Art + Design

From the Design Desk: Logomania


A good logo is hard to forget. And in some cases the opposite is true, when questionable or bad logos can cause quite a stir, as evidenced by past internet phenomena like, or the infamous London 2012 Olympics logo controversy. Either way, the logo is a lasting communication tool that pares information about an organization or idea to its bare essentials that can be remembered for years, or seconds, and can tell a lot about a generation’s unique vernacular.

Our recently published book American Trademarks: A Compendium by designers Eric Baker and Tyler Blik is a definitive collection of logos from the 1920s onward. As a designer, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the many logo books that seek to showcase and inspire, but there are few that cover the breadth of logos across time, and really bring light to the aesthetic qualities particular to different generations and topics. I found this book’s take on the logo to be refreshing even though it was more about the past than the present; the thrill was similar to looking through an old family album, with scattered and surprising recognitions that recover interest and appreciation for those times, even if you may not have been there in person.

The marks are uniquely organized by subjects like “Faces and Figures” or “Science and Industry” to see the stylistic development of related organizations across decades. You really start to appreciate the care and manual craft put into marks of bygone eras, or the savvy simplicity of more recent decades. I was surprised by some of the unexpected connections or disconnections between a mark and its year or affiliated organization. Here are a few examples of beautifully executed and elegant marks that caught my eye:

Graphically intriguing:

Quirky and humorous in retrospect:

Or just plain strange!

This book is an indispensable resource preserving in print these fascinating marks that might otherwise be lost or forgotten, with commentary by prominent identity designers today. It reminds us of the impact a strong identity can still leave us with years later, as much as it inspires creatives with the past to make their mark in the present.

Eloise Leigh


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