Logo again.

home at alexhudson.com home at alexhudson.com
Wed Mar 21 10:25:32 UTC 2001

On Wed, Mar 21, 2001 at 12:59:24AM -0000, David Blane wrote:
> > Anyway, everything European will meet a lot of hostility in the UK. Guess
> > that's my point. Sorry for waffling on.
> From a Scottish point of view, I must disassociate myself and the 
> majority of my compatriots from this sentiment.

I think we're getting into politics too far here :-) I don't think any measurement of any small part of the UK population is going to yield any interesting results - for example, the Northern Irish are (mostly) fiercely British first and foremost, and (for the rest) fiercely anti-British. The UK is diverse.

Anyway, back on topic :) - I think I agree with most of the points expressed on this list, even those which are contradictory. I agree that the logo I think best represents FSFE is the GNU on a backdrop of 12 stars. The simple test, for me, is this: imagine we ask the web designers to create a 'poll page', where people can visit. It's kind of like 'am I hot or not', so let's call this 'am I FSFE or not?' :-). Each visitor gets one logo, and a text box, and are asked to guess who the logo represents (obviously, calling the poll 'am I FSFE or not' would not be a good idea, it's just a code name :). We would have a selection of all the logos posted here, and some other random ones too. I would bet a LOT of money that GNU + stars would lead to people to connect Free Software and Europe. I would further bet that most other logos would NOT lead people to connect Free Software and Europe. Within our community (ie., the IT community at large, rather than specifically the Free software / FSFE community) the logo that would get best recognition is GNU + stars. It's really as simple as that for me - despite any connotations people feel the logo possesses, GNU + stars will make people think FSF + Europe. I'm don't think any other logo will be as powerful.

HOWEVER, I also agree the GNU + stars makes a pretty poor logo. One thing that has always annoyed me about the FSF is the lack of corporate image - obviously, a lot of people see web pages are purely functional, and like the quick, cut-down FSF pages and their zero-graphic (almost) content. But, while good for people in the community, it doesn't do the FSF any favours to those outside. While we should take usability lessons from Jacob Nielson, I really don't think we have anything to learn from his design skills (controversial!!). I think I would agree, then, that we could use a better, more professional, more image-conscious logo, because FSFE at the end of the day is about two things: supporting Free software, and promoting it. Promotion is almost as important as support.

Is Gnu + stars incompatible with a good, professional image? I think so, although there is a compromise. It _is_ possible to change the logo later - in five, six, seven years' time. We can take GNU + stars now, and change later, when we're in a better position to do a good job, and when FSFE is in a strong enough position to hold it's own. The opportunity cost is that changing a logo is not necessarily desirable, and might cost money. 

I think it boils down to two points of view:

1. FSFE is not strong enough to hold it's own identity right now, and the GNU + stars combination will speak volumes about the organisation. GNU + stars is the best logo, at least for now.


2. FSFE needs a professional image, right from the get go, and we need to promote ourselves such that our new logo becomes as synonymous with FSFE as the GNU is with the FSF. We don't want to change later, let's get it right now.

I think I'm in the (1) camp, but I can see both sides - I personally _really_ liked the abstract GNU + Europa line drawing we had a while ago (the one which I thought had demonic eyes :)), and much, much prefer that to GNU + stars. I think it kind of boils down to whether or not we think the FSFE can be strong enough to be a new organisation and promote itself ruthlessly (!) enough so that it doesn't need the strength of the FSF brand. Perhaps this is the debate?



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