Designing a logo is a bit like trying to write haiku. It’s expressing something complex with just a handful of elements. It’s telling a long story with the utmost brevity. And it requires trial and error—plenty of sketching, testing, switching around—to evoke just the right tone. That’s why it’s so challenging, and also so much fun!

Every logo process is unique, and occasionally you get to work on one that hits close to home. Recently, we were honored to have the opportunity to design a logo for a brand new event: The District of Literature Festival, which will celebrate the work of DC’s resident writers, poets and literary organizations. Hosted by the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress, and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, this free community event will be held on September 30th.

Ideal Design sketches for District of Literature logo

some of the many early concept sketches

The identity for this event had to be prominent and distinguished—showcasing the breadth of what DC has to offer to the national literary community. But it also needed to be accessible and inclusive. This is an open, free celebration that welcomes the entire community, in collaboration with cultural organizations from all over the city.

Most importantly, the identity also needed to say “DC.” Specifically: the unique, diverse and wonderful city we know and love, not just the “federal city.” That’s a challenge we’ve faced when designing for DC-focused clients before. Some of the most iconic images in the city (the monuments, the Capitol, etc.) are in many ways more representative of America than they are of the District. So we explored visual references points that were more exclusive to the city—keeping in mind that the logo must still be comprehensible to a national audience.

District of Literature logo


After plenty of research and dozens of sketches, we created an identity that references the DC flag, which just happens to be—in this designer’s humble opinion—one of the most beautiful flags in the country. (Simple, bold and flexible, I have to imagine that this flag has inspired more tattoos than any other city can claim!) Most importantly, it’s entirely endemic to the District, just like this festival will be.

Stay tuned to forthcoming Festival web site for more information about the event on September 30th!