Episode #85
Subverting expectations

What makes a good logo, and what makes a great one?

Music from this episode

  1. Introspección by Downbeat
  2. мастэрпис by Kosta T
  3. Elements (Psychadelik Pedestrian chillout edit) by Marc Burt
  4. Super String Theory (ID 474) by Lobo Loco

Line-by-line notes

  2. I was having a walk with a good friend yesterday
  3. And an idle topic of conversation sprung up
  4. We were both knackered
  5. We’d walked 8 miles at this point
  6. He asked me
  7. Have you seen any good logos lately?
  8. And I didn’t know how to respond
  9. I had seen lots of good logos lately
  10. Some excellent
  11. (Being a designer, a read a lot about this kind of thing)
  12. But right there, I couldn’t remember a single one
  13. Not one
  14. I knew I’d seen good ones, but if I couldn’t remember them, what does that make them?
  15. Is a logo, a design, or a piece of art really made of any substance if you can’t remember it?
  16. This is Ask a Designer Anything, and I’m Craig Burgess
  18. I like reading books
  19. I read all sorts of books
  20. Books about prisons, pro wrestlers, jack reacher novels,
  21. psychology books, books about body language
  22. business books, self help books
  23. Anything really
  24. The one I’m reading at the moment is by Stewart Lee, called How I Escaped My Certain Fate
  25. If you’re not familiar with Stewart Lee
  26. He’s a proper stand up comedian
  27. He’s been around for over 20 years
  28. And often called “the comedian’s comedian”
  29. He’s an absolute nerd for stand up comedy
  30. And knows and understands his craft better than nearly everybody else
  31. Beyond just the idea that it’s a person standing up on a stage telling jokes
  32. He made a really interesting point about stand up in his book
  33. He talks about how average stand up comedy
  34. And by extension, average, mainstream art
  35. He explains it just repeats back to people what their life is like
  36. Observational comedians like peter kay just echo your own life back at you
  37. And mainstream art does the same
  38. But the best kind of art, and the best kind of comedy
  39. Provides you with something unexpected
  41. It subverts your expectations, and from that
  42. The consumer of that art or comedy gets a much more powerful experience
  43. It doesn’t spoon feed you its intention
  44. And makes you work to understand what it means
  45. When you have to work to understand what something means across art or design
  46. You appreciate the solution, and the craft of it much more
  47. If we just take logos, the best ones I can remember
  48. Subvert what I expected to see
  49. And make me work to understand what it means
  50. The best kind of logos do this
  51. Although it’s a cliched example, the Fed Ex logo is a great example
  52. With the hidden arrow inside the logo
  53. Whenever you point this out to somebody who’ve never experienced this before
  54. I love the reaction
  55. They smile, and usually say “ahhh”
  56. That’s clever
  57. A proper logo, a real piece of design does that to you
  58. It makes you smile
  59. A smile in the mind
  60. As Beryl McAlhone and David Stuart say in their excellent book
  61. The new old Kodak logo that’s just recently been revitalised is a great example too
  62. They’re both examples of playing with a viewer’s expectations
  63. And subverting what you’d expect
  64. No matter what creative medium we’re talking about
  65. Spoon feeding people the solution never has the same impact
  66. Making somebody work to understand what you mean
  67. Yes, less people will understand
  68. Less people will get your intention
  69. But when they work it out
  70. When they understand it properly
  71. Because they’ve worked it out for themselves, the response is 10 times more powerful
  72. They’ll smile outwardly, and smile in their minds too
  74. This was Ask a Designer Anything. I’m Craig Burgess.
  75. Music featured in this episode was Introspección by Downbeat, a track by Kosta T, Elements (Psychadelik Pedestrian chillout edit) by Marc Burt, and this track playing right now, Super String Theory (ID 474) by Lobo Loco
  76. For a line-by-line run down of this episode, go to askadesigneranything.com/ep85
  77. I’m back tomorrow for another episode of Ask a Designer Anything

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