Reactor

Can You Ever Have Too Many Logos?

by Kyle Chayka on March 10, 2011

MIT Media Lab's new self-generating logo (image via fastcodesign.com)

MIT’s Media Lab (possibly the coolest place on Earth) just rolled out a new logo. The trick is that this logo isn’t just one image, or anything you’d expect from traditional branding. It’s actually a self-generating logo with over 40,000 possible variations, including thousands of shifts in colors and composition. Now, is there such a thing as too many logos?

Though the overall look of the logo stays the same, a kind of collage of abstract spotlights emanating out from central black squares, each variations features the spotlights in different positions, shining at different angles and in different colors. When the spotlights intersect, they mix colors and form new gradients.

FastCo Design reports that the new logo system will function almost as unique IDs for Media Lab staff and students. Each member of the department will choose their own unique spotlight logo, and an online directory will make sure that no two people use the same logo. The 40,000 variations will provide enough unique images for over 25 years of use.

Dynamism is a rare concept in branding, with companies often simply overhauling their image periodically, so the Media Lab’s logo system seems like a huge step forward for identity branding. Trust such an innovative institution to take the leap. What’s really cool is that they also put out a video with examples of branded tote bags and business cards, plus animations of the different variations the logo can take. Check it out below:

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  • http://twitter.com/NorthsideTony Tony Black

    that is about as nice a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin getting it on… (or, have those nerds never seen NASCAR?)

  • http://twitter.com/NorthsideTony Tony Black

    it’s like they looked at the Kama Sutra and didn’t understand any of it.

  • Neil Leinwohl

    One great logo beats 40,000 variations of a bad one.

    • http://twitter.com/chaykak Kyle Chayka

      Just curious, why do you think this is a bad logo, even as a single image? I like it, but granted I don’t know a ton about logo design.

  • Matthew Langley

    I’m not crazy about the design, however it’s use in context is going to be what ultimately defines it’s good or bad attribute.

    The reason being logos are rarely used by themselves – this logo (with all its permutations) will still have the MIT media lab type line so it’s not like the logo is in a bubble somewhere – it will be supported contextually and well as defined inside a fairly clear style guide.

    To me a more interesting question is how will the various designs be used in a way to be even more evocative than a “traditional” logo.

    Matthew langley

  • http://www.facebook.com/Scott.Bl8ke Scott Blake

    Reminds me of Rhizome’s generative logo back in 2001.
    http://rhizome.org/editorial/2001/sep/5/the-worlds-first-generative-logo/

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