The Do50.us web site (launching late 2012) needed a clean, flexible and straightforward logo. The final product is inspired by the highway signs every American traveler has seen. As you drive across the country - or even a state - the shape of the highway symbol will vary, but the number remains prominent. In fact, some highways, such as the historic route 66, sees an incredible shift in its incarnations. Even the header changes by state, but the number stays prominent. Similarly, I do not want to distract from what people want to accomplish. 50 marathons? 50 state capitols? 50 Wal-Marts? Whatever it is, the goal is really to do it in all 50 states.
More complex branding was considered: patriotic grunge, typographic grunge, energetic - focused on people, patriotic tatoo/stylized, patriotic overkill, and so on. However, the logo was dialed back for two main reasons. First, the design time required for complex and grungy looks is immense. By introducing that complexity at the logo/branding stage, the rest of the project's complexity would also be dramatically increased. Second, it struck me that the grungy look might not appeal to the full audience. People interested in this project are either (1) in college and highly mobile, or (2) older with the vacation time and funds to travel. There will likely be a gap in the target audience for young professionals who lack vacation time and funds. In the end, I worked from a Route 66 stock image to create a clean and straightforward logo.
For shirts and other specific use cases, some distressing would be helpful. With broad strokes of color, the logo can easily handle the modification without coming apart. The distressed logo shown on this page was done using the general process explained here. The image used to distress the logo in this particular case is an homage to my lovely wife and beautiful daughter.