Turning a Name into a Logo

Roald Dahl Banner

A logo or visual identity for a a major public figure can help to solidify everything they stand for in one simple motif. Over the past few decades they’ve become more and more popular, especially in the arena of sports men and women. Unlike musician and band logos, where a visual identity is part of their overall package, sports people often use a logo to market their products and signify their importance.

But the arena of sports isn’t the only place where visual identities occur. We’ll start by looking at the popular childrens’ author Roald Dahl, for whom a new visual identity was unveiled last week to mixed reviews. Why do people care so much about a logo and what can they help to achieve?


Roald Dahl

Road Dahl Banner 2

We were all children once, and it’s likely that we’ve all been impacted by at least one of Roald Dahl’s works in one form or another. His stories are synonymous with the scruffy and iconic drawings of Quentin Blake which have a rough around the edges feel. Dahl’s old logo was his name simply written by Blake himself and perfectly encapsulated the mood and tone of his work in one simple image. The new refreshed logo, however, peels away these associations and presents a much blander and sterile graphic that doesn’t match the tone of Dahl’s work. Raul Gutierrez, founder and CEO of children’s app company Tiny Bop was this week quoted as saying:

Most 10-year-olds want to be 11- or 12-year-olds, and the multicolored treatment reads to me like something for a 5-year-old. The paper airplane reads to me as forced whimsy and its realism is is at odds with Quentin’s Blake’s illustrations.

It’s much easier to criticise work when it feels like a step backwards from its predecessor of which it was trying to improve upon. But when a visual identity strips away what generations know and love about a public figure it can sting a little. Will it help to boost sales of Dahl’s books and reinvigorate his work for a new audience? Only time will tell.


Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo Banner

One of football’s most iconic figures, Cristiano Ronaldo, uses his “CR7” brand and logo wherever possible. It’s an example of a brand that doesn’t use the person’s name directly, but references it in attempt to make the sportsman more marketable. This particular case has been a success, and Ronaldo’s been able to use his CR7 brand to shift millions of items of sportswear around the globe .


Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan Banner

Michael Jordan doesn’t even use his name in his brand. The “Jumpman” logo is owned by Nike to promote its Michael Jordan-related merchandise and shows a silhouetted Jordan performing a trademark slam-dunk. Consumers outside of the world of basketball may not necessarily associate the logo directly with Jordan himself, but that’s not the point here. Those that buy these products do so because of Jordan’s association with them, and this logo provides a not-so-overt signal to the in-crowd that they’re the real deal.


Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods Banner

Tiger Woods has chosen to go down the route of making his initials into a stylised logo. This clean and bold logo gives an element of class to the golfer’s identity, and most importantly of all looks good on his sportswear. Its minimalist approach makes it somewhat iconic and very easy to remember. A stylised logo out of initials is highly effective when it works, but this isn’t always the case…


Tom Brady

Tom Brady Banner

Tom Brady has also chosen to go down the route of making his initials into a stylised logo, albeit in a slightly more confusing manner. On first glance, what exactly does it say? T2? P2? 12? TB? Or is it just a collection of shapes? It it even up the right way? It’s meant to be read in more than one way: TB for Tom Brady and 12 for the number he wears on the back of his jersey. It’s an attempt at being clever, but ultimately results in a logo that tries to say too much and ends up saying nothing at all.


And Many, Many More

  • Outside the world of sport, Kim Kardashian goes by this rather strange looking icon that looks like it could be a character in another alphabet. It’s again another example of forcing initials into a logo that should never have been approved. To make matters worse, it’s accused of being a rip-off.
  • In the fashion world, Kanye West has reportedly asked designer Peter Saville to conceive a visual identity for him. In an interview last year, Saville said he was asking himself “What does ‘Kanye’ and ‘Kanye West’ look like written down?”. It’s yet to arrive, so it’s either been scrapped or we’re in for a visual mess/masterclass (delete as appropriate).
  • Another interesting visual identity for a musician was unveiled last year – that of Taylor Swift. She currently goes by a hand-written logo written in what seems to be felt-tip pen. It’s fun, personable and unique – but only replicable to a certain extent.
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