I apologize to any upon the toes of whom I am about to step. Were I still writing as a High WASP I’d assume tones of disapproving authority. But let’s talk like regular people.
OK. I just hate Michael Kors’s logos.
A little deconstruction. I think logos need a broad conceptual category to clear up why one might like some and hate others. How about “Brand Recognition Devices and Details?” So catchy. But in that framework we realize we need to consider subtle design elements that come to identify or augment a brand over time, logos which have their own design life, and straightforward logos, which can be beautiful – or not.
Perennial Signature Design Elements
Think Bottega Veneta’s intrecciato, Chanel’s quilting, Gucci’s red and green stripe. All are instantly recognizable to anyone who knows fashion, none are logos, all have survived for decades. By the way, whoever is doing Gucci’s accessories right now is to be commended.
I’m a fan of long-lived signature elements, in talented hands they work like structural constraints on a sonnet. Aesthetics do well under tough love.
Trendy Signature Design Elements
We also see trendy signature design elements that proliferate like Cokes, AKA Cherry, Diet, New. Think Alexander Wang’s cylindrical studs on a Rocco bag, Valentino Rockstuds on, well, just about everything. Those first Rockstuds were a brilliant shoe design. The umpteenth, well, let’s say say the company made a nice return on small metal pyramids.
Logos Which Have Become Signature Design Elements Over Time
Creative, Dynamic, Collaborative Even
Now consider actual logos. Logo, of course, comes indirectly from “logos,” meaning “word” in Greek. Some lead an artistic life, like Louis Vuitton’s infamous LVs, Chanel’s double Cs, and even, back in the day, the Coach C-fests. All used at one time or another, for better or worse, as part of the accessory design itself. Coach of course “C”onsumed itself on a pyre of consumer logo frenzy and although rumors of a rebirth circulate now and again I’m still waiting. But Louis Vuitton has created art with their logo-age, and Chanel gets close.
Recognizable but fluid, do these logos both achieve and transcend their original purpose?
On second thought, I’m guessing my appreciation for the white Cs here is as much the Chanel brand association as the design itself. Coco, Karl. Such a tricky balance, that, and one the luxury houses walk with care.