Sophie’s Tavern Logo Design Critique 37

May 14, 2009 / Erik Peterson
Sophie’s Tavern Logo Design Critique Logo

Sophie’s Tavern Logo Design Critique

Kevin submitted this logo for Sophie’s Tavern along with the following commentary,

“Sophie’s Tavern is located in the heart of Camden, NJ and has been a cornerstone of the community since 1933. Like the city itself, Sophie’s has recently undergone a major renovation to improve the facilities both inside and out. It was decided that the building itself would be featured as it is such a recognized building in Camden. The main goal was to keep the home town feel of the bar to remind regulars and locals of the history and also introduce the bar as a great place to eat and drink to those who are unfamiliar with Sophie’s. A 3D model was built in SketchUp and then converted to vector art in Illustrator.”

The following critique is based on one designer’s opinion and experience. I always appreciate the readers thoughts as well. So, I’ll ask a question of two in the critique, please share your perspective in the comments at the end of this logo design critique.

Design Principals

This logo shows promise, but it lacks refinement in the building illustration and would benefit greatly from color. I have nothing against black and white logos, it’s just that this style of logo (what I’ll call the beer label style) screams for color. Is there a specific reason for black and white?

Question for the readers

please respond in the comments below

How do you feel about the lack of color in this logo? Do you think it could be improved with color?

The building illustration seems sterile and floats in it’s given space. It is almost touching the containing shape which leaves it feeling a bit cramped. Giving the building some breathing room around the top would be nice. The building should feel grounded and solid. Adding some context into the background will help. Perhaps the streets or sidewalks surrounding the building. I also noticed (from a the photo of the actual building) that there are some shutters on the building, perhaps adding those shutters would give the illustration more character and make it less sterile.

Beer Logo Style - Logo Examples

From left to right: Brookside Bar by jaredm, Bear Creek by bartodell, Kilkenny’s Menu by jaredm.

These logo examples show how color can really bring your mark to life. The Brookside logo has a very historical feel while the Bear Creek logo is an example of a background offering context to the illustration.

Functionality / Versatility

The logo is functional and should scale well. Being one color, it will work in almost any application without any modification. Keep in mind, there are some very small areas on the right side of the illustration that could fill in when reproduced at small sizes in certain mediums.

Does the Logo Work for the Audience?

The logo does have a certain sense of history to it. It is classic and memorable. For people that know the location, the illustration should be easily identifiable. The current state of the logo seems to be lacking character. It may just be the starkness of the front of the building being all white. Adding some light and shadow, without getting to complex, might help. I’ve mentioned him before, but I think Micahel Schwab’s work can offer some great examples of architectural elements in poster and logo design.

Question for the readers

please respond in the comments below

What do you think of the current illustration? Can it be improved with some refinement? If so, how would you bring more life and character to it?


The typography looks good. I especially like the treatment for ‘Tavern’ as it arches over the oval shape below it. Although I think the visual weight of the three typographical elements (Sophie’s, Tavern, Est. 1933) could use refining. The size of the year ‘1933’ and it’s surrounding oval is too large which makes it compete with ‘Sophie’s Tavern’. Consider reducing the size to around 50% of the current size. The asymmetry created by setting ‘est’ off to the left of ‘1933’ doesn’t fit with the symmetry in the rest of the design.

Possible Improvements

Designing a logo for yourself or own business is one of the hardest logo designs you’ll ever work on. So what is the best way to improve the logo? Well I think have made some comments above that can certainly offer some direction. Here’s a list of actionable items.

  1. Consider bringing some color to the logo. When doing so, think about the historical elements of the tavern and choose your palette accordingly.
  2. Refine the illustration further. Perhaps add some background elements to create a context and grounding for the building. Add more light and shadow to the illustration along with with the missing shutters.
  3. Consider reducing the established date so it doesn’t compete with the name of the tavern.

Overall, I think you have a good start on the logo design. And with some refinement you can definitely improve it. Please know that my intention in critiquing your work is not to hurt feelings, but to offer constructive feedback. I hope it was helpful. Best of luck, to you!

I appreciate and welcome your comments, and look forward to hearing from you soon. I purposely don’t cover every possible improvement that can be made to this logo, so go for it if you think I missed anything. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and appropriate.

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37 Comments so far. Keep 'em Coming.


By Rachel Ortiz

05.14.2009 at 03:25 PM

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For me, the b&w shouldn’t even be an issue. A logo should be able to stand on its own in b&w, and if it does, then color can (and must be) considered.


By csleh

05.14.2009 at 06:31 PM

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A few suggestions:
- remove the shadow from “1933” in addition to the other comments in the post, that will help “sophie’s” stand out

- the windows on the side could be a little bigger, to make that side less dark and scary.

- the house seems a bit plopped in space. It’s nice the stairs overlap the ribbon but take it further. Make the image larger so the stairs overlap the “H” a little. We don’t need to see the roof, so it would be interesting to play with foreground/background by making the roof disappear under the oval. Think of the oval as a window, through which we see the house, instead of a frame.

- from the photo, the lights over the window things give a lot of character. The banister and plants by the doorway make the entry inviting. something of that would be really nice in the drawing.

- yes, it has to work in black and white first, but this design is pretty much there. adding color now will really make it sparkle.


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