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Why Logos Work & How - The Long Lasting Swoosh


I’m so passionate about flat design with meaning and incredible purpose. As much as logo designers love to articulate the reasoning behind a mark, (myself included) why it’s perfect in symmetry, the story it conveys - a lot of the time, it’s quite inexplicable why a logo actually works so harmoniously with the brands personality. We can always say “well, the math used in the building process was perfect” or “I followed the correct process and developed a mark that coincides with the brand values” etc. I am a Logo Designer - it’s what I pride myself in and it is without a doubt my main pursuit in my work life - but here’s a truth you don’t hear very often.

Take for example, the now world wide giant that is Nike Inc - you can show an elephant in Africa a pair of Jordan’s and he would recognise them. They’ve been a part of countless campaigns in a wide range of media, sport and entertainment. The Nike swoosh was created in 1971 by design student Carolyn Davidson and in her efforts to convey movement with the mark - it’s safe to say she hit pay dirt. We can all agree that her efforts have sparked a revolution in style and culture but why does it work so well???

Truthfully, it works well because Nike Inc was incredibly smart with their ad campaigns, how they represented themselves as a brand and most importantly, the coolest people at the time were wearing Nike's. The swoosh is instantly recognised because for decades, countless hours of work and brilliant campaigns made that swoosh what it is. A brand that took time in their development so well that they shifted everyone's attention to them and starting a cultural revolution - its just so massive and I respect them so much for it.

So does this mean that Carolyn Davidson’s work on the swoosh and Nike’s success ins’t her doing? If you’re a fashion designer and you have a show on, is it your fault if the model trips on the run way or wears the item in the way it wasn’t intended? If you take a look at any hashtag on Instagram that is #logodesign - you’ll find some of the most beautiful design work on the planet. Logo designers who put time and effort into creating a mark that's clever, conveys meaning, has weight and depth. Fact of the matter is, if you create a Nike swoosh and they don’t use it right, you’re not going to get a cultural revolution - you’re gonna get a very symmetrical swoosh.

So the moral of the story is, as business owners you shouldn’t expect a logo to convey a whole generations sense of style and rather, let your designer create you something unique, that ACTUALLY represents your brand values and what you wish to convey. Don’t always follow trends and expect to be a top competitor and instead, embrace something different, something you haven’t seen before (like the Nike swoosh) and really be passionate about what you do because when you are - your logo no matter what it is, will become instantly recognisable by your target audience.

Words: John Bresciani