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Logotype designed for longevity ...

25th July, 2016 by Geoff

I was walking into work one morning last week and a lorry was at the traffic lights in front of me. It triggered a vivid memory.
The lorry belonged to a company called Colt International, based in Havant on the south coast of England. I have known the company as a heating and ventilation company, but today its remit is much broader. I recognised the logo; it had barely changed since it was created in the mid 1960's, around the time of England’s world cup win.
Amazingly the Colt logotype still feels to me to be up to date. Designed by the legendary Henrion Design Associates, who were responsible for the identities of BEA and KLM airlines as well as a whole host of other well know companies, Colt had the foresight to get it right. Of course, like any identity that has stood the test of time it has been redrawn and subtley tweeked a little over the years.
It got me thinking about other identities that have longevity on their side.

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ENO - English National Opera, designed by Mike Dempsey/CDT Design in 1992. I doubt the mark itself has changed much, but the graphics with which it is used with has kept pace with the 21st century, although in my view the current use of a lightweight version of ENO on its website doesn’t work as well as the original identity.
Similarly the Crafts Council logotype utilises a single large letterform, but this time with the words 'crafts council’ placed inside the letterform. The original John Rushworth/Pentagram design from the early 1990’s still does a job, though the original elegant serif face cut by Tom Perkins has been replaced with a condensed san serif typeface.

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Every design project has a client and a brief and, as we all know, briefs differ widely to reflect business outcomes and so the recent controversy about British Steel seems like sour grapes to the outsider. The original British Steel logo by David Gentleman is a masterpiece, which like the classic British Rail ‘arrows and track’ logo have had their day. The new British Steel branding by Ruddocks has obviously been designed on a budget to do a different job, and to these ends the type used for the name British Steel works okay, but with a bit more effort could have been transformed into a classic logotype without the need for the'B' logo mark.

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The recent brave move by the Co-op to revive its 'Cloverleaf’ design from 1968 has once again given them a instantly recognisable mark that will go a long way in reviving the fortunes of the Society. The redrawn letterforms by Studio North work well and the prospect of its use with the proposed shop exterior designs, help it feel even more a part of the 2020's, proving once again that old designs don’t necessarily have to be consigned to history.

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