Is the overuse of geography in logo design clichés an exception?

 Icons are able to communicate an idea or message with ease as compared to words. Another plus, is that in most cases icons are not language dependent. The icons of a ‘man and woman’ used on toilets communicate the same order globally.

While icons enable a quicker communication in logos, we are at a point where most icons sort of reached their sell-by date.

The common misconception that a logo has to describe the business or what i does has contributed a lot in the over-use of icons.
Not every logo for companies in the internet industry, companies that trade globally or something ‘world-wide’ about their company has to have an icon of a globe.

With any company that claims to be an ‘ideas company’ — we get fed their company name with a light bulb!

We’ve all heard rants on the overuse of industry related icons, but I’ve never heard a single compliant on the over-use of geographic areas in logo designs.

Regardless of whether the logos are of companies trading in the same industry or not, isn’t differentiating self from others a huge part of attaching a logo to a brand?

The other issue is that such logos in many cases has no unique meaning attached to what the specific business is or stands for.

We all have seen our fair share of ‘cups’ in logos for coffee shops, car silhouette on logos for panel-beaters, and so on.

Let’s take a look at the (ab)use of geography in logo deign accompanied by the common logo design misconception:

How many ‘table mountains’ does one have to see as part of a logo, simply because the logo represents something ‘Cape Townish’ about a company or event?

From some of the logos above, isn’t the fact that the “Cape Town” is part of their name enough to tell us that it’s a Cape Town event, restaurant, company or movement?

I don’t even want to start on the overuse of ‘Africa,’ well, the shape of my beloved continent.

It seems cliches are acceptable, only when the over-used icon is of a landmark, country or continent.

I’m starting to suspect that to most graphic designers the first thing that comes to mind is, if the company name is *something something Africa*, not much thought is given to the logo except — how can they make the shape of Africa more interesting and appealing when merged with the company name?.
When coming to what the logo communicates, whose spotlight is it? the business or the geographic area of which the business trades?

Are we taking a path of creating logos that merely describes where the business or event takes place?

  • Coda Said:

    Good post. I cringe whenever I see a local logo with an illustrated Table Mountain splashes across it when it has nothing to do with the mountain. (although admittedly I’ve fallen into this trap once or twice – it’s a very adaptable shape). The first row of logos featuring Table Mountain I could forgive, because they have a global reach and hold more weight than the others in terms of using the mountain as a selling point.

    Here are some more African continent logos for you.
    — On April 30th, 2009 at 2:49 pm [permarlink]
  • Roman G Said:

    I think a lot of designers use geographic iconography because they haven’t done the proper research into their client’s business or haven’t delved enough into a location’s history. Usually a deeper look into either of these yields fresher design possibilities.
    — On April 30th, 2009 at 5:33 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:


    I agree that the logos in the first row can get away with this, as you have mentioned, the geographic area is their selling point. Thanks for the link!

    Roman G,

    I share the same sentiment, other times it’s merely graphic designers following convention. Welcome and thanks for sharing your view.
    — On April 30th, 2009 at 9:50 pm [permarlink]
  • Shortest logo brief ever; just don't copy other logos! — by — Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    […] Preferably reflect colours of South African flag. (post regarding this “preferences”) […]
    — On January 13th, 2010 at 10:39 pm [permarlink]
  • Kyle Rolfe Said:

    Check out the nice logo designed by Interbrand for CBA Kenya This for me is good use of the African continent as the designer almost earned the right to use it by creating something visually unique. Nice conceptually too with the highlight of Kenya.
    — On November 24th, 2010 at 3:22 pm [permarlink]


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