Brand Thinking

The Three Ages of Olympic Logos

First published in a slightly modified form in Business Standard, 13 August, in Deep Design, a fortnightly column by Itu Chaudhuri.

Everyone loves a new, public logo. It’s a polarising icon, and comments are free. So it is with Olympic logos. Deep Design seeks not to praise or bury them, but to discover the meaning interred into their bones.

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We, the Undersigned


“The trouble with you creative fellows,” said VSOP (Very Superior Old Person), “is that you think brand only means advertising, or synthesising emotions to sell your widgets.”

I’d sought advice on Brand India for an article, and sat across chutney sandwiches and coffee in the understated lounge of the lushly landscaped International Information Centre. I protested that no, I didn’t think so, and wasn’t in advertising. But VSOP, a retired bureaucrat of Great Standing, and known to be “an acquired taste”, was in spate. Keep Reading

Making Sense of Election Symbols

By themselves, symbols mean nothing. It takes prior knowledge to associate, purely by convention, a white-tipped cane with its blind owner. More connotative symbols acquire meaning by social processes. In an English storybook, a cock may announce the break of day, while its Indian cousin, the murga, may identify a certain type of tandoori joint. Each of these uses a code, a script that tells us what the once-arbitrary symbol means in a particular context.

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