http://zhurnaly.com/images/zhurnalwiki_img/hand_bird_star.jpgThe most brilliant yet overlooked corporate symbol of all time? There are many fine candidates, and tastes doubtless differ. But my favorite remains the extraordinarily powerful, peaceful, primitive image that I first saw several years ago on a "Pharmacia & Upjohn" box of medicine.

... a rough outline, suggestive of cave painting or petroglyph, with three crude icons stretching upward:

    - star
    - bird
    - hand

Nothing more. Just a blaze of simplicity that still haunts my thoughts.

Pharmacia & Upjohn no longer exists: the company (as the name suggests, itself a product of merger) was taken over in 2000 by Monsanto, then acquired by Pfizer. Or maybe I've got that backwards? No matter. Regardless of commercial use or disuse, the logo remains proud and lovely and true, like a mathematical theorem, in a space of its own.

In an excellent 1997 article Tony Spaeth writes about corporate identity change as demonstrated through logos. Of Pharmacia & Upjohn he observes:

Stockholm-based Pharmacia and Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Upjohn chose neutral ground, London, for the new company's headquarters and for similar reasons considered only British identity designers. The result (by Newell & Sorrell) is indeed very British both in being figurative and narrative (meaning it is not simply visual but requires verbal explanation); the hand, bird, and star are meant to signal "humanity, hope, and inspiration." Others might see charity, hope, and faith, or even a Trinity. At small size, the symbol is a blot but, blown up big, appears to be a photograph of an actual flat rock, the shapes outlined in confetti. And to be even more different, the rock is purple.

This, too, is thinking outside the box --- way out, with a Stone Age feel closer to faith than science.

See [1] for a copy of Spaeth's essay as it appeared in The Conference Board Magazine, February 1997, under the title "Identities of the 1990's".

My spirit is profoundly moved by the connections that little hand - bird - star iconic triptych conveys: man, life, and universe ... technology, nature, and ideal ...

(see also FlyingEagle (16 Apr 2002), CeramicMantra (25 May 2002), AchieveNewBalance (17 Jul 2002), ...)

TopicArt - TopicPhilosophy - TopicLife - 2003-05-03

(correlates: WindToThyWings, InTheName, ExtraCurricular, ...)