Graphis Logo Design 7

Joe Duffy's Poor Little Logo (published in Graphis Logo Design 7) 


How can we impose such cruel levels of responsibility on such a diminutive art form? We expect the logo to be the essence of all that came before, everything we know today, not to mention all our hopes and dreams for the future.

Yes, pity the poor little logo. How can it possibly do all we expect it to do?

It can’t. It never really has. It never really will.

So many logos we’ve come to know and love, the ones we believed to have accomplished all this and more, have hardly accomplished so many objectives on their own. What separates the beautiful little works of art we celebrate in this book from those icons to which we attribute reversal of fortune or monumental change?

No single mark alone ever achieved significant change, monetary or otherwise. How many of the little darlings we admire in this book will ever be seen outside of it—except of course, in other books like this?

Here we celebrate the logo as a beautiful form of artistic expression and well we should. No other form of graphic design is as demanding of our reductive skills. Isn’t that challenge of paring of extraneous visual elements, without losing substance or the essential meaning of a subject, just what we designers strive for?

Yes…and no. I personally want it all… and I like my logos extra large. No, not the way the client sometimes does when they demand, “Make it bigger!” (sorry Paula.) Extra large in terms of what the little bugger comes to mean. But take note: it doesn’t achieve full meaning on its own, any more than children succeed in life without their parents.

Logos need love and love comes in the form of a designer caring enough to think about the humble logo within the context of a broader communicative form; a language. This language serves a logo in so many ways. First and foremost, it causes the logo to stand for something. It conjures up true meaning when the logo signs off at the end of a message, blinks on at the entry of an environment, or fades to black at the end of a 30 second film.

Context is everything (well almost everything anyway). You won’t see context floating around in this book—it was never meant to. This book is about celebrating all there is to know about one very little, very specific thing—the naked little logo.

I maintain there are two ways to do that celebrating. One is to appreciate the logo for its artistic form and what it achieves on its very own. As a designer, I can appreciate the crystal clarity that the best of these marks achieve on their own right, in their own little space.

The second way is perhaps more difficult but in a business sense, far more important. To look at how these marks fare as the center point of a compelling and unique language. No logo is an island. They all live in the midst of words and images that complete their “story”. That story is what separates effective messaging from all the blather we must trudge through in our day-to-day lives. We live in a world surrounded by so much marketing junk, which often gives what we do for a living a bad rap.

Think of the Nike swoosh and all it conjures up without the help of any overt meaning. Or, think of Apple. Who would have ever thought a piece of fruit could mean so much about technology and entertainment and life. And when you walk into the store, or open the package, or most importantly experience the first touch and sound of a device that delights. It seems so right that it’s Apple. The apple done in a proprietary and unified way—the Apple way.

When a story is complete and brought to you in a language that only one entity can speak. When the story moves you to become a member of a “team”, the little logo is a very large badge that you’ll be proud to wear.



GOLD WINNERS: Basin White, Fresca, Kerzner Marine Foundation, Mill City Farmer's Market, SeaFire, Toyota Trucks, V.I.O.



What others think:

  • very nice 

    joe Mar 5, 2010 — 7:57 am

  • I hired a graphic atrsit and we described what we were trying to do here. We knew what we didn't want and shared that with him. He gave us about 15 or 20 options and we narrowed and tweaked until we were satisfied with what we had left. 

    Maida Jun 18, 2013 — 12:54 am

  • I did not respond fbloraavy to his talk.a0 For a more balanced account and a clearer comunication of his ideas,a0 you can read about him in this interview. 

    Rohit Jun 18, 2013 — 3:39 am

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