10 most notable logos of 2009

The turn of the year is usually a time for reflection. We see “best of the year” this, “the year’s top” that, so to add a little slice of my own, here follows what I consider the 10 most notable logos of 2009.

Five of my least favourite

#5 Packard Bell / packardbell.com / on Brand New
Packard Bell logo design

“Why would any brand want to own PB? Including and especially Packard Bell. PB doesn’t bear Packard Bell. Packard Bell bears Packard Bell. There doesn’t appear to be any inherent value in owning PB. PB as a symbol is as superficial and redundant as the gloss effect throughout the new branding.”
Andrew Sabatier

#4 EURO 2012 / uefa.com / on Logo Design Love
Designed by Brandia Central
EURO 2012 logo design

“The famous Oscar Wilde quote comes to mind “All Art is Quite Useless. So is a Flower.”
Raja Sandhu

#3 Kraft Foods / kraftfoods.com / on Brand New
Kraft Foods logo design

“It doesn’t help at all that the new logo is no better at all than the old one, it’s simply rearranging the deck chairs on this logo Titanic.”
Armin Vit

#2 Burnley / burnley.co.uk / on Brand New
Burnley logo design

“It looks like an exploded slinky which has no relevance whatsoever to it’s location.”
Nathan McKinney

#1 American Life Network / americanlifetv.com / on Brand New
American Life Network logo design

“Which logo design contest web site did they outsource this project to?”
Darrel Austin

Five of my favourite

#5 New York Philharmonic / nyphil.org / on Logo Design Love
Designed by Pentagram
New York Philharmonic logo

“It’s memorable, different, out-of-the-box, and although a dramatic departure from Scher’s other Lincoln Center identities, it manages to fit right in.”
Mark Barilla

#4 City of Melbourne / melbourne.vic.gov.au / on Brand New
Designed by Landor Sydney
City of Melbourne logo design

“An amazing logo that will be relevant for years to come.”
Tom Ledwidge

#3 Pfizer / pfizer.com / on Brand New
Designed by Siegel+Gale
Pfizer logo design

“The logo is refreshed without being unrecognisable from it’s well known predecessor. The identity system is very nice, and positions Pfizer, visually and tonally, as an innovative leader.”
Clinton Duncan

#2 9/11 Memorial / national911memorial.org / on Andrew Sabatier
Designed by Landor New York
9/11 Memorial logo design

“Powerful and solid. The color choice reinforces the strong design and feeling of remembrance.”
Lauren Boebinger

#1 Avid / avid.com / on Brand New
Designed by The Brand Union
Avid logo design

“Very appropriate use of symbols as type. Without even reading the synopsis I could identify the industry.”
Chris Austin

Special thanks to Armin Vit for his identity design features.

66 responses

  1. It’s very very rare to see a simple logo design, that also has a triple meaning, which I think is why the 9/11 design has so much depth.

    Good picks, and a happy new year David!

  2. Packard Bell is still open?

    I was blown away by the amount of money spent on Melbourne’s new logo and assume that it’s truly going to be worth it to them for years to come.

  3. I have to say, I agree with very few…

    Euro 2012, after reading a bit more about the motivation behind it, it is a good cultural representation of the two countries involved. I won’t say it’s perfect though, but definitely not one of the 5 worst of 2009.

    Krafts Foods, given, it’s not a unique logo by any means, but from what I’ve read about it, it’s not a logo to be used on consumer products. This somewhat justifies its lack of flair but abundance of subtlety.

    New York Philharmonic. I truly, with my best intentions, don’t see anything good about this logo. Maybe I’m missing something.

    Avid. I still have not even the slightest clue what this company could be doing. Traffic signs? Digital media players? Bikini waxing?

    I do agree with some though. The Packard Bell logo is truly useless in every way. ALN is simply horrible, could make nr1 on the worst logos. 9 / 11 logo is good. The Melbourne city logo is great, as is it’s whole branding approach (worth having a look).

  4. I thought the AVID one was very appropriate and the 9/11 one worked well. Burnley was interesting, not sure that it reads well, but interesting none the less.

  5. Im with you on the Burnley logo. It looks like someone threw rubber bands onto a scanner and then live traced it. And it was a shock to learn Packard Bell still existed.

    The Avid logo is very creative but I am not sure about the City of Melbourne’s M.

  6. For colour and coolness, the AVID rocks, although still unsure if it’s readable as ‘AVID’ if you are not familar with AVID. But way cool and clean.

    Always liked the City of Melbourne, very striking and clean. Flexible too. Right from the first time I saw it, this logo made a strong impact on me, especially seeing it in context of other branding and marketing situations, like the flags etc. Very good.

    Typographically, the 9/11 Memorial is the outright winner. Simple, striking and thought provoking. This is when you are presented with the ultimate combination of suitable letters and meaning. 9/10 or 9/12 anyone?

    Burnely just looks awful to me. A putrefied mess. It’s only saving grace is that it’s so awful, you just have to look at it and wonder, why?

    Packard Bell just looks like jello warped in 3D, way to shiny and bubbly for a big corporate brand. I usually like this style of font, but again, doesn’t work in the context of Packard Bell.

    New York Philharmonic has been a fav of mine since I first saw it in the Pentagram Marks book, where it looks classically cool in solid black. It just works and instills just the right sense of association, at least to me.

    Interesting collection. :)

  7. Because Packard Bell doesn’t stand for any one thing, their identity couldn’t lock into any meaningful visual mark.

    ‘PB’ is an excuse for lack of anything better to use. Unmemorable and everything that branding shouldn’t be. But, after all – branding is about representing the company essence. If you don’t stand for something specific enough, it will be mighty hard to represent that in a logo.

    I feel sorry for them.

    (To be fair, I checked out their website to see if they had anything to do with more than computers – and I was right. They have a hand in everything. http://www.packardbell.com/company/)

  8. Melbourne’s should be on the WORST list.

    It has superficial appeal as eye candy but fades quickly and is incapable of any real work. It is to a brand what bubblegum is to food. Also, the typography is laughable – and it wasn’t even designed in Melbourne (though Melbourne is home to plenty of design talent and even in this branding exercise is positioning itself as a creative hub. Fail!)

    Packard Bell. Oh boy…

  9. Still don’t understand the fascination of the NYPhilharmonic Logo. Usually I love Pentagrams work but this logo (excuse my harshness) looks like my first attempt at learning Adobe Illustrator and found out I could wrap text on a circle and do fake italics. Sorry.

  10. I cant believe Melbourne is one of your favorites. I completely understand this is a subjective and highly personal opinion, I cant however see Melbourne Logo and Burnley Logo in the same league.

    As a matter of fact, the same writeup can be used interchangeably.

    Thoughts ?


  11. “and it wasn’t even designed in Melbourne” … What’s the problem? International branding agencies should stop working because they are not “local”? What about freelancers with international clients?

  12. I’m torn on the Melbourne logo. I think I like it but at the same time it just doesn’t seem right. Too many colors, but then again Melbourne was such a colorful & beautiful city.

  13. The best way to get comments on a blog is to post something people will disagree with. Brilliant!

    Love Pentagram, but the NY Phil looks like it was designed by an intern. (no disrespect to what I’m sure is a fine intern dept)

    IMO, the Melbourne logo is no more/less conceptual than the Burnley logo.

    The 9/11 is conceptually nice, but it doesn’t feel finished. It needs some squiggly lines or perhaps a gloss finish. ;-)

  14. I’m still not seeing the bigger picture for the 9/11 logo, am I missing something? Even if those top five are the worst logos in your opinion, they were still executed with great skill,(meaning they knew how to use the software)… all except the American Life Network logo:)

  15. Hi everyone, great of you to comment, and first-off, I hope you all have an amazing turn of the year. I don’t get very wrapped up in the celebrations these days, so will probably have a quiet one with family before Tuesday’s house move across the Irish sea.

    I had a fair idea the New York Philharmonic logo would be the most contentious of my “likes.” For me, it contains a level of dynamism and energy you would expect from a world renowned orchestra.

    When looking closely, I see the conductor’s baton splitting through the jagged edges of the italicized name, giving a sense of control and balance. It’s appropriate and memorable, and although many think otherwise, I believe Paula Scher and her team did a great job.

    If I was tweaking the logo I’d pay particular attention to the kerning of the word “new,” as there’s something that doesn’t sit quite right, but that’s beside my fondness of the mark.

    Some of you also question my inclusion of the Melbourne logo. In this case it’s not only for the symbol, but for the entire visual identity system, which you can see more of here on the Level Eleven blog. An incredible amount of work went into this one, and it shows.

    The five least favourite are by no means the absolute worst logos I’ve seen all year, and perhaps a better way to label them is as the most disappointing — taking into consideration the size / scope / audiences of the projects.

    As for the Melbourne identity not being designed in Melbourne, I agree with Alessandro. If every project undertaken by a designer was confined to local clients, perhaps I’d already be out of business.

    Thanks again, folks.

  16. Hey David,

    I loved your logos of 2009 in term of clean, simple and conceptual. Its work in your logo design portfolio too as it looks fantastic to me. I loved most “City of Melbourne & 9/11 logo” especially too.

  17. The Pfizer refinement is as good as they come, Mike. The only suggestion I’d make would be to have the space between the top-left of the ‘P’ and the logo border emulating the space between the top-right of the ‘r’ and the border.

    So in effect, I’d shift the reversed ‘Pfizer’ type very slightly to the right.

  18. Yea good call, now you’ve said that, it stands out that there isn’t much much room on the left next to the top of the P. Still looks good though.

  19. Nice article but I can’t see why the avid logo is the top design in your list. I always thought a good logo should be easy to read and having not seen this company before, I didn’t ‘get it’ straight away.

  20. Now that makes more sense. When I first read this article, I totally missed the heading that said “Five of my least favourite”. I thought, why do like the new Packard Bell logo—and especially the American Life Network one? Now I’ve got my eyes screwed in, it make more sense, hehe!

    Great post, as always David.

  21. The AVID logo looks too much like VIVA tv. Same idea, similar colour. There’s not enough difference at first glance.
    Only when you compare the two side by side, the difference is visible

  22. I think your choices of the Burnley and Melbourne logos strikes a good comparison of how similar ideas might go in different directions. They both have quite complex and abstract elements. The Melbourne logo designers have managed to refine the idea into something that works, the Burnley one is a mess.

    Haven’t seen the Euro 2012 logo before, oh dear, that’s all I can say.

    The 9/11 logo is more up my street, using simplicity to give it strength and a power that the others lack. This is probably down to what it represents, which I guess shows how successful it is.

  23. I can’t get excited by any of these. What’s so special about the 9/11 one?

    Anyway, lets hope 2010 is a good year.

    Have a good one David.

    All the best


  24. I like the Burnley graphic, actually, only the type looks like an afterthought – and a poor one at that. It’s like the design agency had dreamt up the graphic and was waiting for a client to use it on.

    I’m not so fond of the NY Philarmonic and the Melbourne logo makes my eyes go funny… The American Life Network logo looks like it was designed in 1979, not 2009.

    I really like the 9/11 logo, though – very simple, bold and fitting and I totally agree with you on the Pfizer logo.

  25. I have to agree with Jeff and Richard, the NY Philharmonic logo seems cheap and lowers the quality. It does not seem to have the aura of a renowned philharmonic group. If I was part of their orchestral group, I’d be pissed.

  26. 911 & Avid the most beautiful stuffs. All logos are good but those 2 are the best to my knowledge. Thanks for sharing them.

  27. I really enjoy the city of Melbourne logo. I think I appreciate it so much because it is a logo so outside something I would think to design, but it still works so well.

  28. I read an article about the Melbourne logo. This one piece of art was very expensive. :D
    I totally dislike the new kraft foods logo…

  29. I disagree with a lot of your choices but I’m thinking it’s because my design eye isn’t as developed yet.

    1) What’s so special about the NY Philharmonic logo? It seems like the type of logo that I would find on some inexperienced 14 year old kid’s graphic services website.

    2) As for the Melbourne logo, I thought it was ugly the first time I saw it months ago on some design site but it might be growing on me now.

    3) Pfiser – Nothing special. Don’t think it was worth a mention.

    4) 9/11 isn’t so bad. I like the 11 symbolizing the towers.

    5) AVID’s logo is the most creative I suppose. They were lucky to have the letters A V I D to play with. One thing that bugs me is the D at the very end. It seems to make the logo unbalanced in my eye. I feel like the logo is going to tip over any second to the right.


  30. The most creative in my opinion is the 9/11 logo.
    I don’t understand the big thing in Avid logo, it looks like the knockoff of the Viva logo (http://www.viva.tv/). As someone said before, at first I thought it was the Viva logo with facelift. If you would live in Europe it would hit you the same. I don’t know which one is older, but Viva has this logo forever (18+ years).

  31. Whilst ‘nice’ , suitably understated and effective as a logo, the 9/11 one isn’t especially ‘creative’ or ‘clever’ in my opinion. It was kinda handed to the designer on a plate…

  32. My first understanding of the New York Philharmonic logo was that the “New York” represented the musicians on stage in a curved arrangement as per usual….the diagonal line representing the stage which seperated the musicians from the audience…. and the “Philharmonic” representing the audience seated angled towards the stage appropriately. No? or am I in my own little world here? :)

    All the best in bonnie scotland lad!


  33. Although not wanting to increase traffic on the views of the New York Philharmonic logo, I just want to follow up by saying that I’m not too fond of it. Any logo that you need to turn around to read is just too annoying to be likeable in my opinion…. but what is my opinion worth anyway! :-)

  34. Is it just a coincidence that the 9/11 attacks were made on a date which is also the dialing code for an emergency in the United States?

  35. I was born and raised in Sydney, so it pains me to say this, but I love the Melbourne logo. I think the folks that don’t like it are (rightfully) viewing it only in the context as it is presented here on a logo blog. I think you could really play with the geometric shapes to provide a myriad of variants to match a whole lot of different uses while still remaining instantly recognisable.

    Well done to Landor.

  36. #5- New York Philharmonic is not one of the top 10 logos.

    The hard and solid fonts in all caps plus, more importantly, the colors of black/grey/red are very somber and do not capture the emotions, be them happy or sad, do not capture the uplifting elements of the talent at NYP and do not relay the overall joy NYP brings to us.

    #2 – 9/11 Memorial is not really a logo because it is just typography. Logos require creativity and inventiveness, and this one is just using an already made font and all that was added was the number eleven in blue. Why blue? Blue is not significant enough. The color will get lost if it is printed in greyscale.

    The black/white and greyscale test is what separates really strong logos with weak logos. A lot of the ones you picked will not pass the b/w test. The 9/11 in b/w test will just be “9/” and the elven will be missing.

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