October 17, 2007

Logo Design = Bullet Magnet

Having just stumbled, sleepy & scruffy*, out of an NYC taxi, I’m amused (and more than a bit sympathetic) to see the drubbing being doled out to the city’s new taxi logo.  Having absorbed, oh, ~850 flame-throwing drive-bys about the Photoshop family logo and the CS3 icons, I can empathize with the poor suckas who created this taxi thing, or who just had the, ahem, pleasure of playing the messenger.  Sam Potts points out the typically blistering comments visited on the work (and on his & other designers’ takes on it):

Why not open it up to ACTUAL high schoolers? Seeing the work they do, I’m betting they can come up with a much more clever solution than these half-brained doozies some wanna-be designer came up with on his bathroom break.
— Posted by Real Designer

Yeesh.  I’m reminded of a joke James Darnell passed along in conjunction with the Photoshop logo flare-up: "How many graphic designers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Any number really: one will do the work and the rest will stand around saying I could’ve done a better job."  God help anyone with the guts to put their work up on LogoPond & the like.  

I do get a kick out of Sam’s bullet-riddled taxi design.  Travis Bickle would feel right at home. [Via Sam]

* Red-eye flights seem to be the universe’s way of punishing my chronic failure to learn that, boy oh boy, it sucks to spend one’s night wedged between ripe, sullen strangers.  You’d think I’d get the hint by now.

Posted by John Nack at 6:09 AM on October 17, 2007

Comments

  • A. Dias — 10:58 AM on October 17, 2007

    Hmm… not really! The NYC Taxi logo is not as bad as the Photoshop family logo. :)

  • Brian — 11:59 AM on October 17, 2007

    Most of the reviews on LogoPond are usually pretty positive, though, and that’s because those are mostly nice logos. I find that work that is totally ridiculed into the ground is the work that deserves it. Designers *generally* know design.

  • tim — 1:40 PM on October 17, 2007

    That reminds me of a little debacle we’ve had over here in the UK where the design for the London 2012 olympics logo was completely panned.
    Check it here:
    http://www.london2012.com/
    Now commonly known as: “The Lisa Simpson BJ”

  • BJ Nicholls — 2:15 PM on October 17, 2007

    Design is a brutal business. The taxi logo indeed suxx badly. It’s several levels of hell below Adobe’s logo efforts at their nadir.
    It’s better to take a critical assualt to your ego early – before you loose an excreble design into public use. Knowing designers are a tough audience also means that when you get praised it *means something*.

  • Robert Wood — 4:15 PM on October 17, 2007

    From 1998 to 2003 I was on the road full time ~ 320 days a year. I know this pain.
    “* Red-eye flights seem to be the universe’s way of punishing my chronic failure to learn that, boy oh boy, it sucks to spend one’s night wedged between ripe, sullen strangers. You’d think I’d get the hint by now. ”

  • Mark Thomas — 4:44 PM on October 17, 2007

    How many graphic designers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Any number really: one will do the work and the rest will stand around saying I could’ve done a better job.
    Of course, that’s not really what happened. Hardly anyone said they could do better even though they almost certainly could have. They were just expressing their gut reaction. If the logo had been good — really good — their gut reaction would have been “wow.”
    [I just thought it was a funny remark. –J.]
    That’s how good the Adobe logos and icons need to be. They need to make designers impressed, not embarrassed.
    [Agreed. –J.]

  • Phil Brown — 11:49 PM on October 17, 2007

    I sympathise with you, John. I just spent a week in Vegas, which is a long way from Sydney and not really enough time to fully switch timezones.
    Seems to have been a rash of some…interesting logos of late. Are designers being too clever for their own (and their product’s) good? Perhaps it’s a little like the movie critics who pan a movie that does extremely well at the box office. People just want to be entertained and rarely care if the 17th century costume is not the right shade of puce because at that time it was made from widgets and not widgettes.
    “Pop” may be sneered at by the Culturati but isn’t popular a good thing when one is attempting to stamp a brand?

  • Scott Valentine — 7:08 AM on October 18, 2007

    I like Potts’ #1 TAXI! look. That is impressive by its simplicity.
    But going for the bullet design, one might as well have the other icon of NYC:
    http://shades-of-moonlight.com/birdflip/whiteroom-nathan.jpg
    (That’s Nathan Fillion of Firefly/Serenity fame addressing a costar)

  • jeff — 8:19 AM on October 18, 2007

    For god’s sake, both of these things, the PS icons and the taxi logo, do their job well.
    I’d like to see the work of some of these people criticizing them. Likely you’d find some significant crap.

  • James Darknell — 4:07 PM on October 18, 2007

    Wow, I’m a long time reader and have only posted a couple comments, but was quite surprised to see my name mentioned. Thanks John. One small detail though, my last name has a ‘k’ in it. :-D

  • thorsten wulff — 1:09 AM on October 19, 2007

    This Is New York City™
    The Taxilogo is just part of a new campaign by Bartle Bogle Hegarty:
    http://www.nycvisit.com/content/index.cfm?pagePkey=2019

  • Scott Valentine — 11:42 AM on October 19, 2007

    For god’s sake, both of these things, the PS icons and the taxi logo, do their job well.
    That argument goes only so far… The dead rat Quizno’s ads were vile, imho, but they did a good job of sticking in people’s memory. I stopped eating there for almost a year, just because of the ads.
    Being memorable is only part of the equation – the designer needs to be aware of the communication; the two parts – what is sent, what is received – are not always the same. In the case of the taxi logo, the message many of us receive is unbalanced, unprofessional, disjointed, and difficult to read.
    Will you recognize it in the future? Sure, and it tells you what you need to know. That doesn’t make it good design.
    Please don’t be so quick to assume that people who offer criticism are not themselves capable of doing better. Some can, some can’t, but all are entitled to (politely offered) opinions.

  • Kyle — 3:42 PM on October 21, 2007

    John, there’s a copy of Photoshop 0.63 circulating on the internet. Can we go back to that icon? It was actually a shop!
    [Ah yes, I remember that thing, though my history with PS goes back “only” to 2.5. You can see the icon here. –J.]

  • isaacw — 3:42 PM on October 23, 2007

    Thanks for the link. I like “TAXI!” because that’s the exact verbal franticness I think of when I see one.
    BTW – I’m glad to see that you’re still alive after the Photoshop-Family-Logo-BBQ reaction from the design community. I can’t imagine what the past month has been like for you. While I too have my reservations regarding the new logo, as well as the general Adobe branding direction, I’m also human and realize that having to front all the criticism is really tough. Hang in there, stay humble, and try to learn as much as you can from the feedback – it’s stuff like this that makes us mature and that imparts wisdom (an underrated, priceless, far-too-scarce of a commodity).
    Take care,
    -isaacw
    (Sorry if this got posted twice)

  • Design manager — 4:49 AM on November 09, 2007

    I think that I’m lucky. Our company has a good crew of designers, so you can always expect someone’s help and no one will say that he can do it better.

  • Patrick — 10:59 AM on November 16, 2007

    Good news: the new AIR logo is really cool! btw- the 850:0 ratio of reviling the ps family logo speaks more to a mistake in need of fixing than the quirks of the creative professional imho. -pk

  • imajes — 5:58 PM on November 16, 2007

    It wasn’t exactly 850 to 0 against the new logos, a quite a lot of people liked the new logos. But as when you change anything iconic, you will get a lot of stick, even if it’s better.
    Personally, I really like the new logos as now I can actually tell what programme they stand for. The previous ones were so fussy, similar and disconected from the programmes I could never remember which one was for what programme. Plus I always loved the periodic table design which they resemble.

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