kottke.org posts about logos
A project called Chinatown takes familiar logos like Pepsi, Starbucks, UPS, and Lego and translates them, imprecisely, into their Chinese equivalents.
It uses basic words for translation, such as "Caramel Macchiato" for "Starbucks" in order to maintain the visual continuity. By arranging the words this way, 'Chinatown' pushes viewers to ask themselves what it means to see, hear, and become fully aware. 'Chinatown' also demonstrates our strangeness to 1.35 billion people in the world, when you can't read Chinese.
Responsive web design is a technique used by web builders where the design adapts to different screen sizes. Designer Joe Harrison has built a page with responsive logos for several well-known brands, including Coca-Cola, Nike, Disney, and Levi's. If you resize the page, you can see the logos change. Here's how the Disney logo looks as your browser window gets smaller (from L to R):
As the browser gets smaller, the logos lose detail and become more abstract. By the time you get to the smallest screen width, you're down to just the Disney "D" or Nike swoosh or Heineken red star, aka the bare minimum you need to render the logo recognizable, if only on a subconscious or emotional level. Which reminds me of Scott McCloud's discussion of iconic abstraction (and The Big Triangle) in Understanding Comics, which is still one of the best books on design and storytelling I've ever read. Here's a bit of the relevant passage:
Defining the cartoon would take up as much space as defining comics, but for now, I'm going to examine cartooning as a form of amplification through simplification. When we abstract an image through cartooning, we're not so much eliminating details as we are focusing on specific details. By stripping down an image to its essential "meaning", an artist can amplify that meaning in a way that realistic art can't.
The reason why those particular logos work responsively is because they each have abstract representations that work on that meaningful emotional level. You see that red Levi's tag or Nike swoosh and you feel something.1 I think companies are having to design logos in this way more frequently. Contemporary logos need to look good on freeway billboards, on letterhead, as iOS icons, and, in the case of the Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest logos, affixed to tiny tweet/like/pin buttons. (via ministry of type)
If you've ever wondered how a designer does their thing (or even if you haven't), this look-over-the-shoulder view of Aaron Draplin designing a logo for a fictional company in about 10 minutes is great. A nice reminder that design is truly about making it up as you go along.
I love Draplin. Internet treasure, that guy. And that lefty writing claw! Go lefties!
When the new Airbnb logo was introduced, the company caught a lot of flack from the internet because the logo resembled an odd combination of almost every sexual body part. I actually liked the logo right away and after a few months with it, the juvenile connotations have faded.
But you know what makes Airbnb's logo really really really look like a cartoonish vagina butt? Putting arms and legs and hats on the logo and animating it.
Airbnb is sponsoring the NYC Marathon this year, and the logo characters were created for the event. Maaaaybe they'd like to rethink this?
The rooster on the Sriracha bottle has made its way to iPhone cases, t-shirts, and water bottles. But no one (not even the founder of the company) knows the name of the street artist who created the now famous logo.
Over at Trivia Happy, Phil Edwards interviewed Ellen Lampl, who designed the logos for Mike Judge's underrated Idiocracy.
Some logos came from the script, while some came from the designers' brainstorming sessions. Brawndo and Carl's Jr. were written, while Lampl made logos for companies like Nastea and Fedexx once the overall look was approved. For Lampl, it was a great release, because "coming from the past constraints of advertising, it was cathartic to have the liberty to be bawdy and irreverent. Making everything ridiculously over-emphasized with bright colors, outlines upon outlines, and exaggerated drop shadows was my personal jab at the world of branding and in-your-face typography."
Somehow I lived in WI for the first 17 years of my life, was a Brewers fan for many of those years, and never realized the old Brewers logo contained the letters "m" and "b" hidden in the ball and glove.
Wow. If your mind is blowing right now too, there's a Facebook group we can join together: Best Day of My Life: When I Realized the Brewers Logo Was a Ball and Glove AND the Letters M and B. (via kathryn yu)
ps. If you've somehow missed the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo, here you go. Best kind of natural high there is.
Fine work as usual from Christian Annyas: a look at the design of the Warner Bros logo from 1923 to the present. The classic "WB" shield of my Bugs-and-Daffy-saturated youth will always be a favorite, but I do like the Saul Bass logo of the 70s and early 80s:
Affleck's Argo and Soderbergh's Magic Mike both used the Bass logo in place of the contemporary logo, which is the kind of little detail I love.
The Art of the Rap Logo is a collection of rap logos from NWA to Snoop Dogg to Def Jam.
Football as Football is a collection of American football team logos in the style of European football club badges. Here are badges for the Detroit Lions (in the Italian style) and New England Patriots (in the Spanish style).
If you've watched a movie in the past 20 years, chances are you've seen the animation featuring the Pixar logo and Luxo Jr., the company's mascot. Luxo hops in, squashes the I, and takes its place; here's what it looks like:
According to the Pixar wiki, there have been several variations of the logo, including the one where Wall-E comes out to fix Luxo Jr's busted lightbulb:
Others include 20th and 25th anniversary versions, a 3D version that premiered with UP, and versions from Cars 2 and Finding Nemo that incorporate story elements into the logo.
This particular logo debuted with Toy Story in 1995. For the short films Pixar produced before that, they used variations on the not-very-exciting theme of circular indent in beveled square, a shape borrowed from the look of their Image Computer:
Many of the logo animation variations, including the pre-Luxo Jr. versions, can be seen in this video:
Artist Lisa Hanawalt has been sketching big company logos with alternate slogans, including KFC, BMW, Toyota, McDonald's, Nike, and Subway. The Subway and Toyota ones are my favorite:
Food option. You need a fucking car unfortunately. Smell bread. Awesome.
An extensive examination of the evolution of the Star Wars logo, which went through too many iterations to count.
..Though the poster contained no painted imagery, it did introduce a new logo to the campaign, one that had been designed originally for the cover of a Fox brochure sent to theater owners....Suzy Rice, who had just been hired as an art director, remembers the job well. She recalls that the design directive given by Lucas was that the logo should look "very fascist."
"I'd been reading a book the night before the meeting with George Lucas," she says, "a book about German type design and the historical origins of some of the popular typefaces used today -- how they developed into what we see and use in the present." After Lucas described the kind of visual element he was seeking, "I returned to the office and used what I reckoned to be the most 'fascist' typeface I could think of: Helvetica Black."
Some examples of car company logo rip-offs, mostly from China.
And really, who wouldn't want a BYD instead of a BMW?
After using the same logo for the past 25 years, Microsoft introduces a new logo that echoes their Windows brand.
The Microsoft brand is about much more than logos or product names. We are lucky to play a role in the lives of more than a billion people every day. The ways people experience our products are our most important "brand impressions". That's why the new Microsoft logo takes its inspiration from our product design principles while drawing upon the heritage of our brand values, fonts and colors.
With the Olympics about two weeks away, consider this a final you-can't-unsee-it reminder that the 2012 London Olympics logo looks like Lisa Simpson performing oral sex.
It's not as bad as some of the others on this list (oh, that Mon-Sat logo), but it's still exceptionally unforgettable. Enjoy the wall-to-wall Olympic coverage for the next two weeks!
A beautiful collection of railroad company logos that show the evolution of logo design from 1845 to 2000.
Designer Adam Ladd asked his five-year-old daughter for her impressions of several well-known logos. This is great:
A lovely collection of hand-lettered American department store logos from the late 19th and early 20th century.
Steven Heller writes about the 40th anniversary of Nike's iconic swoosh, one of the best logos ever designed.
The origin of the mark goes like this: Knight wanted to differentiate BRS's custom product from the ones they were importing from Onituska in Japan: "...so Knight turned to a graphic design student he met at Portland State University two years earlier." One day in 1969, the student, Carolyn Davidson, was approached by Knight and offered $2 per hour "to make charts and graphics" for his business. For the next two years Davidson managed the design work on BRS. "Then one day Phil asked me if I wanted to work on a shoe stripe," Davidson recalled. The only advice she received was to "Make the stripe supportive of the shoe." Davidson came up with half a dozen options. None of the options "captivated anyone" so it came down to "which was the least awful."
Fauxgo is a site that collects fictional logos from movies and TV shows.
Logo Tourist is a project by Risto-Jussi Isopahkala that depicts cityscapes and famous Parisian landmarks made up of famous logos. Here's the Arc de Triumph (sponsored by Pepsi and Adidas):
See also Logorama.
IANAHRSYMMV**, but here are some well-known English language logos redesigned and translated into Hebrew language logos. Nice student work from a class taught by Oded Ezer.
** I am a not a Hebrew reader so your mileage may vary.
One of the films up for the Best Animated Short Oscar is called Logorama. It's a Pulp Fiction-inspired ditty composed almost entirely of inventively used corporate logos. A screenshot is instructive in illustrating what I'm talking about:
This is a nearly perfect outsiders view of the US. Watch the whole thing here.
Deep in the conservative bowels of corporations and brand identity firms, they've got cute little nicknames for logos. The GE logo is The Meatball, the AT&T logo is The Death Star, and the Warner logo is Two and a Half Hot Dogs. (via quips)
Q: Copy from the NY Times about a logo or a description of some kind of weird Star Trek-themed pornography?
Bouncy new blue "ee" twins seem to laugh under a colorful spray.
A: Surprisingly, the Times (slide #4).
The Very Hungry Caterpillar was one of my favorite books when I was a kid and I've loved reading it to Ollie over the past few months. So of course, Google's logo today is aces.
Now do Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs!
This post on the Wolfram blog about using Mathematica to play around with logo designs provides a tantalzing glimpse into how useful the program could be as a graphic design tool.
Take a logo as simple as the Mercedes-Benz star. Just three points framed by a circle, its geometry is easily described in a few lines of Mathematica code, with some obvious parameters controlling the number of points on the star, the sharpness of the star's points, the thickness of the outer circle, and the orientation of the star.
Paging Joshua Davis. (via waxy)
Brand New runs down the best and worst new logos of 2008. Some of the bad ones are downright awful...the WGN one is crazy bad.
Great two-part video interview with Sol Sender about designing the logo for the Obama campaign. Includes some early design sketches and other designs that made it to the final phase. (via quips)
Steven Heller spoke with the designer Sol Sender about his iconic Obama "O" logo.
Well, the "O" was the identity for the Obama '08 campaign and the campaign is over. That doesn't mean that the mark will be forgotten; I think the memorabilia from this campaign will have a long shelf life and will stand as a visible symbol of pride for people who supported the candidate and for those who see it as a representation of a watershed moment for our country. As far as having another life, I can't say. Perhaps the 2012 campaign will hark back to it in some way.
Sender's web site has a bit more info on the development of the Obama brand.
What do I think about the new Pepsi logo? Eh. Companies spend way too much time, effort, and money building up feelings about logos -- like decades and billions of dollars -- and then they just go and change it all. Of course the new logo and colors are similar to the old ones and it's variations on a theme but the new designs feel like someone's idea of what packaging is going to look like 10 years from now, an approach that never seems to work out well (see Back to the Future II). Coca-Cola had such success refreshing their brand with a simple take on their classic look and logo, why can't Pepsi do the same with this classic look?
Photos of 99 different ecstasy pills with logos on them, including those with McDonald's, Mercedes, MTV, Harry Potter, and Apple logos.
The logo for A.G. Low Construction is the best one I've seen in awhile.
Nice work by design student Rebecca Low, who I'm assuming is related to the A.G. Low in question. (via monoscope)
Raymond Loewy is well-known as an industrial designer but he was also responsible for some of the world's most iconic logos. Pictured below are several sketches that Loewy did for the new Exxon logo:
Big business moved more slowly back then; the sketches were done by Loewy in 1966 but the name change and new logo didn't go into effect until 1972. Loewy was also responsible for several other logos: Shell, Hoover, BP, Nabisco, Canada Dry, and U.S. Mail.
A list of all the US presidential election logos from 1960-2008. That's a whole lot of red and blue. I particularly liked 1988's Dick "Chrysler" Gephardt and Paul Simon's Top Gun homage. (via quips)
If you can ignore the stupid one-logo-per-page interface, check out the 25 best band logos.
Clever smugglers have been using trucks adorned with FedEx, Wal-Mart, and other familiar logos in order to spirit drugs, money, and illegal aliens across the US/Mexican border.
In another case, a truck painted with DirecTV and other markings was pulled over in a routine traffic stop in Mississippi and discovered to be carrying 786 pounds of cocaine. Police said they became suspicious because the truck carried the markings or DirecTV and several of its rivals. An 800 number on the truck's rear to report bad driving referred callers to an adult sex chat line.
Liquidated Logos by French street artist Zevs.
Re-painting the logos in their own colours, the artist pours paint over them, liquidating one logo after another.
I am a sucker for dripping paint.
A history and analysis of the Batman logo from 1939 to the present, in five parts: 1, 2, 3. 4, 5. More logo studies by the same fellow here. (thx, david)
Video of a bunch of TV production company logos...you know, the ones that usually follow the shows, "sit Ubu sit, good dog" and the like.
Cartype: "A comprehensive collection of reviews and study of typographical applications of emblems, car company logos and car logos with images, comments, links, car company information and general interest."
On brand indentities that are flexible (vs. those that are static). Examples: Google's logo, Target's bullseye, and Saks' jumbly identity. "As advertising agencies lose their grip on the communications channels, the logos are starting to come out of the corner. Once pushed as far over to the bottom right as possible, they're becoming central to communication, no longer content to just be the the full-stop at the end of a piece of branded communication." (via quipsologies)
A rare positive review from Speak Up of the new London 2012 that everyone else in the world seems to hate. "I believe, despite any ensuing boo's, that this is some of the most innovative and daring identity work we have seen in this new millennium, and the lack of cheesy and imagination-impairing gradients gives me hope that identity work can still be resurrected on a larger scale."
Update: Coudal loves the logo.
Instead of giving out wasteful schwag bags and tshirts that no one wears, the Interesting 2007 conference is asking participants to provide their own used tshirts (they'll screenprint the logo on it) and will be using plain old plastic bags with the conference logo screenprinted on them. What a great twist on recycling. (via bbj)
The mid-2000s may be seen in the future as not such a fantastic time for logo design. One further piece of evidence: the what-were-they-thinking? new design for the Dairy Queen logo. "[The] gold and blue curved swishes [signify] food and treats." Don't know about you, but that blue swish make me want to cram ice cream down my treat-hole!
A list of well-know logos & brands and their design histories.
Update: I took out the link because several people told me that the site I was linking to has a history of taking other's content and passing it off as their own.
The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics has a logo that changes every time it gets used on letterhead or displayed on a web site. The logo system was designed by Michael Schmitz and is based on cellular automata like John Conway's Game of Life. "Parameters [for the logo] are coupled to certain factors: number of employees = density, funding = speed, number of publications = activity. Different logos are being 'bred' and then picked by fitness in relation to the parameters or voted for by the employees." Schmitz's PDF document Evolving Logo is worth a look even if you don't read German. (Anyone want to do a translation? It looks fascinating.) (via bbj)
Web 2.0 style redesigns of famous logos. The BoeingBoeing one is pretty clever. (thx, mark)
Reviews of some recent logo redesigns. That new MasterCard logo is...yikes.
Short remembrance by Rob Janoff about designing the logo for Apple Computer. The logo was to be black & white to save on printing costs, but "Jobs was resolute, arguing that color was the key to humanizing the company".
The history of the NBA logo...and yes, that's Jerry West. (via th)
A grid of logos of Web 2.0 companies. These names sound like a bunch of companies that make children's toys (which when you think about it, isn't too far from the truth).
Update: Original here.
Kodak has themselves a new logo and gosh it looks plain and boring and undistinctive. Who are the folks convincing companies like Intel and Kodak that these logo/brand overhauls are going to revitalize their companies? Revitalization is a hard business...a new coat of paint isn't going to cut it.
Update: More on Kodak's new logo at Speak Up.
Intel is retiring the "Intel Inside" saying/logo and is getting a new company logo as well...no more of the familiar "dropped e" logo. Now they'll look like everyone else.
I missed this while in Asia last month, but AT&T has a new logo, which is pretty much the same as the old one.
Examination of how US states brand themselves, focusing on state logos, license plates, and slogans.
Michael Bierut offers a requiem for the AT&T logo by Saul Bass. SBC is buying AT&T, keeping the name, but introducing a new logo.
Rafael Esquer just showed some of his most recent work here at the Student Conference. I like his Made in NY logo that he did for NYC. Here's a short interview with Esquer.
Todd Radom designs sports logos, including ones for the Super Bowl, Fenway Park's 90th anniversary, and the new Cleveland Browns. Read about his design for the Washington Nationals logo in Fast Company.
Custom chrome emblems for your car, Segway, motorbike, or laptop computer.
Using information from the USPTO to track how logo design in the US has changed over time. "Using this database, innovations and trends in the design of trademarks can be tracked and dissected. For example, the rise of the swoosh element, concentrated among internet and telecommunications firms in particular, can be seen developing in the mid-1990s."