeling to it.

If you want to go an entirely different direction, you could go for a purely graphic logo (no type). Off the top of my head, maybe combining biological and mathematical symbols? DNA made of something math-y could be cool -- maybe something along those lines. Good luck -- keep posting.

bojev's picture

Weight of MATH on right hand group is good - something about the weight or spacing of the BIO is not feeling right yet, lower three are close but not quite. Serifs are good but could be it needs a different font. You are getting close.

Scott Thatcher's picture

Thanks again for the additional comments. I'll think about the "Truman" being more pronounced. This logo would mainly be used on the program web page, on posters and in presentations. In the last two contexts, standard practice seems to be to place the logos of all the sponsoring organizations, and often the official Truman logo is on the same page as this one. It might be nice not
to have to do that, however.

I’d really like to see “MATH” in one of the geometric sans-serifs I suggested (Futura, Nobel, Avenir).

I just have to defend myself a little bit here--MATH is in Univers (Bitstream Zurich, really) not Helvetica in these samples. Still a common typeface, however. I'd love to try some of the others, and I think I do have a version of Futura to try. Having said that, I do have a thing for the Univers Condensed/Garamond pairing when I've seen it in other places.

you may want to go for a more uniform feeling to it

The first pairing I tried was between Univers and Minion Condensed, and in that case, i did like the pairing that made the weights most uniform. However, when I tried using Garamond as the serif, it was a conscious decision (good or bad) to go with the lighter weight--bold Garamond just doesn't look that good to me. I liked the contrast with the lighter weight serif, but if the contrast isn't strong enough to convice the viewer that it was done on purpose, that's also a bad thing.

DNA made of something math-y could be cool

I really would like to find some nice graphical idea for a logo. My first idea was dna inside an infinity sign, but unfortunately, that one's taken. Our publications office suggested +'s and -'s as the strands of the DNA, but that runs up against the problem that mathematicians don't associate + and - with real mathematics (snobs, all of us). It was a good idea in other ways, but we couldn't quite think
about how it would work. I still have it in the back of my mind for when inspiration strikes.

These comments have spurred me to try a couple more quick ideas (comments below so as not to bias first reactions):

It's an integral sign as the stem of a leaf (in the worst case scenario, you weren't able to get that from the image). I like the second. Either worth pursuing?

Thanks again for providing a sounding board.


Ch's picture

is MATHBIO a logo or the name of the group ? do people commonly say that ?
if not, it may be another unecessary invention, more confusing than a logo.

if so, i prefer your original #4 with no icons, just the type.
i like being able to derive a unique feeling from MATH and BIO without using different fonts - just variations on the delivery of one font. clean, serious, precise. (see * below).
i'd even open up the BIO slightly using even thinner lines.

in general it seems there were too many competing motifs: icons, pos/neg reversals, font play, & combinations of those. keep it simple, and allow it to work in black & white.

as for your latest two, the more solid leaf will print better in small applications, and the general simplicity is an improvement. perhaps there's a mathematical figure/symbol you could directly combine with an organic/leaf motif ?

if i had this assignment i'd need to know more about what mathematical biology really is... is it more about statistics, or math, or biology ? theoretical or laboratory emphasis ?

* another question i'd ask is: what is the image you want to project ?
clean precise hard science, friendly academic commeraderie, educational vanguard, etc ?

Reed Reibstein's picture

I like both of your new ones. That's what I'm talking about -- making an icon that will be immediately associate with your department. I think you need to keep trying, though, to make it clearer and more aesthetically pleasing, although both are very well executed. In both, even though I'm taking Calc right now, I didn't immediately read the integral sign, although that doesn't mean that you need to fix it drastically. Maybe you could change the integral sign to a font that has rounded terminals to make it a little more obvious? But I do like that the current integral sign has a stemlike feel to it. Also, I didn't see the leaf immediately in the second one, but I agree with Chris that it might not reproduce as well. Keep trying different arrangements -- I think it's a good enough idea to keep pursuing.

Other quick logo ideas: sigma as a butterfly, sigma as the veins of a leaf, infinity as a butterfly, something with a square root sign.

cuttlefish's picture

Examine the structure of a cauliflower, preferrably a green variety (e.g.: romanesca, broccoflower). That should give you some ideas on visually relating math to biological systems. Pinecones are worth looking at too, and snail shells.

Many objects in nature exhibit patterns which can be expressed mathematically. I'd guess there would at least be a chapter on such things in the courses you're designing this logo for. Look to these objects for shapes to inspire your logo.

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