Logos by the Numbers

Designers of logos and trademarks have long been wary of attempts to subject their work to quantitative analysis, maintaining that such empirical scrutiny stifles and devalues their creativity. Raymond Loewy boasted about how he had departed Chicago on a train bound for New York, and had sketched the new International Harvester logo on a dining-car menu before reaching Fort Wayne. "The spur-of-the-moment creation of this trademark and its subsequent longevity," he wrote, "contradict the notion of other designers that designing new marks always demands thorough, lengthy, expensive research and a great many interviews, tests, and polls." Similarly, Paul Rand asserted, "in the area of corporate identity" the need for research, other than to satisfy one's curiosity, is questionable. How can one research subjects as arguable as novelty, originality, or uniqueness?" Despite this understandable prejudice, I hope to show that research on trademark and logos, when performed well, can help to illuminate the trends and patterns that underlie their design.

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