The Nike swoosh, the Apple apple and the Target bullseye each stimulate an emotional and intellectual connection based on the viewer’s experience and associations with each icon. Each can stand alone without any proper nouns spelled out in type.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum was formerly the Weatherspoon Art Gallery. The University of North Carolina–Greensboro institution went through a name change in 2002 and took this as an opportunity to develop the King’s English-designed logo it still has today.

Graphic treatments were explored. Some played off the Weatherspoon building’s unique corner tower. Others took a whimsical direction, playing off the name itself. Ultimately, after a fairly exhaustive exploration, our creative team, museum staff and Weatherspoon volunteers began to home in on type-only options.

Type-only logos can be as powerful as graphic marks. Over time a typographic logo using well-kerned and customized fonts becomes evocative of what the brand represents. Think about Cheerios and Coca-Cola as two famous type treatments. Need more modern examples? How about Uber, eBay and Google?

In the design process, the Weatherspoon logo arrived when a san-serif, well-spaced “weatherspoon” engaged with a more tightly kerned Garamond “art museum” with an elongated “p.”

The museum liked the treatment for its simplicity and readability.

Weatherspoon was the married name of arts educator Elizabeth McIver. She was the sister of the first president of the university that would become UNCG. Her husband’s name gave us a fortunate lyrical sound. To some, the way the two type elements work together suggests a literal weathervane, with the top element pivoting on the bottom element. To others it simply suggests the modern minimalism of the physical space that is the institution.

Typography can be poetic in how it evokes feelings and expectations depending on factors like weight and variations of the alphabet and spacing. A type-only logo needs a sharp artistic eye to curate a selections from a galaxy of ever growing fonts (being careful to avoid trendy novelties that will kill a logo in a few years) and then make subtle or not-so-subtle enhancements to the type itself. It’s seldom a cheaper option than a graphic icon.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum logo has lived for 16 years. The original design offered the mark in four complementary colors, shown above.