In the Beginning was the Logo – Continued

In the Beginning was the Logo – Continued

You may have noticed that the Centre for Christian Studies has a new logo popping up on our website and other places.  A few months ago I presented a retrospective of CCS logos past, and now that our new logo is here it seems appropriate to continue the story.  We’ve asked Del Sexsmith, chair of the Communications and Promotions Committee, to offer some thoughts on the nature of logos….

In the beginning was the Word… (John 1: 1)

We are all familiar with that text. All things start with the Word. We are marked by it.

And what does that have to do with our new logo? A little trivia first.

Logos is Greek for “word” and typos is Greek for “imprint.” Out of “logotype”, we have the abbreviation “logo”, the longer form of the word telling us that a logo is a graphic mark, emblem or symbol. We live with logos every day; they are synonymous with a corporate brand. In fact, we probably see a hundred or more logos every day without their truly registering with our conscious thoughts. Did you see the Apple logo when you turned on your laptop? The Windows logo on your desktop? Of course, you did. But you have already pushed this observation into the matrix of images that you accept as part of navigating your world.

Humans have developed the basic stuff of logos over a period of thousands of years, starting with ancient seals on cylinders. And coins were embossed with images hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. But our formal appreciation of logos didn’t officially get kick-started until the 1870’s, apparently, when the makers of Bass Ale trademarked their image of a red triangle and corporate branding was underway. Shortly thereafter, the Red Cross/Red Crescent set their logos. Proving that not all corporate entities are commercial. Among the better known brands, entities such as Coca-Cola and IBM have chosen to use their product name or acronym as the logo. But a simple symbol is the most effective tool for making an impression on the conscious and unconscious mind.

Christian ichthus

Strong logos strive to obtain instant recognition while earning the respect and understanding of the viewer. Christianity has been at this since the inception. There are those two intersecting arcs that (Greek again) we know as ichthus or the sign of the fish.

Latin Cross

That’s been about since the first century AD and now adorns cars everywhere, it seems. And then we have the most powerful images of the faith: the cross. There’s the Greek Cross with both lines equal in size, the Latin Cross with the horizontal cross shorter and higher on the vertical and the one that resonates with me, the Celtic Cross. It hangs in my study. But is it an icon or a logo?


Celtic Cross

It all depends on how you use it or how you view it. Strong logos move into colour as easily as they stand embossed in black or white. (Quick now: what colour is the Apple logo?).

As we undertake fresh programming and embrace new staff, it seems fitting for CCS  to introduce a new logo: a “C’, representing the Centre for Christian Studies. Here’s what the Branding Guidlelines document says about it:

Centre for Christian Studies

The “C” consists of coloured rays coming out of a central circle, graphically displaying our imagination of community centred in Christ and stretching outward into the community around us. The coloured rays also represent our own intimate communities of care giving us strength and encouragement to extend care to the margins of society and, reciprocally, receive challenge and insight from the margins to the centre. The “C”, a half circle, illustrates the openness to new ideas, dialogue and an invitation for others to enter. The half-circle graphically represents a welcoming, inclusive community. The diversity of colour represents the diversity of thought, experience and people. We are one body, but many individuals. The brown, green and blue tones reflect theological grounding in “diakonia”– the earth and sky. The yellows and oranges represent the light, imagination and hope – the sun and Son.

That’s a lot to grasp from one artistic representation. But over time, it will begin to embody all of those things to us at a glance. So, in short, the key attributes of a good logo are:

  • It’s easy for the eye to grasp (recognizable);
  • It embodies a key aspect of the corporate name (understandable);
  • It can be explained easily (explainable);
  • It can be embossed in one colour or media or enhanced with colour simply (flexible);
  • It can be used for a long period of time (durable).

Egyption ankh

And there you have it: the means to assess our logo or any logo, starting with the grand-daddy of them all:

The Egyptian ankh, or symbol of life. Of course, we don’t know for sure if that was the original logo; after all, CNN wasn’t there at the time to document it for us. Ah, CNN. Now there’s a good logo, too.

-Del Sexsmith

Cross images and trivia source: Wikipedia