From a Gear to a Dot: a Lesson on Logos


Not too long ago, Sterling was in the midst of a transformation from a Silicon Valley PR agency to an integrated marketing communications agency. We knew there would be more to our efforts than staffing up new services, building out new offices, and turning on a new website. We were going to need to design a new logo, too.

We wanted something assured, yet approachable; professional, yet personable. Ours is a service business, and we aimed to illustrate just how hand-crafted our efforts are for each and every client. We’re hired to be storytellers. Our work doesn’t resonate if it isn’t authentic. It must illuminate, instruct, and inform.

What we needed was a wordmark that was as personal as a signature, but that stood for us all.

Old logo for Sterling CommunicationsOur previous logo, a stylized gear, was designed to indicate how we fit into the machinery of our clients’ marketing departments. We were literally a cog. A good one, to be sure, and part of a greater whole — but it wasn’t the most heartwarming of impressions. And lately, our work has become far more strategic in nature.

Clients hire us to help articulate visions for the marketplace and deliver experiences that showcase how their technology makes life better. That isn’t produced by a machine. That’s produced by people connecting with people.

In fact, any logo at all just wasn’t our style anymore. Our name, Sterling, means a lot to us. It’s been our reputation in Silicon Valley since 1989. So let’s just focus on that, we decided.

Since adopted, our latest wordmark has become a familiar face in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s unique in our industry, which is often focused more on technology and less on the people trying to use it. The wordmark works perfectly in black and white, and it offers an old-school charm without being dated. The letterforms are custom carved out of more than a few typefaces. And it looks stellar on business cards.

To top it off, we created a new bumper for our videos to animate the care we put into and (frankly) the fun we get out of our work. The dotting of the “i” brought smiles to more than a few faces on staff when we revealed the design for the first time.


Overall, the wordmark turned out to be just what we wanted. It’s a fluid design that speaks to our style of work. We’re fluent in the language of our industry and in the markets we serve, which is reflected in the skills we hone and in what we produce. And our work process yields results in ways where the effort flows around problems to find inevitable solutions. We’re not about buzz, or hype, or shock. We don’t go for flash. We’re pretty easy-going, but also elegant. Not languid, but elemental, natural, authentic — and always workable.

Just like our signature. Enjoy.