Welcome to a new series where we’ll aim to cover at least some of the most iconic logos that have ever been created.
There’s so much more to the creation of these icons, that burrow into both our conscious and subconscious, than you may expect. We’ll look at the history behind the logo, the commission, the designer and how it’s stood up over the passing of (often) decades.
What we’re not presenting here is a list of our personal favourite logos. This is more a summary of those that have become something more than just a mark on a page, a website, or a building; something that has truly penetrated our culture.
So what shall we start with? Something beautiful, and a logo who’s creation has been lost to time and conjecture. We give you, the Woolmark…
Inspired by a skein of wool, the logo we know as the Woolmark was the winner of a worldwide design competition launched by the International Wool Secretariat (now Australian Wool Innovation) in 1963. And that’s where the intrigue begins—who designed it?
For such a recognisable logo (one that was massive when I was growing up) the subject of it’s creator is truly bizarre.
The competition winner was announced as a Milanese designer, Francesco Saroglia. But apart from the Woolmark logo, there is no further information on the man; no mention in books, no exhibits, no previous work. This has led to the suggestion that another design entered the competition under a pseudonym.
Interestingly, a member of the judging panel for the competition has a rich body of work that stylistically matches the final logo closely. That designer’s name was Franco Grignani. But before you get the idea this was his idea, it turns out his work (earlier sketches prior to his invitation to join the judging panel) may have, in fact, been submitted for him by another party under the pseudonym of Francesco.
It’s a great story and one you can find out more about in Ben Bos’s book AGI: Graphic Design since 1950. You can also see some of Grignani’s work here and make your own mind up.
So why is this logo so special?
First off, this logo was not a high-street brand in the proper sense, rather the mark of a trade organisation. How many trade organisation’s logos can you bring to mind right now?
So this beautiful mark had to convey trust in the product it was attached to, and through consistent use it became intrinsically linked with quality.
It’s simplicity belies it’s complexity of shape (a striped, looping ribbon), and the logo works beautifully when reproduced large or small (there is a picture of it used huge and illuminated in Piccadilly Circus where is looks stunningly effective).
Being a flat-style graphic without any graduations, the logo is uncluttered. This also means it can be used in every situation required without resorting to different forms of the same logo. Neither does it need to rely on colour for impact (any great logo should look great in black & white).
It’s also not a logo that only “designers” get. It became part of a shopping-generation’s consciousness, and for that it deserves the accolades it receives.
Of course for those of a certain age, this logo does conjure up memories that may colour our appreciation of this design. However, it truly still stands as a great example of creative logo design.
What do you think, do you remember this logo, does it ‘work’ for you?