I was shocked the first time I heard someone say, “Put the bug in the corner.” The bug!
As professionals, we prefer logo, logotype, mark, symbol, wordmark, icon, visual identity or signature. With this many choices it is no wonder others have settled on the irreverent bug. Incidentally, a long-time friend in Mumbai told me of some of the general names for logo in India include pintu (pint sized), chintu (tiny), dabboo (fat) and kaka (small one). (But depending on the specific region, language and even community in India, kaka also can mean poo-poo, as elsewhere. I guess context is everything, when calling a logo kaka in India.)
But whether we designed it, manage it, or just live with it, having a name for the logo appears to fulfill some human need. Some companies provide a formal name, such as The Monogram (GE). Here are a few logos and their officially sanctioned names:
More often, there are names that percolate up from either within or outside the company. These nicknames tend to be more colorful and memorable, but often are edgy, even derogatory. Individuals develop strong allegiances to these names as well. My discussion of this posting with friends stirred up a spirited debate about who, in corporate America, owns the moniker Meatball.
Many nicknames are purely descriptive, such as two and a half hotdogs on a plate (Warner Communications) or the hockey sticks (Rockwell). Others take on a more associative approach. I winced the first time I saw the nickname Death Star printed, of all places, in a Bloom County comic strip:
The serious question, for designers and brand managers: Is it better to conjure up an official name, as a preemptive strike, or to leave the naming door open to others?
As a designer I have struggled with the very idea of naming logos. Leaving the logo untitled (the work speaks for itself) is tempting; but I find the same approach to be annoying on real works of art. Other choices range from ploddingly descriptive such as the Oval (Pfizer) to PR-driven names that would send the BS meter off the charts - shining, polished orb of wisdom. I made that one up but you get the point.
Years ago at Lippincott, we developed a new corporate identity for Becton Dickinson. An employee wore the symbol as a costume for the company Halloween party. The term demonic clown was overheard, but fortunately dissipated quickly:
Personally, I err on the side of a preemptive name. When I consulted with LodgeNet Interactive, we learned that the term “digital pipeline” was used by their senior management to describe how they distribute their products and services. This term became an inspiration for the logo and was leveraged to become the name for their symbol:
A few of the classic nicknames:
And what are your favorite logo names?