Mason Weis

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Originality in Design

As I was scrolling through my twitter feed yesterday, I came across a tweet that disheartened me quite a bit:

The image you see in Spencer Chen's tweet above is a series of logos that, in our current culture, we have come to associate with Medium, Airbnb, Flipboard and Beats respectively. Below, I've made a similar image with the logos for those companies for comparison's sake:

The logos for Medium, Airbnb, Flipboard and Beats.

The logos for Medium, Airbnb, Flipboard and Beats.

While these logos range from extremely similar (Medium and Flipboard) to outright identical (Airbnb and Beats), it is clear that these similarities are more than enough to cause outrage within certain areas of the the online design community. For example, here is just one response to Chen's tweet:

Additionally, on reddit's "/r/graphic_design" subreddit, one post about this claimed in its title that "It's like they're not even trying."

 

While this image certainly made me feel the same way at first, I began to think a lot about the nature of originality and design. While it is true that each of these logos are extremely similar to these "predecessors," I believe they are not exactly the "cut and paste job" that the internet is making them out to be. It is my belief, in fact, that there are a finite number of geometric shapes that can represent a certain letter and look coherent and recognizable.

 

However, this extends past symbolic representations of letters as well. The notion that every logo is completely original is one that is simply false. The fact of the matter is, identical logos can be found all over the place. As an example, here is an article detailing many cases of logos that are exactly the same. In all honesty, it is incredibly difficult to come by a wholly original idea anymore because nearly everything has been done already. Rather than condemn the companies using these logos, we should appreciate the way in which they are being used. Each has been carefully crafted to suit their brands based on the choice of color and their appearance (even if they are less than original). And, what's more, they are instantly recognizable, given the fact that they were so easily identified. Seeing as the ultimate function of a logo is to make a brand identifiable in the first place, these logos clearly do their jobs well. So, with everything said and done, I will leave you with this quote from director Jean-Luc Godard:

It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.
— Jean-Luc Godard

Until next time!

Mason Weis