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A Rose By Any Other Name
Dragon's-Eye View
Jon Schindehette

I love the name Dungeons & Dragons.


I really hate the name Dungeons & Dragons.

I don't want to be contradictory, but it just works out that way when I'm thinking about the name of my favorite pastime. The name is so evocative and powerful in a lot of regards—it really sets the stage for the epic scope of the game. And, as a designer, I hate trying to make a logo that really captures the same epic scope.

When I asked Emi Tanji, the dedicated concept designer for the D&D Creative Studio, to do a few design explorations just to start the conversation with the creative team about possibilities, she groaned and stated, "Logos are hard."

Yep, they are. As we've all seen, doing a logo redesign is fraught with peril. Look at the fiasco surrounding the Minute Maid, Starbucks, and DC Comic redesigns—where the public's reaction to their newly designed logos was received in a less than loving manner. The truth is that the poor designer is always in a losing position, because you can never make everyone happy.

With the above in mind, is it any wonder that I cringed when the question came up of what we should do with the D&D logo in the new iteration of the game system? Historically, we have retouched the logo with each revision of the game. If we look at the goal of bringing the game systems together, should we be touching the logo? If so, should we look to our past, or toward the future?

Let's look at the past first. I'm including an image of a few of the ways that we have represented D&D throughout the years for you to consider. What is it about these logos that resonates with you? How do they capture the essence of the D&D game?

When I started thinking about this, I came up with another way to approach these questions. Maybe figuring out what doesn't work as a D&D logo can be a good starting point for us, and it might make for a fun design exploration. With that in mind, I dashed off to ask Emi to "play" with a concept for me. What did I ask her to do? Simply put, I asked her to not design a D&D logo. Actually, I asked her to design a D&D logo from the point of view of a designer who might work for Nike, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and any of a dozen other non-D&D companies. What I liked about this exploration: it allowed us to put the logos on the board (we have a big set of cork boards where we toss up visual ideas) and ask ourselves why a given logo wouldn't work for the D&D game, or why one would.


So, what do you think? What is it about each of the logos in the image above that helps capture the epic scope of the D&D game? And if a logo isn't working for you, why?

In truth, despite the fact that Emi wasn't designing a logo for the game, several of them call out to me. I could see a derivative of #4 being used for a children's product and a version of #3 being used on a retro video game product. Several have that rock 'n' roll feel to them that makes me think of D&D. Seeing these logos for yourself makes you think, doesn't it?


Dragon's Eye View: Poll #1

 To you, the most important aspect of a D&D logo is:  
The dragon ampersand
A hard, aggressive look
A sword through it
It must be red
It has a retro look
Other (I'll tell you in the comments section)

Jon Schindehette
Jon Schindehette joined Wizards of the Coast in 1997 as the website art director. In the intervening years he has worked as the marketing art director, novels art director, and creative manager. In January of 2009 he moved into the role of senior creative director for D&D. Jon is a long time D&D player (started in 1978), and currently plays in a Tuesday night game and DMs a random pick-up game for younger players. He can be found on Twitter (@ArtOrder) and at theartorder.com.
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