Life-Affirming Logos

A look at some moments of beauty and joy, in the strangest (and most corporate) of places.


Today I’d like to discuss a strange phenomenon in my brain. In my mind, certain images and music get grouped together based on a feeling I associate with them. I am not sure if anyone else does this, but it’s like a film montage in my head designed to make me think “You are happy” or “Halloween is coming,” or even “It’s a rainy day,” all based on memories of things I’ve heard/seen. A lot of it is mundane stuff like jingles or ads. I realize this sounds odd, and I’m not sure how many people experience it.

For example, if I see really bright florescent lighting in a college or office building, especially in the morning, and think about “Doctor Who”, I’ll feel a sense of unease. I would say this is based on a few bad memories I had of college, but I got this feeling even when college started, and I hadn’t been watching DW for very long.

Today I want to talk about a very different feeling, a joyful feeling. Joel and I were talking about how seeing certain ads or logos, mostly from when we were younger, that made us feel really calm, but also bright and happy, whenever we saw them. We can’t explain this phenomenon, but at least I know  I’m not alone in this.  I think people who also devote time to collecting old commercials or vanity plates also have a sense of what I’m talking about, and that stuff is HUGE online. Today, I have a selection of logos that have always stirred that particular sense of serene joy in me.  If you want the real “Being John Malkovich” version of this, with a soundtrack, there’s a Busch Gardens ad that also captures this feeling for me, mostly from the song. Take a listen while you look at my collage: Shot 2016-05-07 at 10.44.55 AM

Yes, to me, this means “Joy.” Not that I know why. Note: I’ve never been to Busch Gardens, and that ad came out before I was born. I’ve never even been to a Ponderosa, only saw those balloons ONCE at Applebees, and didn’t see Blue Bird until I was in college, so it’s not just nostalgia. But mad props to the Ponderosa logo, one that Joel also cited as being a favorite. (He’s never eaten there either. Such are the vagaries of life.)

I do have some nostalgic logos. Here they are:

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 10.55.51 AMWhat is it about these that appeals to me. ? The art style? The colors? The typeface? I liked watching “Ren and Stimpy” and “Lady Lovelylocks”, but I swear I loved those logos and the shapes of the letters almost as much as the cartoons. If I didn’t see the “Betty” vanity plate at the end of Disney’s “Adventures in Wonderland,” you better believe I felt cheated. I know I loved the weird packaging on YIKES pencils even more than the pencils, great as they were. I just can’t explain it. The best I can do is be glad that in a world where everyone’s constantly selling things, some people, not just me, looked at what was for sale and saw something beautiful and joyful.



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