Designing an effective visual identity is one of the hardest jobs of a graphic designer. Compressing a myriad of messages of an organisation or product (history, culture, attitude, philosophy etc.) into a single mark can be close to impossible. And an effective identifier shouldn’t just communicate to an audience but also be appealing when used across different media and in different sizes. A designer needs to make sure that a successful logo works even when it is stripped of any cosmetic treatment (such as shadows, colour gradients, relections and glows) and printed in one colour or used as a favicon. Coming to think of it, great logos are a rare species.
An example of a great visual identifier is this logo for The New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute designed by BRR. It is conceptually fantastic and its application (having the waterline extend outside the mark on the institute’s homepage) is surprisingly effective. With its basic forms and a neutral, sans serif typeface, it creates a powerful visual mark for the institute without any unnecessary decorative elements. The appropriation of such a powerful visual metaphor and its reinterpretation in a novel composition is brilliantly simple. It is clearly identifiable as an iceberg, without being ‘obvious’.
It’s definitely a case where a logo ‘says it all’.