Dragons, Lions and Alligators: The Origins of the Logo and its Influence on Today’s Brands

By Bruce Macdonald.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The logo is usually small, seemingly insignificant, yet large in meaning and application. As a brand for a consumer product it can influence millions of buyers, generate bottom line profit in the billions of dollars, can be the major player in a worldwide marketing effort. “The logo is the glue that ties all the information about the brand, together,” so said Michel Pham, Professor of Marketing at Columbia University.
How did such a powerful design tool come to be? Logos, as defined as devices with the function of identifying something, or somebody, have existed for at least 2000 years-probably longer. Their shapes and styles influence us in ways, subtle and obvious, consciously and subconsciously, profoundly and often instantaneously.
My paper will trace the logo from one momentous event – at Hastings, Sussex in Britain in the 11th century, then follow it forward to France in the 15th, and finally to the 20th century in modern America. If time permits I will take it into the 19th century in the American rural south.

Keywords: Logo, Origin, History, Meaning, Brand, Influence, Design Tool, Virginia Colony, American Rural South

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.251-258. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.145MB).

Bruce Macdonald

Adjunct Professor, Business Administration Department, Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, USA

Native of Chicago, born there in 1934, went to Trinity College (BA Degree), Connecticut, then the American Academy of Art. Freelance illustrator until 1970, then graphic designer and division manager of Young & Rubicam Advertising, London and New York. In 1983 I founded my own firm, Libby Macdonald and Shear, and am presently the Chairman Emeritus of that organization. Since retiring in 2000 I have been teaching advertising and design at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. I published a book on this subject in 2008, called The Bridge, The Role of Design in Marketing, Morgan James Publishers, NY, 2008.

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