The Calibre Spade

CJ Melegrito
Calibre Blog
Published in
3 min readJan 12, 2016


A few months ago,

inquired about working on a brand mark for Calibre. He invited me over to the office for a brainstorming session.

Because the word calibre itself was abstract, it was challenging to come up with any strong visual metaphor. However, it all boiled down to figuring out how to represent Calibre: a service that helps to keep websites performing at their best.

We spent the afternoon discussing ideas — a few possible directions came to mind and we decided to develop three concepts along side each other until we felt that one was stronger.

Some of the notes I took during our brainstorming sessions

Ben suggested the idea of using playing cards in the logo. He reminded me that Calibre stood for ‘high-calibre’— meaning high quality, class, and polish. Eventually, we concentrated this idea down into the spade.

“From the beginning I’ve pictured a spade, or playing card motif. It was something that had been in my head for a while. A spade is the highest card suit, and I guess that’s how I see Calibre. That ace in your hand.

However, I didn’t want to lead the design process directly. I focused on giving each idea equal time to develop. I did my best to give them equal weight in the conversation.

Finding form

Drawing a spade from scratch could be quite trivial — trace over the spade from any pack of playing cards and call it a day.
However, it wasn’t easy drawing a spade that best matched the character and aesthetic of Calibre. Ben and I sent dozens of versions of spades. Although every nuance was trivial, we were slowly refining each spade until one felt right.

Some early iterations of the spade.

During the process we rediscovered “Calibre, a geometric grotesk typeface from Klim. Now we had a face that astonishingly matched the tone and voice of Calibre, called Calibre (I know, right?). We needed a spade that was based on the geometric curves seen within the typeface.

The curve of the spade comes from a familiar source: the typeface.

Not only did this pair the spade with the word-mark better, it also made it easier to refine the shape of the spade. The base of the lowercase ‘b’ was used to form the ‘bulb’ of the spade, the lowercase ‘a’ to match the curvature of the bulbs, and the ‘e’ for the width and height.

The Final Product

The spade in its final form— now in place as Calibre’s mark.

Following a few more iterations forming the spade into shape, Ben and I arrived on the spade you see above. Because the spade matches the proportions of the typeface, it squares fittingly into place, and scales nicely no matter the size.

Calibre stickers and laser-cut logo mark

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