Monday, April 20, 2009

Design Discourse Two

Seventy-Nine Short Essays on Design
Michael Bierut
#20 "Better Nation-Building through Design"

  • New logo is often a CEO's first change to a company to show a "regime change."
  • Iraqi flag changed in similar manner once Saddam was gotten rid of.
  • Flag and Logos mean nothing on their own, people project their hopes and fears onto them
  • Swastika was a beautiful symbol from a purely formal viewpoint, forever tainted by Nazis
  • Designers of the Iraqi flag mistook easy symbolism for difficult substance.
  • Symbolism meaningful as long as its clear what it means to symbolize
  • Corporate Identity needs consistency and commitment to be successful

The present day Iraqi flag was changed a few years ago to promote "change" after the American invasion; to give Iraqi's a sense of hope. Unfortunately it was wrought with trouble as the public was given no choice in the Flag's design, the colors were the same as Israel's and not Arabic's trademark white red green and black as was the old Iraq flag, as well as the deletion of the phrase "God is Great." Meaning is important in symbols, especially when it comes to flags, the lack of concern for the general populace's opinion over their own country's flag, especially in a country that is trying to be changed into a free land is puzzling.

The new logo for Pepsi is a source of confusion for many people. The redesign was not drastic but by no means subtle either. It is lazy and conveys nothing to Americans. Michael is right when he talks about clearly anchoring a sign to what it is supposed to mean. A corporate identity needs consistency, otherwise it stands no chance of success. Where there is a lack of coordination, there will be perpetual confusion in the minds of the audience. The design change and the amount of money spent on it, which will go into the hundreds of millions when taking into account all the vehicles and bottles and vending machines that must be changed, seems very pointless if a mere 5 months was spent on the design, especially in an economic state that America is festering in as of now. As an Iraqi council member said; "I think there are issues more important to concentrate on than the changing of the flag."

Johnson & Johnson's logo is a clear example of what Michael Bierut  talks about as a good logo. It has maintained consistency since its inception, and has symbolized itself in probably the most simple way you can; its logo and name are one in the same. It is clear, the name synonymous with confidence, medical technological revolutions and baby products. It is there, never hiding its face, letting people assign whatever conceptions they wish to make about the company, much like a flag. It lets them project their "hopes dreams and nightmares." It is meaningful as a symbol because it reminds one of all the deeds they have done, much like calling out a name like Bill Clinton or Mohammed Gandi. It symbolizes itself and nothing more.

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