The aesthetic appeal of tool trademarks

All companies have trademarks, things they brand their tools with. Does their aesthetic appeal really matter? Consider the trademark and typeface used by the German tool manufacturer Ulmia:

From the perspective of colour, I’m not a big fan. Although yellow can imply innovation, and green implies natural, so innovative tools from a renewable source?  Part of the issue is that they are close together on the colour wheel (analogous colours). Check out this great post on the Power of Colors – colour truly does make a difference. They show a McDonalds logo in a green-yellow combination, and it’s not exactly appealing. These colours work for BP, and John Deere, but not for Ulmia. The problem? From afar, the thin line work on the trademark in the image above just blends into the background.

Now consider an older version of the trademark and typeface:

Firstly, I have to say that I like the typeface… something very art-deco about it. But the white letters on a red background make a statement of strength, and contrast nicely. The trademark is blue and white, which means it contrasts nicely as well. Why does any of this matter? Because even though it may seem like a superficial thing, a good trademark says a lot about how much a company cares about what they produce. Obviously change is inevitable – trademarks should change with changing times, unless what you make is classic. On a side note, this change in typefaces and trademarks does help identify a tool. For example, the frame saw from which the above label is from the period 1927-1952 (ref). I have to say, the choice of green is pleasant as well, and contrasts nicely with the red.

Ultimately there has to be some contrast between fine details and their background, as in the vintage trademark above. There is a certain attraction to a tool with a well designed trademark. Here is one I really like, mostly because of the colour contrasts, but also because they have turned the “L” into a plane. Circular trademarks also have the advantage of being able to fit on any shaped  tool.

The bigger question is why modern companies don’t put more effort into designing aesthetically pleasing trademarks… although some don’t even bother with a trademark at all (apart from their name).


2 thoughts on “The aesthetic appeal of tool trademarks

  1. Damien says:

    The certain attraction for black white and red when L.W. made that trademark in the thirties. Is it a nationalistic trademark?

    • spqr says:

      Hmmm… I guess that may be a possibility, although they continued to use the trademark after WW2. There aren’t that many international companies using a black and red logo… Mammut outdoor gear is one.

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