Logo history

List of topics available for papers or lectures
in French or English


LOGO Genealogy

History of identity and trade marks, from neolithic till now

Long version: 2 hours & around 120 slides.
Short version: 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previous lectures

  • 15 novembre 2021: Graphéine, Lyon, France.
  • 30 avril 2021: Istituto Europeo di Design, Milano, Italy.
  • 8 mars 2021: Les amis du Musée de l’Imprimerie & de la Communication Graphique de Lyon, Archives départementales, Lyon, France.
  • 24 avril 2019 : Le Signe, Chaumont, France.
  • 16 avril 2019: École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Art, Paris, France.

Graphic design is a relatively recent professional discipline, yet if the separation between design and production took place progressively around the second half of the 19th century, the productions and supports of this practice have a much earlier history. Among the histories of books, posters and typography, it is worth noting the absence of a history of Logos.

Firstly, we will research the history of the logo as we know it, in order to trace the emblems and graphic marks that have influenced it. Secondly, we will highlight the common components of this genealogy: territoriality, narration and filiation.

Finally, we will attempt to answer the question: “Does a logo serve to distinguish itself? Identity marks (or emblems), such as commercial ones, have been constructed according to a graphic syntax allowing both recognition and inscription in a globality. In the same way that language aims at expression and not singularity via the construction of a language, the identity mark, then the commercial mark, is anchored in this logic. By becoming a logo, the brand loses its generative syntax to become a system of graphic style, each economic and cultural sector typifying its brand according to stylistic norms with shared informal denotations.


kaMon,
emblem & logo

From the court emblem, the battlefield to the trade mark

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previously published

  • Etapes: #263, september-october 2021

Mon are traditionnal japanese emblems appeared a thousand years ago in order to identify the Emperor and the nobility, mostly during the battle and the various wars. The emblems took a great place in the japanese culture in order to be applyed on shinto shrines and temples, as well for commerce and industry. Mon share a great interest in the references for logo modernism. 

  • From the colored standard to mon
  • The family mark on the battlefield
  • Divine protection & honnor to the Emperor
  • Identification
  • Religious symbolism
  • Popular & commercial pratices
  • Creation
  • Influence & marriage
  • Japanese logo (Mitsubishi, Kikkoman, Yamaha)
  • Katachi

seals from antiquity

Genesis of the logos

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previously published

  • Etapes: #265,
    january-february 2022

While domesticating the land and the animals, the man needs to identify his property. The invention of a graphic symbol as an emblem is the first appearance of a graphic system, before ciphers, before wryting.

But this private use evolved to become the emblem of a deity, emblem of a king, then of a city. The diplomatic use draw the pratice of an identity mark becoming also a social marker, a validation mark preserving the integrity of a good.

Because tracing the history of the first emblems and trade marks is tracing the silhouette of the evolution of the human relationship, its exchange, its expectations.

  • Ornaments of identity: prehistoric seals
  • Sealed logos: image, writing, authority
  • Stamped logos: titulus pictus

Marques médiévales

l’identité commerçante

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previously published

  • Etapes: #267,
    may-june 2022

In the medieval house, the hearth is the heart of the home, allowing everyone to live in rudimentary conditions while cooking meals. Some scholars report that the Germanic peoples used to engrave a sign made up of geometric shapes, sometimes runes, on one of the beams near the fire. This mark is said to have the ability to ward off bad luck, which is the only cause of fire or other disasters.
Different according to the house, they would have become marks of identity and property that the members of a family would reproduce on their house, their goods, their livestock, and even on their handicrafts. Presented as a superstition, the hypothesis nevertheless sheds light on numerous practices linking commercial marks and popular beliefs.

  • Merchants’ marks: from hearth to bundle
  • Stonemasons’ marks: the identity glyph
  • Printer’s marks: the invention of the logotype

Mascot

the embodied animal

Duration : 1 hour & around 60-80 slides.

Previously published

  • Etapes: #257,
    september-october 2020

We see them on posters, in commercials or in logos. Wild or pet, we imagine them as predators, clever or even capricious… The animals used by graphic designers are never more than a reflection of our human desires. And when Man dons the costume of an Animal, he becomes a mascot whose grotesque attitudes resemble those of a comic book or cartoon creature. Mascot is a catch-all word with a wider meaning than just a costume.

  • Mascot: the origin of a good luck charm
  • Modern mascot: personification for youth
  • Mascot: golden age
  • Postmodern mascot: the virtual embodied
  • Mascot or totem?