A “Living” Logo For Wikipedia, With More Than 3.2 Million Variations

Moving Brands’s hypothetical mark tries to capture the dynamism of the most popular crowdsourced encyclopedia in the world and, at the same time, help users improve Wikipedia entries.

Try drawing Wikipedia’s logo purely from memory. You can’t, right? Because it’s terribly unmemorable, an unfinished globe constructed out of jigsaw puzzle pieces and inscribed with glyphs from a bunch of different writing systems, symbolizing “the multilingualism of Wikipedia.” It’s the branding equivalent of “We Are The World”: blandly earnest. So Moving Brands, a British design studio, came up with a hypothetical alternative: a shapeshifting “W” that uses JavaScript to generate a unique movement and mark for every search term in the Wiki-universe. With more than 3.2 million possible permutations, it’s designed to fluctuate as much as a Wikipedia article itself.


“To become an integral part of people’s lives, Wikipedia needs not only to have a strong brand, but also a strong core story and the ability to own a part of people’s minds,” Moving Brands strategist Camilla Grey tells Co.Design. “It is one of the top most visited websites globally, millions of people rely on it for information, but still when you think of universally relevant Internet brands, Wikipedia is never the site that comes to mind. … The existing mark limits the brand in terms of the different stories it can tell about itself, and its ability to change and adapt to the world around it.”

The subtext here is that a powerful brand is instrumental to Wikipedia’s success. Wikipedia is a non-profit. Presumably, the more visible the brand, the more likely the organization will attract the donations it needs to stay afloat. And an eye-catching logo can help.

The designers drew a mark out of just five lines, a nod to the five principles Wikipedia operates on. That produces a “W” with nine equidistant nodes, one for each of the encyclopedia’s nine sister sites. From there, a second line courses through and around the W, with its precise look changing depending on what keyword you search. Grey explains:

The mark is created by charting the momentum of content throughout the nine Wikimedia sites and generated according to the chronological order of content creation. Opportunities for content to be filled in are revealed with each new search. If one of the nine points on the mark has not been hit, it is an indication that there is no content available for that search term on that Wikimedia site. Hopefully, this will encourage people to add their own content when they see an area is missing.

In short, the mark is designed not only to capture the remarkable variation within the Wikipedia empire (though are 3.2 million permutations really enough? Seems small for a site that’s given us everything from an exhaustive history of Metroid to 29,000 words on 7th Heaven episodes), but additionally to subtly nudge people into actually improving the sites–it’s like a workhorse, with a capital “W.”

Moving Brands devised the logo for Viewpoint Magazine’s “Overhaul” feature in which agencies showcase their creative process by hypothetically rebranding a global company. More info here.

[Images courtesy of Moving Brands; hat tip to Brand New]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.