A Tribute To Dead Logos From The Past

A celebration, of sorts, for logos created for AT&T, Pan Am, and Kodak, by legends like Paul Rand, Saul Bass, and Lance Wyman.

What makes a logo super effective? According to Declan Stone, minimalism has the maximum effect. “In general, great logos contain only one graphic idea or one gimmick–they try to express no more than one attribute and support a single aspect of positioning,” he tells Co.Design. Even the best marks must be attached to a successful company to survive, however. Almost a decade ago, Declan and Garech Stone–aka Amsterdam’s Stone Twins–released Logo R.I.P., a hardback memorial to out-of-commission icons, and the book was rereleased this month with a series of new entries. (You can buy it at Amazon for $15.)


Selecting classics from the pantheon of highly recognizable symbols was a no-brainer–think AT&T, PanAm, Kodak, and work by venerable names like Paul Rand, Saul Bass and Lance Wyman–but other, less obvious entries, were also included. “Trademarks such as Rover Cars or Commodore Computers are not great designs, but resonated on a nostalgic level for many decades,” Declan explains.

The texts–or “obituaries”–accompanying the 50 headstones offer critical insights into the background behind the branding: short corporate histories, logo origins, and reasons why the marks were retired. And you don’t have to be deeply immersed in the graphic field to find something to appreciate. “Logo books are usually just a black and white tribute of form. By re-contextualizing them into a graveyard, we’re attempting to signify how logos have life and resonance beyond the design world,” he says. “They hoard our memories, passions, and reputations, and they’re also cultural barometers–expressions of a recent but bygone age.”

This reissue also comes at an interesting crossroads where new digital paradigms are putting logos in the spotlight (we’re looking at you, apps), unsolicited rebrands are absolutely everywhere, and big companies are struggling to maintain their presence. “The present global financial crisis will surely see the collapse of many more financial behemoths and household brands,” Declan says. “The loss of any design classic is a tragedy, regardless of the reason: mergers, buy-outs, bankruptcy, repositioning, or the whim of a CEO. However, what compounds a loss is when a re-style or rebrand is wholly inadequate.” Though he claims this is the definitive version of Logo R.I.P., it seems that there might be a place on the shelf for Volume II somewhere down the line. “With the pace of corporate funerals set to pick up further, we won’t put away the black garb yet.”

Click here to buy Logo R.I.P. on Amazon.