So, I was sitting on an interview panel this morning, the third interview for the position we’re currently trying to hire for, and before me was a clipboard that I’ve been using, not only for each interview, but off and on for a good 5-6 years, and for the first time after all that usage I noticed the logo of the company, Charles Leonard, Inc., from whom the clipboard was purchased, who knows how long ago:
And I thought to myself, “What the HELL is that?!”
Seriously, it seemed to be made up of three elements, none of which were immediately identifiable, from the top down:
- some kind of vaguely gun-shaped thingy?
- a kitchen measuring tablespoon?
- a very flat shoe?
…and, certainly, nothing really resembled anything related to office products.
By the time my lunch break rolled around I knew I wanted to blog about this, and I couldn’t wait to do some research. My blog post, I was sure, would be all about how the logo fails, how a logo should decidedly NOT be puzzling, that a company’s brand should be immediately recognizable and tightly associated with the company’s business.
And so, my first stop was Google Image Search, where I found this Charles Leonard logo:
Now, regardless of whether or not a trained graphic designer (which I’m not) would consider this a good logo, or even whether or not anyone would find this aesthetically pleasing, it IS abundantly clear what it is: CLI = Charles Leonard, Inc.
But then, a funny thing happened.
As I was pulling together the two versions of the logo for this post — taking a photo of the clipboard and editing it, downloading the other version, looking at them closely, comparing them — I suddenly and shockingly noticed something best displayed with my embarrassingly rudimentary Photoshop skills:
I’ll wait as you scroll up and down and it all sinks in.
I happen to have some experience with logo design, having served on several committees charged with developing new logos, and one of the things we always included in our development process was a stipulation that the final design must work well in a variety of applications: in print, on the web, on t-shirts, with one color, grayscale, or multi-color. And so, in this very narrow regard, and with the aforementioned need for the logo to be immediately obvious as to what it says and is, you could determine that the clipboard application of the CLI logo failed…
…OR…you could say that it’s a VERY cool optical illusion!
As with most optical illusions, once you’ve figured out the trick being played on the eye you’ll never NOT notice it again. Check it out. Scroll up now and look at the first photo of the clipboard and you will not be able to miss the “CLI”.
So, ultimately, is it a successful logo?
Well, it got me to spend a good half hour of my lunch break thinking about Charles Leonard, Inc., something I never saw coming.
Therefore, I’d have to answer with a resounding, “Yes!”