The New Facebook Places Logo? None Too Subtle

Who doesn’t love a well-designed logo?  Really, when done well, logos are a wonderful exercise of concise creativity, of suggestion and clarity.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingA 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.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingFor 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.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago Advertising

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


2 thoughts on “The New Facebook Places Logo? None Too Subtle

  1. Neilan Tyree says:

    What’s a Big Ten?

    Roll Tide.

    But first up, that awesome FedEx logo. But (and I hate to correct one of my favorite fearless leaders…) it ain’t BBDO that you should be heaping the praise on. Not by a long shot. The DESIGNER was from LANDOR. May I present (drum roll, please):

    Lindon Leader, now of Leader Creative. As noted, he did this in 1994 at the San Francisco office of Landor, which I don’t need to tell YOU is a WPP company which means that it’s not even a sister agency to that esteemed agency who’s been FedEx’s AOR agency for so long…

    Saw a documentary once that featured Leader (one of those cool things that occasionally pops up on Sunday afternoons when some game or such is messing with the national TV schedule) which is when I learned about the arrow. And flipped! Even used it last WEEK while cajoling a designer into deeper work for the Brand Neilan effort that poor soul is underrtaking.

    But back to Mr. Leader — you can read an amusing interview with him here:

    Or you cam check out his own website at:

    But wait… What was I talking about? Oh yeah… ROLL TIDE, ROLL!

    Heh heh heh… Friends thought I was “a bit much” LAST season. What with Bama AND The Saints both winning their championships? MIGHT have to limit my viewing parties this year to fellow team enthusiasts.

    LAST year I had all kinds of folks every weekend ’cause I think they liked my “little engine that could” enthusiasm. Not sure they’ll be as wild about my “To the Victor Goes the Spoils” approach to 2010/2011!

    Not jinxing either team by getting cocky mind you, but if you don’t get to enjoy that rare stature a BIT, then what’s the point, eh?

    By the way, LOVED your pointing out that 11 in the Big Ten. That’s wild!
    I had not, in fact, noticed it. Maybe because I’m busy gazing at OUR conference logo…. On all the gear I dragged home from the good ol’ Rose Bowl on Jan 7.

    Love your blog, m’lord!


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