Logos Is Hard

Posted inThe Daily Heller
Thumbnail for IMPACT Design for Social Change Returns

“Dying is easy, comedy is hard,” the famous quote goes. Similarly (albeit ungrammatically), you could say, “design is easy, logos is hard.” What Paul Rand called “the rabbit’s foot” is a difficult conceptual design process even for masters of the form. But that doesn’t stop designers from making logos, companies using them, and competitions from showering them with kudos when kudos are due–or not.

After viewing the international winners of this year’s Wolda, the Worldwide Logo Design Annual, I was a little dismayed by what the jury awarded “Best of the World” in the categories of both “Talent” (above) and “Professional” (below). The former was designed for a Japanese music label, Atsushi Yamamoto Records Tokyo KK, by Daniel A. Becker; the latter was designed by Landor Associates Sydney for News Limited’s One Degree initiative to battle climate change.

Although the upside-down elephant is amusing, and the One Degree mark (looking like a supplicant with bended head) gets the message across, I question whether they are indeed the “Best in the World” or just the best of what they had to choose from–a fundamental problem with all competitions. In fact, with the exception of the “Best of Malta” (below middle), designed for Safeguard by Bulldog, and the unreadable though nonetheless clever “Best of Serbia,” (bottom, see the chairs?) designed by Kontra Studio, the rest of these “Bests” are rather lackluster. Maybe “Best of” is too loaded a term. Perhaps “Good of …” would be safer.

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →