Day 77: Design your own logo.Posted: March 18, 2011 | |
Logos are tricky. They need to be simple, intelligible, immediately recognizable, easily reproducible. Reproduction is not as big an issue as it used to be, I guess, but I have a hunch that the best logos are still those that fan-persons of various ages can sketch endlessly during boring classes or meetings.
Certainly the evolutions of the Apple and Starbucks logos demonstrate a tendency toward simplicity, and things like the Swoosh and the Alliance Starbird are simple to begin with. Simplicity seems to be necessary if you want your logo to achieve iconicity – and isn’t that the goal with any logo?
The other challenge is that logos are, ever-increasingly, staggeringly ubiquitous. I didn’t realize until just now, for instance, that Evernote’s logo appears on my laptop’s screen thrice: in the dock, in the menu bar, and as an extension button in Chrome. Twitter and Facebook have their one-letter logos all over everywhere, as do BMW and IBM and McDonald’s and a thousand other entities. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to escape this crush of carefully-crafted corporate symbols – even in my bathroom, there’s one of these.
We’re visual animals, of course, and we communicate entirely through symbols: even writing and speech, as natural as they seem, are arbitrary symbols (there is no necessary connection between the letters D-O-G, the spoken word “dog,” the mental “image” that the spoken or the written word evokes, actual canines, and the particular canine currently sleeping at my feet – only force of habit on a large scale).
I linked above to (an image of) the Chi Rho page of the Book of Kells – an image that was costly, time-consuming, and labor-intensive to produce, that was made by hand, that is somehow singular despite the fact that it can be reproduced in facsimiles, in books, and on the internet. I find it odd, somehow, that advances in image-producing-and-reproducing technology are accompanied by increased simplification of the images we (re)produce: as it becomes easier and easier to make and copy ad infinitum increasingly complex images, we instead make and remake simpler and simpler images.
It’s a long path from the Kells Chi Rho to the Nike Swoosh, but I have a feeling that it’s also a fairly unswervingly straight one, and I think it can even be seen in typography. I’ll refrain from making a value judgment; I don’t think it’s improvement or degeneration, just an interesting thing that’s happened. Someday I’ll write something brilliant about it – you heard it here first.
What does this have to do with my own logo? Well, I’ve decided to take the trend toward simplicity to its logical conclusion, and claim blankness as my logo:
Not necessarily just whitespace, but blankness in general: the sides of abandoned industrial buildings, billboards that nobody will ever bother to rent, empty parking lots, domain names nobody’s bothered to register, beige corridors in big office buildings, lonesome stretches of two-lane highway just after dawn. Anything anywhere that is blank, empty, evacuated, hollow, void, unfilled, abandoned – that is my logo, that is my sign.
I should totally go into advertising.