When BuzzFeed News was beginning a big redesign, Dennis Huynh and Ben King brought me in to draw a completely new logo. We spent a lot of time talking about what BFN is, what their tone of voice is, what they feel like their journalistic role is and stuff like that. I love talking to clients about these big picture ideas before I start drawing because it points me in directions that I wouldn’t come up with if I immediately started sketching. In this case, the gist was that they are journalists in the traditional model, but their relative newness allows them to take chances and tell stories in unexpected ways. That pointed me in the direction of combining disparate, energetic individual shapes into an overall traditional editorial logo form. So… Serif. Unusual. Got it.
Aesthetically, everything revolves around the zz combination. It has to because the z has an odd shape and z + z creates an even stranger pattern. There’s no way around this. (I tried everything I could think of!) I deployed the old “If you can’t hide it, put a spotlight on it.” design strategy and started drawing ///// patterns and then reverse-engineered z shapes out of the lines. The rest of the shapes were designed to complement and oppose the stark result. The e is round and traditional. The w echoes the zz pattern, but in the opposite direction. The F has big serifs because big serifs look cool. The s is off at the end doing its own thing. Each shape is tightly wound around the shapes around it. The whole things is a carefully composed cacophony.
The dot came along after the patterns. My sketches had a “normal” N shape and the overall mark wasn’t iconic enough. The BFN team played around with it and sent me a sketch with the . replacing the bottom serif on the N. It was the perfect solution.