Y2-Many Ellipses?
An investigation of the elliptical logo epidemic.

Circles, Circles, Everywhere Circles
As the end of the millennium spirals to a close, there emerges a new trend in logo design; the elliptical logo element. Although clean-looking and curvaceous, the ellipse isn't necessarily the best look for just any company. Try telling that to the hundreds of companies with meaningless ellipses stoically embedded into their corporate icons. We'll explore the reasons why this elliptical explosion can be a bad thing, but first let's investigate the motives for it's recent baby-boomer-esque overpopulation:

Theory #1 - The Cosmic Odometer Flip
Could this logo design trend spawn from the cyclic renewal offered by the millenniums' close, a graphic representation of the great cosmic odometer flip? A chance to reassure techno-ludites and Y2K-phobics alike that the company will be the same trusted institution it has always been, January 1, 2000 and beyond? Don't bother. Unless your company is in the financial industry or manufactures bomb shelters, chances are you're not on the forefront of the average persons' Y2K concerns, so you're thinking too hard about it. Besides, it will all be over on Jan. 1st...one way or another. Oh, relax.

Theory #2 - Technological Wheel of Samsara
With so many companies replacing obsolete business practices and manufacturing capabilities with new technologies such as internet commerce, computer-operated production and the like, the elliptical logo element could be serving as a technological Wheel of Samsara, the Hindu cycle of death and rebirth. After all, replacing old technology with new (assuming, of course, it really works) is just good business, so what better subliminal message could a business relate to it's customers than that of technological advancement and improvement? A little too subliminal you think? Me too. I hope these infringers reincarnate as an Abacus manufacturing plant.

Theory #3 - Goober Just Went Global
Thanks to the internet, small companies with a regional client base are going multinational at blazing speeds. This kind of transition used to take even the most successful and efficient corporations years, even decades to achieve. Ultimately, it comes down to providing (and maintaining) a high level of service, and it's my opinion that many companies have failed miserably. So with this in mind, I propose that the elliptical logo element could also be a way to position the company as orbital ring, circling the planet with it's global web presence.

Perhaps this is all a corporate pissing match, a rush to promote the news that 'hey, we've gone global, we're ready to service the world whether we're big enough, ready, or not.'

OK, Where's the Harm?
In any case, the problem with this widespread epidemic of elliptical logos whose number far surpasses that of ebola, ecoli and bad fashion sense combined is that a company who fails to create a logo graphically imbued with their corporate identity will loose out on what may be their only chance to make a first impression. In addition, these virtually meaningless logos take away from the impact of companies who do have elliptical logo elements that relate to their product or service.

Even companies who have racked up generations of image mind-share with their time-tested classic logos have succumbed to the incorporation of the circular swish. One can only hope this trend goes the way of New Coke, Pepsi Clear and Zima.

In short, if your company is Smith Tire Co., Jones Hula Hoop Mfg. or Pokemon Pogs, Inc., you have my blessing to use an elliptical logo. If however, you're business bears no direct or implied likeness to anything remotely non-linear, please, for the rest of us, give it some more thought before you jump on this bandwagon(wheel).

Eric S. Barao
ESB Productions


Some Meaningful Uses of Elliptical Logo Elements


All website material copyright 1999 ESB Productions.