Logos vs. Mythos
Logo property of Starbucks, Logo property of Nike
One example Armstrong gives is that our ancestors learned how to hunt, build weapons and organize expeditions using objective skills (logos). Yet learning to deal with the complicated emotions involved in killing animals or getting lost in the jungle or risking one’s life is reconciled in myth.
So how does that apply to the Nike swoosh or the Starbucks mermaid? All of these symbols represent the values and attributes of each company and serve as logos. They also project hope and the promise of the future and serve as myths.
Renaissance Capital is a successful financial research firm in Greenwich, CT. that studies Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and produces extensive research reports for their clients and subscribers. Their old logo featured an Old English “R” common in the newspaper mastheads like The New York Times. This logo was old, but not from the Renaissance period. My firm was hired to create a new logo and we wanted to know why the company was named “Renaissance.” We were told that the founders wanted to evoke the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of DaVinci and Michelangelo because they felt that the founders of Google, Ebay and the leading IPOs were the Renaissance people of today. Whew! How do you make a symbol of that? A symbol for that?
In creating a logo for Renaissance Capital, we had to understand their company name and embody the client’s challenge that the logo had to “say I-P-O.” The logo solution is based on a Greek revival Ionic column motif that is inspired by Renaissance design and literally spells out the letters “I-P-O.” The brand is mythic because it embodies the promise and aspirations of the new Renaissance Capital, it is a logo because it represents a company that delivers real research and useful intelligence on the IPO marketplace.
Which Is Bigger the Logo or the Company?
Can a mythic brand save a company? Enron had an impressive logo but that did not help a company caught in a notorious financial scandal. Legendary designer Saul Bass designed the original globe artwork for the AT&T logo and even though the company failed in the marketplace the brand was purchased by Cingular who renamed itself “the new AT&T” and relaunched the global icon. The AT&T brand was more than a logo. It was bigger than the failed company that it represented, it was a mythic brand.