Why the Sony Vaio Logo is a Beacon of Good Logo Design

I want to put forward that the Sony Vaio logo is debatably one of the strongest logos designed in the last 100 years, and here’s why.

Professional logo design includes many stages of creation, and the majority of time is not always spent crafting the logo itself. A large amount of billable hours can be spent on due diligence, often referred to as the discovery stage. This is the opportunity to search for key information that will inform the design of the logo. This stage of research and discovery is paramount to the overall success of the logo, it is important to understand who your audience is, what makes them tick, and how they are interacting with your brand or similar brands.

Market research garnished from the discovery stage can manifest itself in a few ways in the design of the logo.

  1. It can be informative but not appear in the logo.
  2. It can be visually incorporated in a more literal sense. (meaning the symbol or wordmark reflects the product or service closely)
  3. It can be subtly incorporated, often seen as an easter egg or hidden message.

A little word about the validity of these three ways to use market research in logo design: none is superior to another as long as their reasoning was inline with their goals and research. For example, it may be sharply advantageous to have a logo that is more literal when the product or service is less familiar to the general public. Your logo then can become a part of the education process, so that consumers can identify what your business does.

However, I would contend that subtle use of informed design elements to communicate an intentional message will often show a higher level of understanding in the company and brand. Not to mean that it’s superior in its effectiveness, but more so that easter eggs in a logo are not accidental.

The Technology

Both the analog wave and binary code, in this case, are vehicles that carry the information to and from your screen. Analog waves are a less reliable and an imperfect method to transfer data. Binary has been the successor with higher fidelity and smaller packaging.

This transition is easily illustrated in televisions where analog waves were predominantly captured by your tv’s antennas to transmit the image and sound of the program you were watching. The new technology, however, uses digital binary code to transfer and receive your cable signal, allowing for higher quality imaging and advanced functionality.

The Implementation

The Sony Vaio logo is made of two parts, the “va” and “io”. Both parts were cleverly crafted to contain a deeper meaning based on the history of the company, the progression of the technology and Sony’s transition into the future. Beginning with the more antiquated technology, the analog wave, the “v” and “a” are combined to reflect the image of an analog wavelength. Moving from left to right, showcasing the progress into the future; the “i” and “o” then work together to represent binary code. The movement from left to right, from the analog wave to binary code, reinforces the progress of the technology and showcases Sony’s movement from television products and into digital computing: the intended purpose of the Vaio sub-brand.

To summarize, the Sony Vaio logo has three concealed messages; the analog wave, the binary code and logos transition from left to right highlighting the evolution of the technology and the company.

Because this type of intelligent and informed logo design is being overlooked and the light is being shined too brightly on the wrong marks.

I am going to use one logo in specific for this example, but please feel free to apply this argument to many logos like it that appear on common “top ten famous logos with hidden messaging” lists, which often don’t even include the Sony Vaio logo.

To amplify my argument for putting the Sony Vaio logo forward as the centuries best logo, I will compare it to a logo often cited for its creativity and use of negative space to create subtle and hidden messaging: the FedEx logo.

Let’s clear one thing up, this is a strong logo, its designer, Lindon Leader, is an accomplished individual and has the client list to back this up. The intent of this article is not to criticise the FedEx logo, I am strictly going to look at the logos acclimations and how it relates to the oversight of the Sony Vaio logo.

At the crux of the FedEx’s logo is the hidden arrow, a clever design feature implemented with negative space and intended to promote the fast and forward spirit of the company. This design feature has generated a multitude of design awards. I can boil down the logo to this feature, because without it the mark would simply be a custom sans serif with prescribed colours, not much room for creativity there. But the fact is, the hidden arrow is there and should be noted as the sole reason this logo is so widely acclaimed. That may come across as an unfair reduction of the logo, so I encourage you to think of additional elements in this logo that are deserving of its current status.

I contend that the FedEx logo is more widely known for two reasons:

  1. FedEx is everywhere — higher exposure means more familiarity
  2. Hidden message is easier to understand and more relatable.

Firstly, the Sony Vaio logo is largely limited to one product line and its associated marketing collateral. Whereas the FedEx logo is used for a delivery system that a tremendous variety of people and business use. The business types FedEx is in naturally exposes the logo to more people.

Secondly, an arrow and message of forward movement is almost intuitive and self explaining. Alternatively, the concept of analogue waves and binary is not as much a household concept as the arrow is. So once again the FedEx logo is garnishing more exposure due to its relatability — a strong argument for its success.

This may seem like an argument for why FedEx is the stronger logo, but let me build a metaphor for you that may help illuminate why this isn’t the case. Take the Oscars for example, the Oscar is not always given to the movie with the highest exposure, in other words the movie that sells the most tickets. Rather, the Oscar is awarded to the film that fundamentally understands the craft of creating a movie. The film that uses the creative process to convey its message in the most effective and thought invoking manor.

In closing, it is my opinion that that despite FedEx’s superior mass appeal, the Sony Vaio logo is stronger because of its fundamental understanding of the craft of creating a logo. And again, this does not mean that the FedEx logo is not deserving of its acclimation, but that the Sony Vaio logo is under represented as a beacon of strong and thoughtful design.

Originally published at www.marshalletaylor.com.

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Marshall Taylor 🇨🇦

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#blockchain researcher and writer | @realcoincentral • professional designer • type enthusiast