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Origins of Our Logo (and Why Symbols Matter in Branding)

On the face of it, the Be Smart Design logo is simple; it’s a circle with the word ‘BE’ in it.

There’s much more to it than that, though. What’s more, you’ll discover that circles are much more than shapes if you delve into the history books and study the ancient art of signs and symbols.

We know this, because we’ve got a tonne of books on the subject. It’s why we know that the humble circle which adorns our logo is also the symbol of the sun. And that really means something for our brand.

It suggests creativity and creation; two things in which the Be Smart team invests its time. That little circle means an awful lot to us, and our customers (even if they don’t know it!).

Puts a whole different spin on logo design, don’t you think?


Why signs and symbols are so important in logo design

Did you know there’s an arrow in the FedEx logo? Take a look and see if you can spot it:

Still scratching your head? It’s right there in between the adjoining letters ‘E’ and ‘x’.

Ah – there it is!

As symbols go, arrows are about as pointed (if you’ll excuse the pun) as they come, but this subliminal messaging inside the famous courier’s logo is an example of brilliant design. The clever use of the negative space between the last two letters has won the logo several awards and makes it one of the most effective ever created.


It also illustrates, literally, why symbols are so important in logo design. They aid visual communication.

If we go back to our logo, the presence of the circle isn’t an explicit message to our audience – it simply resonates with the historic meaning of that symbol.

The Be Smart logo is actually known as the ‘circumpunct’, which is nothing more than a circled dot. It’s an ancient symbol which, beyond the aforementioned sun reference, can also be used to represent the solar system.


Organising order from chaos

Every business can feel a little bit chaotic at times – particularly when you’re in the midst of it behind-the-scenes.

This is why symbols are so important for business owners and customers. They help organise order from chaos and, in business, do so by falling into one (or several) of these categories:

  • to identify;
  • to create value; or
  • to describe.

The trick lies in using a symbol creatively to make it aesthetically pleasing. That way, the message is more likely to be transferred to the audience and resonate with them as intended.

It’s also fair to suggest that the most successful symbols in branding are those that pull together different meanings.

Take Unilever’s logo, for instance, whose ‘U’ contains icons representing every aspect of sustainable living. You need to look closely to see them, but that’s the point; they’re subliminal.


The history of branding (but not as we know it)

These days, the term ‘branding’ is linked almost exclusively to the process of creating a public perception of a business, person, or product.

As you might expect, this wasn’t how it started.

In ancient times, ‘branding’ literally referred to creating a brand mark on either property or animals. The latter were branded (ouch) with a single initial letter to identify the farmer to whom they belonged.

If we move forward along the timeline a little, we reach the 1600s, which is the time during which symbols were starting to be used to create meaning in social standings and business.

This is the earliest example of symbols being used as logos, and the process itself has barely changed since then. Because it works!

One last point on the symbol we chose for our logo. It represents the point at which creation begins, and that’s so apt for what we do.

But what about your logo? Does it represent your business? Do you have a strong brand? If you need help linking your purpose to a symbol – just get in touch!

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