For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Friday, 2 January 2004

HOW CROWS' FEET CAN IMPROVE YOUR IMAGE

The IPKat’s been spending New Year’s Day productively, reading an article from January 2004’s issue of The Railway Magazine marking the 40th anniversary of the introduction of British Rail’s (now National Rail) double arrow logo. Although the logo is known by some as the “crow’s foot”, it is in fact highly suggestive. The two parallel horizontal lines represent train lines, while the two arrows inform consumers that “BR services ran in both directions” [subject to leaves, snow and errant cows] and “represented speed, two-way movement and modernity”. The logo was first used on the side of a locomotive in May 1964 and since then has refused to die. In fact, it succeeded, until privatization, in giving the railways the unified image they had previously lacked. Despite being condemned for being too stark and functional, it has become synonymous with the railways, so much so that when it rejected by the companies operating the newly privatised railways, ownership was transferred to the Department of Transport, which then licensed it back to Railtrack and the Association of Train Operating Companies. Now the logo is used on tickets, road signs, timetables and other publicity. The article attributes at least part of its success to the fact that is was capable of being used on all sorts of things, from staff caps, to ships’ funnels to tableware.

The IPKat was intrigued by this example of the power and longevity of a good logo. He also points out that the issue of suggestive marks such as this logo is relatively untested. Unlike words, logos require more interpretation by the person perceiving them (here for example, the meaning of the BR symbol is only clear once it is explained, at which point it become pretty obvious). Additionally, there are various ways of pictorially representing an idea that can be described in a single word or phrase.

Get rid of crow’s feet here
More about BR’s image here
Buy a bit of BR history here


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