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  • Writer's pictureJack Chen

Visual Language – “99% Invisible” Podcast

Podcast Takeaways: 99% Invisible – Making a Mark: Visual Identity with Tom Geismar.

The podcast opens with an anecdote from Geismar on the logo design for Chase bank in 1961 with the intention of designing something which could be reproduced in various materials and sizes. The resulting logo is the current Chase bank logo with four interlocking shapes. The logo resembled the shape of ancient Chinese coins, which are shaped similar to contemporary coins but with a hole in the middle. Despite the correlation between the shape of a coin and banking, Geismar emphasized that the logo does not always have to pictorially represent an aspect of the brand, since when the associated is established, the audience will naturally respond to the shape of the logo with that of the brand rather than the shape itself.

The Chase logo design popularized the minimum and often geometric logo design style which is dominant today. The idea of designing logos to be easily reproducible across various mediums and sizes is especially relevant in the contemporary media landscape where audiences have the potential to see the branding from a variety of mediums, both virtually from various sized screens and physically from different signs placed throughout the city. This will continue being the case as visual elements and icons are dominating an increasing portion of our daily interactions as time goes by.

Geismar also mentions that there is rarely “love at first sight” when it comes to logo design, since it is more important for the logos to be appropriate for their intentions than to simply look good. Indeed, while there always exists an subjective artistic element in design, logos will bring the most quantifiable benefit to the brand if they are appropriate, distinct, and can be reproduced across a variety of mediums and sizes.

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