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Logo Design: When 'We' Becomes 'Me'

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It's an incredibly simple logo. And therein lies its power. It appears, at first, to be just one word: "we," but flip the letter "w" upside down, and it becomes "me." This clever we/me balance perfectly captures the "think globally/act locally" philosophy that's at the heart of the We Campaign.


WE.jpg
This three-year $300 million campaign is being rolled out by The Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort founded by Al Gore, whose core message is "we can solve the climate crisis."
Because of its simplicity, the campaign logo has great marketing potential. Imagine a "we" button – what better in an election year? – worn to signify alliance with this global cause. Or imagine two buttons, one worn as "we," the other as "me" – to serve as visible reminders that each of us, alone and together, can make a difference.
On second thought, a wasteful button artifact might not be the best way to signify support for the campaign. The alliance's site, wecansolveit.org, is encouraging supporters to display the round green We logo on their Facebook and MySpace pages, without any adverse environmental effect. This is where the skillful logo design will really pay off – and start building awareness.
The logo is already capturing attention. Writing in The New York Times Week In Review, Steven Heller analyzed the bright green globe, spoke with its creators – The Martin Agency and Brian Collins – and underscored the difficulty of designing a logo that is, at once, refreshingly simple and undeniably powerful:

"An effective logo is a kind of calculus, the sum of disparate parts that adds up to a memorable image or icon. In this case, the logo is something of a risk because it is neither the name nor initials of the organization but a visual pun on the words We and Me."

Everyone I've shown the logo to stares at it. It's the strange "w" that holds their attention. The only reason they know that "w" is an upside-down "m" is the vertical foot or starting stroke at the bottom left. Typography is all about nuance. Scrape that stroke off and the logo loses its power.
I'd like to see some simple digital animations that capture this playful, yet profound rotation between "we" and "me." Take this tagline: Join we today.
Imagine the "we" rotating to read: Join me today. It's simple, rich symbolism.
It will be interesting to track the We campaign in the coming months. The first We television ad is airing now, and you can view initial print ads on the site. According to the We campaign website, "this three-year effort will combine the best practices of successful commercial marketing and issue advocacy efforts."
With the logo in particular, I think the marketing is off to a strong start. And you?


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Hi, Iím Gwyneth Dwyer. Nice to meet you.

Iím Director of Writing Services for Larsen, a design, marketing, interactive, and branding firm with offices in Minneapolis and San Francisco. I have the very fun job of leading Larsenís award-winning writing group and overseeing millions of words written for Larsen clients. (Everything from product names, taglines, and campaign themes to Web content, marketing literature, ads, and articles.) On any given day Iím weighing in on the smallest grammatical detail ó and the biggest creative concept.

Iím also the editor of inSights, Larsenís popular e-newsletter. Iíve been published on MarketingProfs.com and in the Design Management Review.

Before joining Larsen in Minneapolis, I ran my own writing services agency in Boston, working with fantastic clients such as the Harvard Business School Publishing Division and Addison-Wesley publishing.

One of my core beliefs is that the most exciting, effective creative work results when writers and designers collaborate. At Larsen, Iím fortunate to work with talented writers who think visually ó and amazing designers who understand the power of words.

I invite you to read my posts and comment! Blogging is a conversation.

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Comments

  • by Levon Guiragossian Wed Apr 9, 2008 via blog

    When I first read your blog title .... I thought the piece was going to be on how brands emulate each other with the whole "me too" syndrome. What your piece was really about was the ability for people to mass brand themselves.

  • by Brick Marketing Wed Apr 9, 2008 via blog

    Nice article. Funny how one simplistic logo can make a big impression.

  • by Gwyneth Dwyer Wed Apr 9, 2008 via blog

    Levon, Yes, there's a definite mass brand appeal here, and the wonderful logo design will certainly help encourage that. By displaying the We logo, people can happily align themselves with the cause. Good people at Brick Marketing, Thanks for the compliment. While the logo is certainly simple – I, for one, wouldn't call it simplistic. Simple suggests easily understood, free of complications. Simplistic is elementary, silly, not well thought out. It's quite difficult to create something simple. It's much easier to over-design, over-elaborate, gunk up. The central goal of good design is to understand what to leave out. And this logo does just that

  • by Brian Thu Apr 10, 2008 via blog

    Glad you like the work, Gwyneth. Now, let's hope we can get as many people on board as quickly as possible! And your support helps more than you might imagine. Thank you.

  • by Gwyneth Dwyer Thu Apr 10, 2008 via blog

    Brian, Thanks for stopping by. Hats off to you for incredible work.

  • by Brian Tue Apr 15, 2008 via blog

    All the credit goes to the remarkable team at the Martin Agency ( listed in the New York Times story). And, of course, to a good client.

  • by Brian Tue Apr 15, 2008 via blog

    All the credit goes to the remarkable team at the Martin Agency ( listed in the New York Times story). And, of course, to a good client.

  • by Brian Tue Apr 15, 2008 via blog

    All the credit goes to the remarkable team at the Martin Agency ( listed in the New York Times story). And, of course, to a good client.

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