Logology

The Olympic Games are an exercise in branding

Friday’s Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony should serve to remind us that in a fundamental way, the Olympic Games are an exercise in branding. While host nations try to communicate a positive image to the rest of the world, the International Olympic Committee attempts to uphold the spirit of the Olympic movement in the face of mounting challenges to its mythology.

At the heart of these branding efforts are graphic identities that often have been among the most memorable aspects of the events themselves. From the op-art-inspired graphics for Mexico City 1968 to the Strahlenkranz (“Garland of Rays”) mark for Munich…


Logology

USC designed logos for its entire men’s basketball roster, while Texas and Oklahoma produced them for its incoming 2020 football players

The use of initials, sometimes combined with athletes’ uniform numbers, is extremely common.

As college sports have become increasingly big businesses in the United States, with many coaches’ salaries measured in millions of dollars and television contracts reaching the billions, the NCAA and its member institutions, the universities that field the teams, have had difficulty in continuing to maintain the façade of amateurism that prevents college athletes from being paid for their efforts. …


Logology

The Bélo mark has established itself as the most iconic symbol among those of today’s tech unicorns

SOPA Images / Contributor

Logos have become popular topics for public discussion in recent years, thanks in large part to the emergence of social media. And in the past decade, perhaps no logo has generated as much online chatter as Airbnb’s 2014 “Bélo” mark, formed by a simple line tracing a triangle, with a loop thrown in at the bottom. …


Logology

It’s not just a 3-digit number but a kind of secret handshake that locals — and consumers in-the-know — can recognize

“Screenshots last forever @NewEraCap,” tweeted @EricHarrisUA on May 25, 2021. Headwear giant New Era removed its “Local Market” line of baseball caps after being subjected to vigorous mockery on social media.

In a remarkable case of a company tucking its tail between its legs, headwear giant New Era last month apologetically pulled its “Local Market” line of baseball caps from its website after they were subjected to vigorous mockery on social media. The caps were similar to those that New Era produces for every Major League Baseball team, except that they were decorated with various graphics that were supposed to pay tribute to the local culture of each team’s city: the Statue of Liberty for the New York Yankees, a palm tree for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and so on. …


Logology

A deep dive into America’s long, fraught tradition of racist logos

A photo illustration with different line textures around a box of Pearl Milling Company pancake mix and a bottle of its syrup.
A photo illustration with different line textures around a box of Pearl Milling Company pancake mix and a bottle of its syrup.
Photo illustration, source: PepsiCo

The Black Lives Matter groundswell last year prompted reckonings across many aspects of American business, including branding. The criticism of long-established commercial icons like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s, which had been building for decades, finally reached a tipping point. The result was their removal from packaging in overdue recognition of their roots in racist stereotypes, and their eventual replacement. So it was announced this week that the Aunt Jemima brand will now be known as “Pearl Milling Company,” replacing the character’s portrait with a drawing of a 19th-century water mill.

Late last year we saw a handful of these…


Logology

The new look has already been compared to Goodwill, Photoshop and an elephant

The new General Motors logo in front of a silhouette of a car.
The new General Motors logo in front of a silhouette of a car.
Image: General Motors

Normally, when a blue-blooded titan of American industry overhauls its iconic logo for the first time in 57 years, as General Motors did on Friday as it announced its new focus on electric vehicles, it creates quite a stir. But it seemed by the end of last week that Americans had little outrage left to expend on matters of graphic design and branding. Sure, there was the usual Twitter snark, but in the unsettling twilight of the current presidency, jokes equating logo redesigns with war crimes just hit differently.

Nevertheless, there were the typical rote reactions to any new logo…


LOGOLOGY

Is the streetwear company that gamified artificial scarcity really worth billions?

The Supreme logo replicated several times over a red background with various templated graphs and lines.
The Supreme logo replicated several times over a red background with various templated graphs and lines.

The November sale of streetwear icon Supreme to apparel and footwear giant VF Corporation for north of $2 billion raised the question of what exactly was the retail conglomerate getting for its money? To the uninitiated, Supreme’s business model seemed to be based on little more than slapping its familiar red and white “box logo” on T-shirts and sweatshirts produced in limited numbers to create a perception of exclusivity. Could a logo really be worth that much?

The value of intangible assets like logos has been a topic of conjecture for more than a century. In 1912, the most valuable…


Logology

Why everyone from Goldman Sachs to Netflix is investing in their very own typeface

A collage of different images with various brand custom fonts like “Salesforce Sans,” “Southwest Sans,” and “Uber Moves.”
A collage of different images with various brand custom fonts like “Salesforce Sans,” “Southwest Sans,” and “Uber Moves.”
Photo illustration, sources: Banana Republic/Salesforce/Uber/Southwest

Apparel retailer Banana Republic found itself in hot water last month, accused in a lawsuit filed by New York typographer Moshik Nadav of unlawfully appropriating the ampersand from his Paris Pro typeface. But the attempt to add some sparkle to the clothing retailer’s brand — after a recent rough patch for both Banana Republic and its beleaguered parent, Gap Inc. — fell flat.

The recent appeal of the ampersand is undeniable: Its use in U.S. trademarks is up 31% since 2000. But before purloining Nadav’s ligature, perhaps Banana Republic should have considered a strategy being employed by an increasing number…


Logology

A contrarian take on Google’s unpopular rebrand

Google Workspace logo
Google Workspace logo
Photo illustration; Image source: Google

Anytime a company alters an iconic logo — or one that’s merely familiar — it inevitably faces a cry of public backlash. It’s only human nature: People are inherently wary of change, and the default knee-jerk reaction to any logo change is skepticism or downright hostility. For recent examples, look no further than Airbnb’s Bélo symbol, which Gizmodo declared “the sexual Rorschach test for our time”; Uber’s “atom and bit” logo (since expired); and Spotify’s crooked frequency waves.

So Google was certainly treading lightly through its recent rebranding of the company’s G-Suite collection of productivity apps to Google Workspace, which…


Logology

The soda giant’s latest imitation project is a relaxation drink that deploys all the millennial branding tricks

As if LaCroix, Liquid Death, and Topo Chico weren’t enough to keep the beverage aisle exciting, there’s a new water upstart slated to make its way onto supermarket shelves in the first quarter of 2021. And it comes from none other than PepsiCo.

In September, Pepsi announced it would launch a new product called Driftwell, an “enhanced” non-carbonated water beverage containing L-theanine and magnesium that is supposed to aid with sleep, although the company cannot legally make that claim and is left to drop vague hints about “relaxation.” Pepsi’s development of Driftwell stemmed from an internal pitch competition called “The…

James I. Bowie

Principal at Emblemetric, Sociologist at Northern Arizona University. Data-driven reporting on trends in logo design: Emblemetric.com

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