Cathay Pacific logo


Logos are the diamonds of corporate branding

Issued by: Brands & Branding

One of the memorable logos I have created among hundreds over a span of 22 years is surely that of Cathay Pacific. What started as a blue streak in a Cerrulean blue sky ended up as one of the most distinctive logos in the sky. I made several attemps at emulating calligraphic strokes with a flat square brush which was totally opposite to regular calligraphic brush. I used loads of water based paints as my whole studio turned into all shades of blue. In those days, Illustrator or Corel Draw were not even born or dreamnt of, let alone sassy Painter to achive those effects without dirtying my hands.

I recently found an interesting article listed in the encyclopedia of Brands and my logo was spoken about …in good prose. Wow ! I give full credit to the agency I was working at that time to trust that account to my Creative department. I can only smile each time I cross an airport and see this airline’s corporate logo ….. this is called professional bliss. 

If Design Indaba guest speaker several years ago, Fernando Gutiérrez, is right and logos are pieces of corporate jewellery, then this front-end of any larger branding effort is a treasure to invest in and get right, for the longer-term gain should outweigh the spend upfront.

So says Dave Holland in an article titled ‘Making your Marque’ which will be published in the upcoming edition of The Encyclopaedia of Brands & Branding in South Africa. Holland has just completed judging for the inaugural World Logo Design Annual and after trawling through 1500 logos, or symbols, wordmarks or icons in his personal time, noted his impatience and demanded something great and timeless, something that truly stands out with an enduring single-minded focus on communicating one simple idea brilliantly – a logo that tells a story that will always rise above, no matter what the prevailing wind has to say.

“There are plenty of good logos out there, hundreds of thousands of them, millions of them,” he says, “and all do a good enough job of basic identification. However, it is a sameness among all of these that reenergises me to continue seeking for, or designing, marks, for marques, that truly stand out, above and beyond the same.”

In his article, Holland identifies his ‘4 Cs’ for assessing great logo work, which he says are not always achievable all at once, but certainly useful as guiding lights:

  1. Concept – tell a story that has a single-minded meaning and avoids just ‘pushing style’.
  2. Clarity – be resonant and immediate, while preferably communicating one message only.
  3. Craft – balance, harmony, contrast and overall aesthetic pleasure should pull together.
  4. Context – differentiate from competitors, or adapt to and stand out in your unique market.

He lists 14 logos to contemplate that, he believes, currently achieve some, or all of the above. For example, there’s the calligraphic brush mark that looks like a wing for Cathay Pacific. This logo’s rich storytelling value (which draws directly from the region’s artistic and craft heritage) is simple, distinct, unique, visible, and artfully placed in a robust and modern corporate visual style.


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