re-branding placebos

mattbox's picture

Hello there , I'm a design student currently working on a project in which I am aiming to create a logo type for placebo medication.
I have hit a wall and would like feedback to help me develop my designs.
I am currently working on a stencil logo type
based on the rounded type that is stamped onto pills & capsules (see ref1)
I started with quite a light typeface made of two sections ( to represent the pyschological & physiological aspects of medicine that work together )

My tutor suggested to thicken it up , using the omnipresent helvetica as a reference.
i've tried this but now it just looks (for want of a better phrase) ' sausage-y '
illegible would probably be a more relevant phrase to use, but i'm sure you will understand.

any help or suggestions for further development would be greatly appreciated, thanks

ref1.jpg59.17 KB
placebotester.jpg112.69 KB
riccard0's picture

I’m not sure stencil works in this case (I associate it with military or heavy industrial settings).
If you want to maintain the two sections idea, what about just a white horizontal line through the word?

mattbox's picture

cheers for the feedback riccard0
were you thinking like so?

apologies for the rushed lack of detail on the letterforms

apankrat's picture

Does the logo need to reflect the fact it is a placebo, i.e. a dummy? Or are you just aiming at capturing the contours of a pill?

riccard0's picture

Yes, something like that, which could also resemble the debossing to cut in half a tablet.

mattbox's picture

good question apankrat,
The project started with creating a superscript glyph that was supposed to represent the idea of a placebo ,

I created this P+ symbol , as an alternative to the Rx symbol used on prescriptions
which would be used when placebo's were prescribed

so i guess i'm still quite hung up on the contours of the pill.
I wanted something that was a modern alternative to helvetica but with a medical/pharmacutical connotation
do you think I just barking up the wrong tree with this pill influenced type?

& cheers for the advice riccard0 I much prefer the horizontal cut into the type , it looks alot more consistant than before.

mattbox's picture

fantastic , this is great research
cheers riccard0

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Have you seen Pill Gothic?

mattbox's picture

Thanks frode frank for that suggestion
I hadn't until a quick internet search just now, very nice
I really like that the different styles are defined in mili grams, a nice touch
not too sure about the lowercase 'a' though, it looks too sharp

I was thinking of using gravur condensed as a body text
& basis for the logo type

what do you think?

typerror's picture

I think it might be a fairer test of your idea if the separations were not so wide. I see an F before I see a P in the name, and so on. ?? And thinner may be better to avoid the 55 gallon drum industrial look!

vilbel's picture

Have you thought about altering the caps at the intersection? Those are what make it look sausage-y I think. Also I like what you did with the 'e' in the third draft, maybe you could do something similar with the 'a'?

aluminum's picture

To judge a logo, we really need a design brief. I'm a little confused with it being a placebo, and emphasizing that, as emphasizing that it's a placebo seems to conflict with the definition of what a placebo is.

michaelbrowers's picture


Please forgive me for the off topic comment, but I have to say that I LOVE the title of this thread. "Re-branding Placebos" would make a great title of an article or book on the topic of the potential placebo-effect when rebranding in general...


riccard0's picture

Or pop bands in particular ;-)

JamesM's picture

I'm confused about your assignment. Are you designing a logo to be stamped onto pills and capsules? They don't put logos on those, they just put identification codes.

On the other hand, if you're designing a logo for marketing purposes (to be put on a label or in an an advertisement) I don't know why you'd pick a utilitarian stencil font. The fact that it somewhat resembles the codes stamped on pills seems totally irrelevant to me. The codes on pills are so tiny that most folks can barely read them anyway, and they certainly aren't designed to convey anything about the product except factual data.

The whole point of a placebo is to fool the patient into thinking they're getting real medicine, rather than a sugar pill, so you'd want a logo that looked very similar to traditional prescription logos.

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