Yesterday, there was a big story about an apparent issue that Apple has taken over the apple-y logo of Australian supermarket Woolworth’s. The Huffington Post said “Apple Sues Woolworth’s” while Engadget said “it’s not a lawsuit… it’s just part of the process” of having your logo approved in Australia. Regardless of the legal nature of the dispute, I’d like to make a comment about the use of a certain piece of fruit in art and design.
Apple’s logo and brand are among the strongest and most powerful on the market, and part of the reason for this is the image of the apple itself. This humble fruit has been one of the most potent symbols in Western culture for many centuries. It calls to mind the forbidden fruit, the tree of knowledge, Adam & Eve, Snow White, The Big Apple, “an apple a day,” William Tell, “as American as apple pie,” and so on. For Apple to claim sole ownership of this ancient symbol is absurd. The meaning they derive from the apple emblem carries the collective weight of all its cultural forebears, so to attempt to prevent anyone else from doing the same in the future is not only hypocritical but a fool’s errand – this symbol will continue to endure and evolve. Of course, if a competing technology company (which Woolworth’s is not) were to market itself with a logo that greatly resembles Apple’s (Woolworth’s does not – it’s a far inferior logo with a different composition), then I might understand their efforts to stop it. Until then, Apple, let us all share that symbolic fruit, just like we always have. You’re going to have to endure the painful sight of many shitty logos – namely bad logos for educational organizations (the cliche of the apple as a gift from the teacher’s pet somehow still endures) – but you’re Apple, you’ll be cool.