The Legacy of Logos

I had a birthday last week, which always lends itself to reflection and self-examination. You know, that whole taking of stock of your life, coming to grips with your mortality and pondering your legacy nonsense. OK, so that’s heavy-handed and I’m not quite that old yet, but you get the idea.

Interestingly enough, I was reading the paper and saw an article in the business section on how Positively Cleveland is laying out tourism plans for the region. The image used in the article caught my eye, mostly because it was a picture of a logo I created roughly 15 years ago.

From the March 28 edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer

I was working for a small design firm at the time (actually, I was the only designer on staff) and I was tasked with developing the logo for Canalway. Canalway is a designated National Heritage Area consisting of a 110 mile stretch along the Ohio canal path. I was excited to work on a project that afforded such public visibility.

As many of these types of projects go, the initial excitement gave way to disillusionment due to long delays in getting concepts approved and moved through the design process. Eventually, the final logo was approved and then… nothing happened. I turned over the files and never heard another word. I moved on to the launch of Saremo and forgot all about it.

Final approved logo, submitted sometime in the late '90s.

About a decade later I was driving down around Peninsula and saw the sign that is featured in the newspaper article. Apparently at some point they took the logo, tweaked it and decided to run with it. I’ve since seen this sign all over the state, from downtown Cleveland to southern Ohio. It always makes me happy, not because the design itself is any great thing, but because it’s still around. That’s the beauty of logos; when done well, they have a permanence and timeless quality. Sure, they may get tweaked over the years, but the iconic appeal of a well designed logo never goes out of style.

What post on logo design would be complete without a nod to the late great Paul Rand? Just take a look at these three logos created by him and see if you recognize them.

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