Logo of the month #9

The Guild of Food Writers logo

The Guild of Food Writers (GFW) is an established organisation dedicated to excellence in food writing and culinary education. Its logo was designed in 2005 by London-based 300million.

Creative directors: Matt Baxter and Martin Lawless
Logo designers: Katie Morgan and Natalie Bennett

“The pen is mightier than the pudding, but they co-exist more than happily in this identity.”

Quoted from Logo, by Michael Evamy.

The 300million portfolio shows just the symbol, and not the accompanying text, seen on the GFW website (below).

The Guild of Food Writers logo

Site designed by Horwich IT Services — it’s my guess they were responsible for the typography.

The type is awkwardly spaced, and the background doesn’t help either. Not only does the graduation significantly hinder legibility (squint a little, or step back), but it also removes the deserved emphasis a solid background would offer.

The symbol alone is fantastic, a great idea. Shame about the site application.

Update: 26 July 2010
The GFW site has been updated. The graduation’s gone, but the typography still lacks.

58 responses

  1. Brilliant mark; horrible execution. That’s one of those kinds of combinations (spoon and fountain pen tip) that rarely comes around, but the execution is abysmal. 300million was smart to display the mark and not the horrible typography (expanded Arial?! Seriously?! The “committee” couldn’t have gone with anything better like Hobo or an italicized Comic Sans?) that is displayed above. Pity.

  2. Great logo without the text and gradient. Seems to me that the client wanted to accompany the text and the design agency lost the fight! :) I too have worked on many designs that I was initially happy with until the client choose to make “some” changes. In the end, I choose the initial design I was satisfied with to show in my portfolio. Anyone else do the same?

  3. The mark is beautiful. Simple and iconic. But I was really disappointed when I scrolled down to see its placement on the website. Ugly colors, harsh gradient, bad type… Great logo, nonetheless.

    Thanks for sharing, David. Nice choice for logo of the month.

  4. Quote: “I’m not keen on the type treatment, which is awkwardly spaced, and think the graduation behind the logo isn’t helping either.”

    That’s because the website design (and most likely the type) hasn’t been produced by 300million. Looking at the footer information, the site was designed by Horwich IT Services, and looking at HITS’ site, they don’t exactly give the appearance of a good design firm! So I don’t think we can really pin the poor implementation on 300million…

  5. Brian, sometimes I’ve used draft designs in my portfolio, rather than the actual outcome. It makes sense to showcase the work you’re most happy with.

    Alec, I’m sure there’ll be less contention over this month’s choice than there was last month.

    Jonathan, good of you to add those sentiments. I never meant to imply that 300million were responsible for the type, and have re-worded my post to clarify.

  6. I was a member of the guild when the logo was commissioned. However, I wasn’t involved.

    I believe the text in the example above wasn’t added by the agency, but by another party – a member of the guild commitee or their web ‘designer’ perhaps. From recollection, the original mark had the text of ‘Guild of Food Writers’ sideways and vertically as the remainder of the pen… However, I can’t seem to find this version online.

    All the best,


  7. Hi David,

    This logo works very well. I really like it’s simplicity. The implementation on the website is not too pleasant for the eye. It’s interesting how the GFW, after getting their logo designed by one of the top UK agencies, end up with this web design.

    By the way initially i got the spoon but missed the pen it took a few seconds to catch the whole picture. Maybe something with my brain’s wiring.

  8. Well, I saw a keyhole, wondered why there was a slit and then promptly thought of rather intimate body parts (and I don’t particularly have a dirty mind in general. No, really.) I don’t see a spoon at all. Not particularly good image branding going on if a pen nip isn’t the conceptual visualization that happens at first glance.

    I also find the image harsh and too… bold? straight? angular?…. but I think that’s personal preference more than anything. Had the logo been tipped and leaning against the T of the title in some way, it might have appeared more casual and friendly. Personal preference, again.

    Oh hell. NOW I see the spoon (only it looks like a spatula to me). It’s upside down. Yeah, I could’ve done without that.

    That was fun, David, thanks!

  9. I really like the logo mark too (subtle spoon and nib—very nice), though the web site is a disaster. The colour, the outlined text, too little room for the logo mark to breathe, and … I’ll stop there. Just one more thing: when the logo is set in black, it highlights the nib/pen concept; that’s almost lost in the white on i-don’t-know-what-colour background on the web site.

  10. I missed the spoon at first and thought it was a regular nib. Which, I thought was pretty weak. Seeing the spoon made me appreciate the logo much more.

    I wonder how it would have looked with a fork instead?

  11. It took me a while to notice the spoon, but it’s very clever. The website though… yuck. It’s a bit like having a beautifully-crafted canapé and squirting mouldy tomato ketchup all over it.

  12. Wow, I agree, the logo its self is brilliant when it’s simply black and white, and just the mark its self, but when they used white on a purple and white gradient background with the awkward type… well that just killed it… It’s a bummer when good logos go bad.

  13. GOD, This logo is the kind of work that makes me wish i had designed it. It’s so beautifully smart and would be a joy to show off if it wasn’t for the secondary addition of the type which is absolutely quiet possibly one of the worst type treatments ever and don’t get me started on the website execution. I think this is clearly a logo that was designed and then handed over to someone else with more programming knowledge than design. It’s such a pity for a great symbol.

  14. I agree with the masses – the logo is great, the use of such not so.

    The site design is poor in many ways, and the first (and a very important one) is that the logo does not stand out at all. There is more attention given to making the the site menu appear interesting than the logo. Yes menus should be easily recognisable, but from a branding perspective, the logo should be first and foremost.

    Looking at the site of the company responsible for the web work shows their own logo does raise some questions as it appears they (he) are more focused on the IT side of the equation than design. Perhaps more deliberation with regard to vendor selection was required.

  15. When I see logos like this it always reminds me of something a critic once wrote about Stephen King: “At this point he could probably publish his grocery list and make money off it.”

  16. Brilliant logo, disgusting use of it. The GFW is really to blame here. Why do you go ahead and hire a top agency to design your mark and then have it hacked to pieces by some junk of a shop? I can’t stand when clients have no respect for design.

  17. hey Bryan, that also happens to me, and when a client wants to make some changes and i dont think the same, i keep the original result for me

  18. Yeh great looking logo, it took me little while to see the spoon I was focused on the black shape thinking ‘how does it relate to food?’. Agreed, shame about the site.

  19. Yes GFW are to blame but I’d imagine this is a very common problem. If the client doesn’t have a sense of design and branding (and most small organisations don’t), what can the original designer do? I very much doubt GFW has a brand manager :-)

  20. Brilliant logo! Reminds me of the cleverness of the FedEx logo (with the arrow that one only notices at second glance). I love it. But like Zieglarf, I was wondering what it might have looked like with a fork instead. :)

    I can only hope that the website is some sort of ’emergency-cobble-together-job’ to have something up until the ‘real’ website is ready. It’s also full of horrible JPEG images.

  21. This is a real shame, a really great logo that works very well in communicating what it needs to but then the use of the logo is terrible. They should have put forward some guidelines of use or maybe they did and these were ignored. 300million have managed to produce what I consider to be a timeless classic identity here! Excellent work

  22. Ah, the old visual connections. 2+2=5

    Brilliant idea horribly executed. They have totally hidden the idea behind gradients and crap typography.


  23. Wow – well the comments have already said it to death, yet I feel compelled to comment myself.

    Huh…? isn’t this a bit like making cut off shorts out of a brand new Armani suit?

    I agree with Doug – “Brilliance… is in the simplicity of a logo” I love simple images like this – The designers seem to have done a fantastic job taking two simple images from seemingly far-removed settings and marrying them together to create a mark that communicates easily and beautifully.

    However, that’s where the project must have run out of budget and into politics, because the application of the image into the rather primitive website is nothing short of grotesque.

    Not sure what the whole story is there, but I’m sure it would make for a riveting dramatic day-time tv show. :P

  24. Shame that such a good logo icon has been botched like that when in actual use.

    The use and application of the logo in all settings is as important as the original design itself.

    So did the original designers create the icon with bad typography I wonder or did someone meddle with it later on.

  25. Great article David, and quite a discussion.

    I looked at the logo for the first time, saw the pen, then smiled when I saw the spoon. Fantastic mark. Expertly designed. The thing I don’t understand is why the Guild of Food Writers went and spent good money on a logo design, but it looks like some big whigs cousin who’s learned web design when they were in high school. It’s CRAP! And I just don’t understand how the Guild let that happen. On their website, I NEVER EVEN NOTICED THEIR LOGO! It’s buried under a mountain of horrible design. Everything you could do wrong when designing a site, from making the logo unreadable and terrible typography to really poorly shot images.

    All around sadness for 300million. I’m sure they were disappointed to see their logo in such a place.

  26. Wow! What a fantastic mark and what a horrible type treatment. Shocking really. You should submit this image to the “crimes against typography” flickr group from your previous post.

  27. David, when I saw the logo and looked up for whom it was for, I had to agree it was good by itself.

    I even went into a did a quick improvization. I actually melded a fork and a nib. Do tell me how the concept is?

    And I totally agree, the website has been hastily put up, very 90s and somebody made a huge killing on the deal :)

  28. Like everyone who’s commented, I love this logo. But obviously, the implementation on the site is dire, to say the least.

    I only wonder if 300million supplied some sort of Logo Style Guide, whereby the rules of the permitted logo/icon usage were clearly spelled out to the client.

  29. Is there anyway one of us can petition the Guild of Food Writers to do a pro bono design for this beautiful logo? Someone out there could do a better job than who they commisioned. Please. Someone.

  30. Thanks for everyone’s continued comments.

    I’m currently moving country, and will be slower than usual with comment replies. All my worldly belongings have been packed into my car (along with those of my girlfriend) — no mean feat!

  31. I too think its a great logo, it reminds me of the ‘is it a candlestick or two faces?’ optical illusion. Its clean edges give it real class and presence, but this impact is totally lost on its integration with the site.

    I think they missed the chance of a great site design there.

  32. Very interesting range of comments. I have to say I’m in somewhat of a minority based on these comments – I initially saw the spoon, but it took me a good while to see the pen nib, whereas most people who didn’t initially ‘get’ both, saw the pen. I also thought I saw a keyhole and perhaps a stylised tulip… ah well, I guess it’s good to be individual…

    btw, hope the move is going well, David… remember to take time out to pick blackberries once you get there ;-)

  33. I think! might be the concept for that ‘Conception’ logo in the Chase’s portfolio is different with ‘The Guild of Food Writers’ logo, same treatment but different concept. We have to see the process and concept, before give a comment for both.

    ‘Conception’ logo: sperm and circle :))
    ‘The Guild of Food Writers’ logo: spoon and pen (nice logo but lost concept in website)

  34. Going well thanks, Anne. I’ve not come across any blackberry bushes yet, though.

    Lauren, reminded me of the Egg n Spoon design, too. Both excellent uses of negative space.

  35. I really like this logo design it is clever yet so simple. i think my favorite logos are the ones like this a clever idea that communicates with simplicity. It is also certainly worth checking out the 300million website. The website design is different to any site I have seen before plus there is some really great work on there to.

  36. mark: brilliant.
    the rest: not.

    comment on mark: i would have softened the corners a little bit by *slightly* rounding them so they’re not so prickly. almost to the point of imperceptible. one could argue that it leaves it open to a serif or sans.

    perhaps even slightly arcing the top of the mark a little. it feels like it needs something on top of it being so flat.

    greetings from Northwestern USA.

  37. I too second that @Daniel…there is lot that can happen over the web designing….especially the typography and the breathing space in the website design …just not it ….though much improvement..

  38. I’m graphic/web-designer and I have situations like this very often – many companies don’t care about their identity and communication with the market. Sad truth.

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