Friday, February 19, 2010

Art for Business's Sake

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the need for businesses to embrace design and design thinking as a tool in solving nagging problems of identity, marketing and innovation.

(At a Chapters bookstore I recently saw a whole display of business-by-design books, presumably inspired by the release of U of T academic Roger Martin’s book, The Design of Business.)
I totally agree that business people should round out their left-brain tendencies by learning more about art, and how design can solve problems in addition to addressing esthetic issues. Still, I have worked with enough off-the-wall designers to understand that undisciplined estheticism can be as much hindrance as help. (“Why are you proposing this design?” “Because I like it. I don't have to explain it.”)

(If nothing else, you need some familiarity with art in order to push back with your designers.)

As a timely start to your art education, I recommend a recent article from BC Business magazine on the history of Olympic logos. Designer David Allison of Braun/Allison starts by examining the esthetics of the Vancouver Olympics logo, and then goes on to look at the designs from previous Olympic Games. It’s a fun walk down memory lane (I love that Barcelona logo. at left), but also a useful and very readable introduction to theories of commercial art.

Imagine how surprised your company’s designers will be when you use phrases like “wins the gold for minimalism,” “embraces the precepts of op art,” and “a Matisse-like quality.”

Allison also offers this useful observation about corporate logos: “A good logo not only stands apart from that crowd; it also effectively represents, in graphic form, the essential elements of a brand. It’s the brand’s flag, capturing all the feelings and experiences that a company or organization bundles together to form its persona.”

Read the full story here.
Then marvel at the excesses of the logo for the 2012 London games:

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