Overthought, Underbaked: The Controversial New DA Logo
So, in response to requests for my thoughts on the new DA logo — and being disinclined to type the same response repeatedly — I will lay out my impressions here.To paraphrase a certain swordsman: "You keep using that logo, but I do not think it conveys what you think it does."
The new logo is certainly clever
, and as a designer — setting aside any resemblance to the platzkart.ru logo, accidental or otherwise — one can easily imagine the careful thought that went into its concept and execution, but...
If there is one thing that I took from my schooling in graphic design, it was the importance of clarity: of meaning, of import, of impression. This was true for any work, its composition, it layout, its style — its effective visceral message. Logo design, above all, is governed by a need to accomplish these aspects functionally and minimally: a penultimate challenge. A logo design might exploit the "rule of cool", get away with being obtuse at a glance, or take other adroit liberties, but in the end, it must satisfy those necessities."What we have here, is a failure to communicate."
The very fact that people are asking "what does a 'Z' have to do with DeviantART?" should serve as something of an indicator.
As a rule, the most basic impressions a logo conveys should never be confusion nor conceptual dissonance. If people cannot "get it" quickly, or naturally associate it with what it is intended to represent, it has fundamentally failed as a logo.
There is apparently a video
to effectively explain the one above. I can think of no stronger proof of this fundamental failure than that.Despite intention, the new logo does not seem to suggest creative freedom, but rather institution constraint.
There is a great risk inherent to certain logo motifs, a consequence not so much of the design principles at work, but rather the precedence set by established association. On the one hand, this can be effectively used to convey deeper connotations, establish connection to any number of existing ideas, trends, history, cultures, et al. At its most basic, this factor has conditioned certain readings of form as meaningful.
This is why, after all, certain entities' logos have a tendency to follow established conventions beyond what may be in vogue at any given moment.
The use of stark, linear forms such as those in the new logo present certain subtle, but specific, connotations of rigid order and stability — why this style is not uncommonly seen in bank emblems for instance, or those of other stolidly uncompromising institutions. Furthermore, logos that seem built upon mathematic expressions, as this one may give the appearance of being (≠), tend to be interpreted as being calculated
, and thus a reinforcement of that statement of rigid order and execution: fundamentally the antithesis of artistic liberty. There may be something more subtly egregious at work: the use of that angular slash.
Ask at random a nigh any person who lives in one of the world's modern societies what a slash across an image (with or without a bounding circle or polygon) means, and they can tell you without thought or hesitation: negation. It has been deliberately made a universal convention, after all. Whether it is a prohibition against action, a declaration of opposition, or nothing more consequential than an exterminator's whimsical marketing hook (i.e. "Ghostbusters"), a diagonal slash declares "NO! Not this!".
Interpreted in this fashion, the new logo could be read as an meaning strong opposition to equality
— and bearing in mind that the "equal" mark is frequently used a bold emblem to promote egalitarian values, this is a very negative message at bit at odds with the DA philosophy.Kudos for the effort, but do try again.
I applaud DA's desire to be innovative, and see little value in being so attached to the "old" as to abhor change; but with the leap of faith that this entails come the risk of missing the mark and planting face firmly upon the pavement. The ground is pocked with craters and it seems another has been added to the collection.
My advice to DA? Spare a moment to pat off the dust, adjust one's beak square, and stretch the wings, then test the wind again, lessons learned.
I look forward to seeing you fly.