So, It's Just An Apple?

By Adam Gordon No Comments

Logos are created to visually communicate the brand of a company, product, or service. In the blink of an eye, with or without prior interactions, the receiver should gain a basic understanding of the core values of the brand.

It is the designer's responsibility to learn about these core values and visualize them. Many tools are used to do this including analogy (reference to an existing experience), semiotics (the science of symbols), visual culture (local associations), and rhetoric (metaphors, etc.). When a logo is minimalist and the subject has a wealth of cultural ties to it, the symbol can unintentionally welcome a variety of interpretations. It is in the branding of the logo that these references can be tamed.

After reading through an interview Creative Bits conducted with Rob Janoff, the designer of the Apple logo, I was amused and even surprised by the amount of interpretations the public had shared. Here are a few:

- The bite in the apple is referencing the computing term' byte'.

- The apple is referencing the biblical event when Eve bit into the forbidden fruit, signifying knowledge and lust.

- The fruit itself is referencing the discovery of gravity by Newton when an apple fell on his head while sitting under a tree.

- The colors of the rainbow (ROYGBIV) are in the wrong order, suggesting hope and anarchy.

- The colored logo is homage to Turing, the famous supposed father of computer science, who committed suicide in the early 50's while facing a jail sentence because he was a homosexual.

- Turing also apparently killed himself with a cyanide-laced apple. His favorite childhood story was also Snow White where she falls asleep forever for eating a poisoned apple to be woken up by the handsome prince.

So, did anyone get it right? In Rob's words "they are all BS". His reasoning for the design focused on readability, simplicity, and intrigue. The only creative briefing he was given by Steve Jobs was "don't make it cute".

At first, he prepared two versions—one with the bite and one without—fearing the bite may look too "cute". The bite was added simply for scale. Rob's concern was that people might confuse the shape with that of a cherry, so adding the bite mark provided context. He also felt people across all cultures could relate to it through their own physical experiences of biting into an apple. It was iconic.

Now, how about those colors? Rob confessed that the purpose of the stripes was to reinforce what differentiated the Apple from other personal computers at that time. The Apple II was the first personal computer that could reproduce images on the monitor in color, so the color bars in the logo are actually representing the color bars seen on the Apple II's screen.

So, the Apple logo we see today may just be an apple that someone has taken a bite out of, but over the years it has become a very symmetrical, scalable, polished, well designed and functional apple. Sound familiar?

To read the whole interview, visit http://creativebits.org/interview/interview_rob_janoff_designer_apple_logo.

Author Adam Gordon
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