The history of the logo
by André-Yves Coenderaet
What is a logo?
First of all, it is good to recall the fundamentals of the logo function.
Logo or Logotype n.m. graphic representation of a trademark, the acronym of an organization.
Acronym n.m. bottom lat. acronym abbreviation group of initial letters constituting the abbreviation of frequently used words (e.g. HLM)
Acronym n.m. Acronym pronounced as an ordinary word (e.g. UFO, AIDS, samu)
Emblem n.m. (of the lat. emblema, overadded ornament) 1. Being or object intended to symbolize an abstract notion or to represent a community, a profession, a person, etc.: The dove is the emblem of peace. 2. Herald. Symbolic figure usually accompanied by a motto.
In fact, whatever the graphic representation (logo, acronym, emblem...), it is a signal that will allow the viewer to quickly identify the source of the message he receives. Ultimately, it becomes the standard symbolizing all the values of the brand, of the company: we see the visual object (the signifier) and we immediately have in mind all the values of the company... (the signified).
We see an apple, we think of fruit, childhood, pie, juice... we see the "apple" (Apple) and appear in mind, the elements of Apple's world... not those of another brand... we almost forget the Beatles' musical label.
Expectations of a logo: we tend to ask too much of the logo, many imagine that the logo must tell a complex story when it is not. A logo is not a rebus. It is not up to the logo to tell the story, it will be told over time by the graphic identity and by the coherence and repetition of the discourse held by the driving forces of the company or product.
Rules and syntax: as with verbal communication, there are rules, syntax and grammar in visual communication, even if these are not strict, they must be taken into account for the objective to be achieved:
unequivocal recognition of the visual object and its induced values.
Codes: In the design of a brand image, codes are the commonly accepted elements and therefore used to express in an underlying way the world in which we are located. The images associated with a research on the term "innovation" are very often gears, bulbs (which is paradoxical because it is very old) silent phylacteries, graphics... this series of artifacts is served in all sauces...
Using these codes is wanted for ease... surprisingly, these codes are very uninnovative... Would innovation rhyme with a bright idea? Anyway, using such icons in a logo is not necessarily a good idea.
Another choice could be to break the codes, a radical option, and therefore to create another world or even ignore them... It also implies that we bring something that does not exist and that will seduce because we will work on the uniqueness of the product/service. It is different from what is on the market. Oscar Wilde wrote somewhere: "Be yourself the others are already taken"... This aphorism is right here. This is a rule that also applies in the designer's work.
The design process
The integral of iA's roots and wings. This could not be ignored in the creative process.
In general, the designer's mission is to integrate all the company's values so that he can nourish his creativity... and to synthesize them graphically so that, in the end, the logo transmits this set. We are here, very far from a drawing bought $15 on the internet "because it's pretty and we like it"...
The "wave" and the surfer. The entrance image of the website. Why this image?
The practice of surfing is similar to the needs to continuously adapt to external conditions (the height and kinetics of the wave, wind, current...) and the state of mind to dare to undertake. Each wave is a new company to create: innovation attitude.
After discussing the feasibility and need for a logo, JR showed me what he and Samuël Gielsdorf, business expert in the context of Attitude innovation, had in mind for the logo: the "i" formed by the sail of a kite-surf and the "A" connected to the "i" by the "lines".
The ideas were beautiful but...several objective elements would fight these beautiful images and therefore, were not going to be suitable for creating a logo.
For the idea of the wave and the surfer, the proportion between the wave and the surfer made it almost non-existent, increasing the size of the surfer compared to the wave, could have worked graphically but not conceptually because we would have found ourselves in the iconography of a surf club or a board brand.
The other idea: The sail of the kite surfing forming the "i" attached to the "A" by the "lines" (here, it is essential to remember that JR since the beginning of the project has written a tiny "i" and a capital "A") in Latin writing, (the one we use every day...) logic is that the "CAPITALS" are larger than the "lowercase", there, already we were faced with a little problem. on the other hand, given the form applied to both the "i" and "A" gave the impression that the meaning went from right to left or in Western civilization, we read from left to left to right and from top to bottom... from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge... Therefore, unconsciously, it gives an underlying negative impression... for having tested it, reversing the meaning would have helped nothing...
We had to open another creative path: the wave remained an interesting concept, the images of surfers in a "tube" of water are always very spectacular... it could give a beautiful creative basis and as a result, the logo would take on a rounded shape (this is always easier to manage graphically than a "rectangle") and to keep the side enveloping. In discussing with JR, we came to the conclusion that the notion of "human touch" should be integrated into it... iA is not a machine. By applying a graphic treatment to the wave and drawing the "i" by hand, I obtained something quite interesting in terms of materials and renderings.
All that remained was to test; only to see how this graphic object worked with all the images used by JR in the iA site. The logo had to be able to coexist with all these elements.
The result was very disappointing... it didn't work. The graphic universes were too far from each other.
We had to open another path...
But for me, designer, what is iA? humans who observe, analyze, reflect, create,... it is above all a concept!
We build elements... By reflecting like this, things are structured, graphic elements install themselves. The "A" first because it is the "CAPITAL" element.
Then the "i"... A few sketches to refine the concept; look for the typo that might be suitable...
No, existing typos do not work in this case. So I went through the "drawing of the two letters" box. And in drawing them, I told myself that the construction lines brought something because they accentuated in the logo, the notion of "structuring" in the iA approach.
But why did you put the "A" upside down? To paraphrase Raymond Loewy, I could say: So that you may ask me!
More seriously, if I returned the "A" it was because iA has a different approach.
It now remains to build elements of visual identity as and when needed. We already have the watermark, and the letterhead...
I could just as well develop a complete guide line, that's usually what we do. But often we find ourselves confronted with things that were not provided for in the guide. So in the case of iA, this approach is more pragmatic.