Tag Archives: logo design

Unchanged and perfect

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Marshall McLuhan called it “an icon” and it remains virtually unchanged after over four decades in use: Allan Fleming’s 1960 ‘worm’ logo for the Canadian National Railway Company was the overwhelming favourite among our design experts when we polled them for their favourite logos. Fleming had just turned 30 and was working at typographic firm Cooper and Beatty when the opportunity arose. CN had carried out a survey in 1959 revealing that people thought it an “old-fashioned”, “backward” organisation, hostile to innovation. Dick Wright, CN’s head of public relations commissioned New York designer James Valkus to study the problem. Valkus proposed a complete overhaul of CN’s visual image with a new logo (replacing its staid maple-leaf based design). He gave the job to Fleming.

One of Fleming’s sketches for the Canada national logo - Carrying a note from art director Jim Valkus: “Allan, make thinner &; we’ve got it, Jim” (image: National Archives of Canada)

The Canada National logo’s proportions explained - From the current CN corporate identity guidelinesAs happens so often, the idea came to Fleming when he was on a flight from New York and he sketched his idea quickly on a napkin. With Valkus, he then worked it up into the future classic we know today (there’s a wonderful image in Fleming’s archive of an early version with the following note from Valkus: “Make it thinner & we’ve got it.”)

The continuous flowing line symbolised “the movement of people, materials, and messages from one point to another,” Fleming said. “The single thickness stroke is what makes the symbol live. Anything else would lack the immediacy and vigour.” Abolishing the R for Railways also made the logo bilingual (‘Canadien National’ as well as ‘Canadian National’), an important plus-point in Canada, and made it more suitable for the many non-rail businesses CN ran at the time such as hotels, telecommunications, and ferry services.

the canada national logo on a train

“I think this symbol will last for 50 years at least,” said Fleming of his work. “It don’t think it will need any revision because it is designed with the future in mind.”

Fifty-seven years on, it’s still going.

CBS logo

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On Saturday October 20, 1951, CBS Television unveiled its new logo in station breaks voiced by a range of the channel’s stars. Jack Benny, Frank Sinatra, George Burns and Gracie Allen each intoned that the viewer “keep your eye on this eye”. The new symbol epitomised clean, modern design but the inspiration for its creation harked back to the superstitions of 19th-century America. MORE

Penguin logo

The penguin logo

In 1935 Allen Lane’s newly formed publishing company needed a logo and its founder dispatched 21 year-old production editor and designer Edward Young off to London Zoo to find and draw a suitable penguin. Lane hoped to repli­cate the success of the Hamburg-based Albatross Books and recognised that a symbol was a vital addition to the design of his affordable paperbacks, alongside the familiar stripes and colour coding that would define Penguin books for years to come. MORE

WWF logo

Image result for WWF LOGOThe World Wide Fund for Nature, known as WWF (it used to be called the World Wildlife Fund and still is in the US and Canada) has a universally recognised logo which remains a potent symbol for the primary focus of the WWF’s work: the conservation, preservation and restoration of natural environments around the world. MORE

Apple logo (1977)

Art director Rob Janoff came up with the rainbow-striped logo that ran from 1977 until 1998. “I designed it with a bite for scale, so people get that it was an apple, not a cherry,” Janoff has said. “The only direction we got from Steve Jobs was ‘don’t make it cute’.” The stripes were a reminder that the Apple II had a colour monitor. After 1998, Apple took its design in-house. The stripes were dropped after the decision to make the logos larger on products, requiring a less obtrusive colour-way.

I prefer the new one!

V&A or Tate?

Which do you like?

Set in Bodoni, it brings the three letters of the museum’s nickname, V&A, together as a unified symbol, achieved by Fletcher’s decision to remove half of the letter ‘A’ and then use the ampersand to reinstate the missing crossbar. The resulting mark is distinctive but elegant. MORE

or…

TATE 2 POS 100mm blkWolff Olins designed the current Tate mark as part of a rebrand of the entire Tate organisation in time for the launch of Tate Modern in 2000. “We created a new brand for them when Tate Modern was being built,” says Marina Willer, creative director at Wolff Olins. “We needed to create something to unite all the different Tates.” This notion of an arts organisation as a brand was unusual (and controversial) at the time, though has since become common practice. MORE

British Rail logo

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The arrows of indecision. The barbed wire. The crow’s feet. In the 50 years since he drew up one of the UK’s most recognisable symbols, designer Gerry Barney has heard them all. But he doesn’t mind. While the public was to gradually fall out of love with British Rail as an organisation, its double arrow logo carried on, quietly working away as a beautifully simple and remarkably relevant piece of design. MORE

Woolmark logo

This month I’m going to bring you some the best logo design ever.

First up Woolmark

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Created in 1963, The International Wool Secretariat (now known as Australian Wool Innovation), announced a design competition to create a global graphic identity for wool that would “hold consumer confidence and represent quality standards”. The winning design – a stylised skein of wool known as the Woolmark – was launched the following year in Britain, the US, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. According to the IWS of the 1960s and the modern-day AWI, the Woolmark was the work of a Milanese designer named Francesco Saroglia. MORE