I see that the Symbian Foundation’s new logo has taken a mauling on several blogs and in the trade press. I enjoy Andrew Orlowski’s pieces in The Register. I’d go so far as to describe him as my favourite at El Reg, certainly since the departure of Ashlee Vance. But like many of an intellectual bent, he is dismissive of branding.
The question people wrongly ask themselves when they consider a brand is, “do I like it?”. This is especially true of things that one is already emotionally invested in, such as football teams and, eh, open source projects. The real question is, “what kind of experience is this suggestive of?”. So, what do we think?
Well, I think that the Symbian Foundation are to be congratulated. Their new brand is, as they claim, human and playful and friendly. It is highly distinctive and yet it feels instantly familiar. This makes it memorable and, yes, it gives the project an identity. And from a practical point of view, the logo is easily portable – especially important considering where Symbian plays.
People love to take pot-shots at a branding that takes risks. But great branding is seldom uncontroversial (which is not to say that taste and ethics should not be important considerations – of course they should). It is easy to have a logo that conforms, that is a nice piece of graphic design, but that challenges nothing. However, to have a logo that looks a little out of place, that jars, that challenges the very behaviour of the people who it represents – it takes nerve and it takes imagination. I think that Symbian has done an excellent job of daring to be different with this logo.