Who doesn’t love a well-designed logo? Really, when done well, logos are a wonderful exercise of concise creativity, of suggestion and clarity.
A few years back, my brother retired as a Naval aviator and a few years later, joined Federal Express. I always liked Federal Express–the legend of Fred Smith’s “C” from Yale when he first floated the idea, the hilarious television commercials from BBDO, and that bold, graphic blue and orange logo. What I never noticed until my brother pointed it out, was the arrow hidden in the negative space between the “E” and the “X.” What a lovely, subtle touch.
For much the same reason, I love the Big 10 logo that was introduced back in 1990 when Penn State joined the conference. Of course, the Nittany Lions make the actual count eleven, but no one wanted to go around saying “Big Eleven” when “Big Ten” had so much history and sounded so much better…not to mention, it is so wonderfully metric. As a solution, their clever logo designers hid the number “11” in the negative space. Again, lovely and subtle.
But really, the whole notion of subtlety went out the window when Facebook, the 900 pound gorilla of the internet, decided to get into the location app business with Facebook Places. Facebook Places is one of those ‘innovations’ that people with no sense of privacy or boundaries think is pretty cool, much like the stalker/home burglar favorite app “Foursquare.” Look, I admit I’m wildly out of synch on this one because candidly, once I leave work and my clients, I can relate to Superman’s notion of his Fortress of Solitude. I only want to be with my wife and girls and dog and thus far, far away from work and responsibility. So I never will activate Facebook Places-that’s just not my thing. But it’s a very big thing for Facebook, simply because Facebook is itself a very big thing. And so Facebook Places represents nothing short of a deathknell for Foursquare which, while leading the entire notion of geolocating and creating wonderfully engaging tags and recognition for it’s most dedicated players, simply lacks the sheer, subscription heft of a behemoth like Facebook. Which is why I think it’s fascinating that, underneath the point of the pick-like ‘locator’ in the Facebook Places logo, a very distinct “4” lies visible on the map.
Coincidence? Oh I don’t think so. Something like this is too considered, too laden with import for something accidental to bubble to the surface. That’s definitely no accident.
That’s an agenda.
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79