This isn’t your typical “best logo design ever” Hall of Fame. Far from it. These logos haven’t been selected because they’re they’re the best, or even because they’re any good. Nope. These graphic elements and logos were hand-picked as being the most popular of all time. Not popular as in “I like that“. Popular as in “let’s use this“. Which when you get down to it, isn’t exactly a good thing, especially if we’re looking for an original logo. supposedly the point of the exercise itself. Accordingly, our version of a Hall of Fame features the most overused logos and graphic elements of all time. Designs that have been done to death, the most copied, knocked-off, reverse-engineered and generally abused so-called concepts in the history of ever. Without further ado, here’s the inductees:
Gold Ribbon: The Ubiquitous Swoosh
Granted, the Ubiquitous Swoosh logo has died down a little bit since they were outlawed just shortly after the dot com crash (bit of a “lemming thing“), but there’s still an occasional breakout here and there. Swooshes are a perennial fave because they’re all hi-techy and stuff. Designing swooshes is hard and take a whopping 1.5 seconds to create. Drop a circle, copy and drag, extrude. For its service to deadline crunched and concept-addled graphic designers the world over, we hoist a glass to the celebrate this life-saving graphic element. By the way, Saturn called. It wants its ring back.
Honorable mention: The Multiple Swoosh Extravaganza
Oscar Wilde once said “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” Accordingly, if one Swoosh will do ya, a whole bunch of Swooshes will do one, or several, better. Like its solo counterpart, the Multi-Swoosh extravaganza takes about 2.5 seconds of extremely taxing graphic design brilliance to create. Once we’ve created one Swoosh, it comes down to the incredibly complex art of Control-C copy. Then Control-V paste, paste, paste. Bonus points for anyone that manages to wrap a couple of Swooshes around the first letter of a company name. It’s not every day you see that kind of skill. Well, actually, it is. Every bloody day.
Overcoming Adversity: One-legged Pointy Man
Don’t know how this poor guy lost a leg, but lose a leg he did. Replaced with jabby shish kabob skewers, looks like he lost his hands too. Pointy gets the Hall of Fame nod for being adaptable to almost every design theme that requires a human figure, particularly in the sports categories. We can bend him, twist him and skew him (for motion doncha know) in soccer, hockey and football logos. Try to keep inflatable balls away from the pointy arms though. Lest we think that Pointy is but a mindless jock restricted to athletics, keep this in mind – he can dress himself in a Swoosh for more hi-tech and brainy themed logos. Can’t be easy either – hopping from logo to logo – and despite his decidedly non-bipedal nature, Pointy Man is a case study in true adaptability.
Team Spirt Award: Synchronized One-legged Pointy Men
It might have been a lonely existence for Pointy if it weren’t for other little one-legged guys who meet regularly for synchronized design events. Probably pretty carefully though, with all those jabby little arms. To showcase a community vibe, Pointy and his friends can be found in all sorts of configurations but they’re especially fond of half-circular and circular formations. These look really nice sitting on top of centered typography. Honorable mention too for the diverse nature of their group, which boasts Pointy Men of every color imaginable. Yeah, we went there.
Honorable mention: Swish Man
Despite having all his limbs, Swish Man is slightly less adaptable than Pointy, and is usually benched until a logo calls for some sort of human movement. Running, walking, even riding a bike, it’s all good. Swish doesn’t have any hands, or feet for that matter, but his arms and legs can be rotated into a large variety of positions for the appearance of more, or less, speediness. Alas, Swish Man is a solo player, as the introduction of others will leave any logo looking like a jumble of broken Saturn Rings. Which when you get right down to it, is exactly what he’s made from.
Best In Class: The Ubuntu Widget
If we could only pick one logo for induction into the Hall of Fame, the wonderful little Ubuntu logo would be it. Or rather, one of the three widgets that makes up the Ubuntu logo, originally developed for the open source operating system of the same name. Supposed to represent a birds-eye view of a little dude, complete with round head and out-stretched arms, the Ubuntu Widget presents a cornucopia of graphic possibilities. Community logo? Check. Communication logo? Check. Sports logo? Bit of a stretch, but okay, check that one off too. The Ubuntu Widget tends to travel in packs of three, but flocks of four (right) and even five have been spotted. The outstretched arms can be joined to indicate all sorts of community and network symbolism, the size of your community or network only restricted by number of widgets you can squeeze into a circle. The Ubuntu widget is probably one of the most cribbed, copied and bootlegged logos of all time, and wins our Best of Class hands down. It’s also the hardest working logo in our Hall of Fame and we’ve had to develop several new Ubuntu categories to celebrate how influential this little guy has become. To whit:
Kumbia Huggy Ubuntus
What says “kumbia” more than a bunch of Unbutu Widgets? How about a whole bunch of Ubuntu widgets hugging themselves rotten. This huggy version of the standard Ubuntu can usually be found in church, day-care center and support group logos throughout the known Universe (probably a few in the not-so-known Universe as well). Group hugs are favored but one-on-one variants can be found in their natural habitat, the community-care business card. While not technically Ubuntus, we’ve had to widen this category to include some pointy-handed hybrids as a runner-up. That’s okay, because nothing says “we care” more than a Huggy Ubuntu, pointy-handed or not.
Esther Williams Swimming Ubuntus
Some of you won’t know who Esther Williams is. This link will tell you, and you’ll quickly understand why we named this category after her. Think synchronized swimming. Birds eye view. You can almost hear the water splashing. Very similar to the Huggy, this logo can often been seen at gigs for day care, school and other community based groups. Lot of internet companies too. For additional ‘swirly’ goodness, the Swimming Ubuntus are often featured with alternating colors.
Fred Astaire Dancing Ubuntus
Even remembers Fred, right? Kay, then you’ll understand the reference. Nothing sez “fun, fun, fun” like a chorus of twinkle-toed Ubuntus tripping the light fantastic. Might be to that infernal “birdy dance” though. You know, that stupid tune that your Grandma insists you dance with her to, usually at your cousin’s wedding. Suffering from an “Achy Breaky Heart”? No problem. The Dancing Ubuntus have you covered. There are several versions of this approach in circulation, but most are a variation on three or four dancing partners, doing the “doh-see-doh”, as seen from above.
Joe Namath Late Quarter Huddle Ubuntus
If your logo is a brain trust kinda outfit. there ain’t anything that illustrates putting heads together more than the Late Quarter Huddle Ubuntu. Sort of a backwards version of the logo proper, these treatments combine the community theme of the original, with an added dose of “ain’t we smart” symbolism. Can be found in either solid or mixed colors. You know, that “diversity” thing. There’s been a recent outbreak of Quaterback Ubuntus featuring Joomla colors cause nothing speaks of interactivity more than red, green, orange and blue. Speaking about Joomla, that design gets a class all its own.
Best of Show: The Overlapping, Intlerlinking, Joomla Rings
With all of its intertlinked goodness, the Joomla logo symbolizes the open-source content management system (CMS) of the same name. The Joomla represents all sorts of wonderful connectivity, and its little intertwined people have been a source of inspiration for many would-be designers the world over. Let’s face it. The original rocks (right). But who needs original when we can crib the concept, tweak it to fit our needs, stopping only to figure out what artwork layer goes under, and what layer goes over. The Overlapping Joomla comes in all sorts of configurations. from circles, to elipses and Quasi-Ubuntus and has been spotted in threesomes, foursomes and moresomes. Many Joomlas still feature their native colors because as we’ve mentioned, nothing speaks of interactivity more than red, green, orange and blue. How much as the Joomla logo been ripped on, cribbed and bootlegged? Dunno, but it’s a lot. Cause a lot of companies need logos that scream co-operation and connectivity, and nothing screams that like this little puppy.
And there you have it. This year’s inductions into our weird little Hall of Fame. And like most Hall of Fames, (think hockey, basketball and football sweaters) once something’s been included, the bloody thing should be retired. As all of these logo concepts, save the originals, should be too.
All of the artwork and graphic elements above are made up (except the Ubuntu and Joomla logos – they’re real), thrown together to illustrate this post or sadly, taken from our Morgue Files. Any similarity to actual logos, living or dead, is purely coincidental. But if any look like yours, you have our apologies. And our sympathies.
This post was live for about three minutes when someone pointed me in the direction of this web page. Illustrates the point about the Ubuntu logo nicely methinks.
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