A design can be broken up into smaller portions using stripes, dots, triangles or any other repeatable solid shape. These shapes can be tapered (in the case of lines) or rendered at different sizes (in the case of dots, triangles or squares). Grids can be employed to keep the units even or progressively larger and smaller. Vector programs like Adobe Illustrator can be useful in creating such fragmentations.
Fragmentation can provide some of the benefits of gradients without the drawbacks. It can also give the illusion of different values while using one solid color, again, without any of its drawbacks.
When using fragmentation, avoid making any sub-shapes too small. Otherwise, you fall into the pit of Tiny Elements and Thin Lines (Deadly Sin of Logo Design #7). Rather than using twelve lines to fragment an element, try eight or seven. This is the very lesson that Paul Rand learned with his own IBM logo and Saul Bass with his AT&T logo (see Chapter 27).
When using tapering lines, it is important to avoid making the ends with too fine a tapering point. Such needle-like points can be subject to filling in or dropping off. Either make tapering lines with blunt tips or increase the angle of taper at the ends to make less visually fragile points. The value of doing this may not be apparent with a positive version, but every logo ought to be able to be reversed. Printing any fragmented design in reverse may show fine points that are in danger of filling in.
When in doubt, try a test print of the logo design in positive, and reverse at only a half-inch high—or even smaller—on regular or even poor quality paper. Is the print clear? Do the fragmentations remain separate and clean? If not, try fewer and larger fragmentations.
Recently there have been numerous logos designed that are made of many colorful facets. Some of them are beautiful. But they are also fatally flawed because they typically do not reproduce well in grayscale, having poor internal contrast, and do not keep their faceted quality when rendered as solid black.
With some of these identities, the designers have seen the deficiencies and have designed an alternate design for one-color usage with separated facets. But this means that the one-color version is actually a different design, underscoring the original design’s flaws.
The solution is simple. Just separate the facets into discrete parts with a gap between each element in the first place. This prevents having two designs: a separated and non-separated one, which are really two different designs. Here care must be taken so gaps are not too small, but it works for a multi-color version, grayscale and in solid black.
Adapted from Logo Design Theory: How Branding Design Really Works