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These 2 Global Brand Logos are *NOT* Perfect

posted on February 2, 2018

These 2 Global Brand Logos are *NOT* Perfect

 

Did they really mess up in their latest redesign? Starbucks and Google taught us some valuable lessons about imperfection.

Logo design is a long process that involves several steps, from brainstorming all the way to application. So a lot of effort is put into the process in order to achieve the best result. The ultimate goal is, obviously, perfection… right?

We all know that symmetry and geometry are often associated with perfection, but the following cases shows that two of world’s most recognizable brands might have had intentionally gone against perfect symmetry and perfect geometry. Keep reading to find out why.


The Starbucks Siren

Adapted from an Italian mythological creature, the Siren has been present in Starbucks' logo since their very first shop in 1971 and remained throughout several redesigns within the past 5 decades. 

Image: courtesy Starbucks

The most significant change made in the last redesign is the removal of “the donut” that had been around since the beginning, leaving the two-tailed mermaid in a green circle as the main symbol.

But that was not the whole story.

Back in 2011, a redrawn version of the Siren was hanging on an office wall. Everything about her looked perfect, but there was something off about her that everyone in the Lippincott’s global branding team couldn't put their fingers on.

Although her face was perfect, she came across as creepy and NOT beautiful. Despite having a perfect symmetry as the well-studied definition of human beauty, something about her face did not feel right.

As recalled by global creative director Connie Birdsall, the team eventually came to a conclusion, “Oh, we need to step back and put some of that humanity back in. The imperfection was important to making her really successful as a mark.” 

Now take a closer look at several versions of the Siren’s face, sorted chronologically. Notice that her face went from asymmetrical to symmetrical, to having friendly eyes, until the designers changed it back to a more mysterious, asymmetrical design.
Photo: courtesy Lippincott

Design partner Bogdan Geana added, “In the end, just for the face part of the drawing, there’s a slight asymmetry to it. It has a bit more shadow on the right side of the face… It felt a bit more human, and felt less like a perfectly cut mask.”

If you ask us, we agree that the final version is the best out of all four for having the least amount of creep and just enough charm.


The Google logotype and Google G

Now, what about Google? Marking massive transformations in their vision, mission, product range and also the era, their 2015 redesign was the first major change that their logo had undergone in 15 years. The previous two mainly involved subtle removals of shadows and gradients.

Image: courtesy iluvgoogle.org
Video: courtesy Google
Accompanying the wordmark, Google G was introduced as a compact version of the logo that was meant to work in small sizes.
Image: courtesy Google

Just seconds after the revelation, netizens (design geeks, mostly) were quick to point out the flaws in the Google G and suggesting ways to ‘fix’ it.

But does it really need any fixing?


As reported by Adweek, a reddit user named maxtor posted this image to show that the Google G is not a perfect circle, implying that Google had messed up by not being geometrically correct.

Other comments included those about how the Google G was not the same as the capital G in the wordmark and how the color proportions were not balanced nor symmetrical.

Now let’s take the black circle out of the picture and compare the Google G with how it would have looked like if it had been based on a perfect circle.

 

The Google G (at left) is not a perfect circle. If it were (at right), it would look like it had an overbite. So, is it safe to assume that the geometrical imperfection is actually intentional on Google’s part?

Google themselves explained:

The Google G is directly derived from the logotype “G,” but uses increased visual weight to stand up at small sizes and contexts where it needs to share space with other elements.

Designed on the same grid as our product iconography, the circular shape was optically refined to prevent a visual “overbite” at the point where the circular form meets the crossbar.

The color proportions convey the full spectrum of the logotype and are sequenced to aid eye movement around the letterform.

Now everything about it makes perfect sense.


Conclusion

Looking into the logo designs and the creation process of 2 of the world’s most recognizable brands, we dare to say otherwise. Perfection is not the ultimate goal. After all, design is not perfect science.

Although a logo is measurable in hours of labor and millions of rupiah spent in the development, it eventually comes down to charm over calculation and how it pleases the eyes, not the mind.

And sometimes it means throwing perfection out of the equation.


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