This Major Athletics Brand Needs a Redesign

lululemon logo

Can you think of any major brands that use a logo that was actually designed for a brand name other than their own? This is the case for popular women’s workout clothing retailer Lululemon Athletica. According to their website, “The lululemon name was chosen in a survey of 100 people from a list of 20 brand names and 20 logos. The logo is actually a stylized ‘A’ that was made for the first letter in the name ‘athletically hip’, a name which failed to make the grade.”

So the Lululemon logo is a stylized ‘A.’ When I noticed a friend carrying a Lululemon bag, I asked her what she thought the logo meant (after all, the consumer’s impression is a brand’s most important quality). She said it’s an ‘A’ for the Athletica in Lululemon Athletica, and it also represents a woman’s hair and face outline – the brand’s core demographic is young women. The brand describes their demographic thusly:

Our primary target customer is a sophisticated and educated woman who understands the importance of an active, healthy lifestyle. She is increasingly tasked with the dual responsibilities of career and family and is constantly challenged to balance her work, life and health. We believe she pursues exercise to achieve physical fitness and inner peace.”

The brand deserves a visual identity that reflects that consumer.

greek omega symbol

When I asked my girlfriend what the Lululemon logo was, she said, “I think it’s something to do with math.” That association comes from the Lululemon logo’s resemblance to the Greek letter Omega (pictured). The company’s bizarre logo just feels cryptic and quizzical: it makes the audience wonder, am I missing something here? 

After having recently written about the symbols of Scientology – which incorporate the Greek alphabet for dubious purposes – I don’t think an odd association like the Omega symbol does any favors for an athletics brand that has been accused of cult-like behavior. The Omega has nothing to do with Lululemon, of course – that’s the point. It just goes to show how muddled and confused the Lululemon logo is. It’s a big bowl of WTF.

The bottom line: this logo doesn’t bear much relation to Lululemon. The ‘A’ doesn’t represent their primary name, the ‘woman’s hair’ interpretation is a bit of a stretch, and the logo doesn’t communicate anything about athletics. In short, it feels like it was designed for a different name, because it was.

Lululemon has recently survived public fiascos (the sheer pants recall) and the feuds of embattled CEOs. It’s 2015, they have a new CEO (Laurent Potdevin), and their stock is thriving. They deserve a refreshing new brand identity to reflect their new beginnings – one that truly represents their customer for the first time.

Laurent Potdevin, if you’re reading this, get in touch! I would love to redesign your brand. Just think of the headline potential – CEO hires brand designer from a blog post. Side note: I will do away with the lowercase ‘lululemon’ spelling – it’s a cutesy brand affectation that makes the word seem too meek to perform even a downward dog pose.

How to Acquire Images for Blog Posts

Photographer Taking a Photo

Photo by Eve Dias

Starting a blog is easy like Sunday morning. It only takes three seconds to start a WordPress or Blogger account, and you’re off and running. However, few bloggers have the basic tools to use images and photography well. Images (be they photos or illustrations) bring your posts to life. They can make your site look professional by illustrating the themes and subjects of your posts. However, it’s important to know which photos you’re allowed to use due to copyright law. Here are the four easiest ways to acquire images properly and make your site look awesome:

  1. Take a photo yourself. Taking your own photograph adds an extra layer of creative awesomeness to your post: you’ve done it all yourself, from writing the post to illustrating it with a beautiful photo. We live in an era where most people have a high-quality camera in their pocket, so photography is easier than ever. But when you need a photo of a foreign landmark or an obscure subject – and you need it quick – you’ll need other options.
  2. Search a free resource like Compfight. This is my favorite image tool, and it’s how I acquired the image for this post. Compfight is a repository of images from Flickr and other sources. Search for your subject, choose a photo, and check its license for attribution/rights. In most cases, you’ll be asked to attribute the image to its author, as I have in the photo above. You get an image, the photographer gets credit and exposure, and everyone wins.
  3. Purchase photos on a stock photo site like Shutterstock. If you can’t find what you need on Compfight, you may find it here. It’s a worthwhile investment to allot yourself a small budget for professional-quality photos. If you need photos of celebrities or public figures, try Getty Images.
  4. Seek a public domain photo on Wikipedia. If you’re searching for a photo of, say, a historical person or a landmark, you might be able to find it for free on Wikipedia, which has many rights-free or public domain photos. Just make sure to check the photo’s rights/license for information before you go using it yourself.

The Symbols of Scientology: A Design Analysis

I’ve been reading the riveting book Going Clear in advance of the HBO documentary of the same title. Going Clear is a relentlessly damning account of Scientology’s founder and principles. I love to study symbolism and branding, and while I was reading, I wondered, “Does Scientology have a logo?” I hadn’t recalled ever seeing one. Since they identify as something of a hybrid religion and scientific institution, I wasn’t sure whether to expect a religious symbol or a corporate logo from the organization. Upon further investigation, I discovered that Scientology has more symbols than Steven Tyler’s got scarves. Here is a design and symbolism critique of what I found during my research.

Scientology Symbol

Scientology LogoThis symbol is an ‘S’ (for Scientology, of course) that interlocks with two triangles. According to Scientology, the upper triangle is the KRC triangle, representing knowledge, responsibility, and control. The lower triangle is the ‘ARC’ triangle, representing affinity, reality, and communication. Sounds like a bunch of arbitrary nouns that you might choose if you were inventing a religion and trying to imbue a symbol with knowledge-y gravitas, right? The church’s website explains ‘affinity’ thusly: “Without a degree of liking and some basis of agreement, there is no communication.” On the contrary, I think it’s of the utmost importance to communicate with someone even if you don’t like them – perhaps especially if you don’t like them. But let me stick to design.

I have to admit that this symbol is visually attractive – it looks like what Superman would wear on his chest if he were in ancient Greece (the triangle is the Greek letter Delta). The symmetry is pleasing and the metallic shimmer might hypnotize someone who is easily spellbound by shiny objects. It’s hard to overlook the Registered Trademark icon there – the ever-present reminder that what you are looking at is a legally protected corporate logo and not an ancient symbol of a shared heritage. [Read more…]

Transcending Language with Branding

Target Pepsi Apple LogosOne of the qualities of a truly iconic brand is the transcendence of language: the above three logos are immediately recognizable without an accompanying wordmark (these are the logos for Target, Pepsi, and Apple). When done successfully, brand icons of this caliber can be understood around the world to speakers of any language. This advanced level of familiarity in the minds of consumers means that your brand’s symbols have truly penetrated the marketplace, and therefore represents the pinnacle of branding. So how did these brands get there? [Read more…]