“While you were kicking back with a burger and a day off... Google was making some serious changes to its logo. If you’re a typography or design nerd, you probably can [see the difference]. The rest of us, however, need an explanation. The change made was a tiny shift in kerning -- or, the space between two letters -- of the ‘g’ and ‘l,’ moving the ‘g’ one pixel to the right and the ‘l’ one pixel down and to the right. The subtle difference supposedly makes the overall logo more pleasant on the eyes and easier to read.” – The Huffington Post, May 28, 2014
As the Bible says: You’re either moving forward or you’re moving backward. This is as true in business as it is in life. Recently, our company has unfortunately been moving backward in the corporate identity department, by which I mean we’ve been using the same logo we paid several million dollars to have designed for us back in 2012. Now it’s time to start moving forward again, so we will soon be unveiling a brand new logo. The differences are subtle, but we are confident that they will be more than effective. I’d like to take you through the changes now, to be sure that none of them are overlooked.
Think about the best corporate logos you’ve seen, and specifically what makes them so persuasive: It’s the subliminal messages, obviously. The arrow famously in FedEx... the “31” in Baskin Robbins’ “BR”... the so-called “Jesus fish” in “Jack in the Box”... and others. Subtle hints seem to work wonders on an unsuspecting, consuming public, so the expensive graphic re-designer we retained took great pains to cram as many hidden messages into our new logo as possible.
The first two shouldn’t be surprising: Each instance of a capital “S” in the company name is a dollar sign ($), and each lowercase “c” is the cents symbol (¢)—because our company’s business is making money, of course, and even small amounts of money count. But did you also notice that the kerning of the “TM” is tight, suggesting that the name of our venture is a common law trademark? (If and when the registration eventually goes through, we’re going to put that last one back to normal and replace all Rs with ®s, naturally.) And the semicolon-and-lowercase-p combination in the middle of the typography is the “emotion icon” for a person winking and sticking his or her tongue out, to suggest both (1) that while we take our business very seriously, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and (2) we know what kids these days think is cool.
Now, you see the penguin working at a computer in the graphical element? Sure you see him, but do you see what’s on the computer screen? You probably can’t, so I’ll tell you: It’s a program, written in BASIC! (You remember! Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code!) It reads:
The idea there is that people should buy our product, and then do it again, and then again, over and over. Because that’s how that computer program would work! The lines of code are so small, though, that people won’t know we’re planting that particular seed in their minds. Okay, now look carefully at the penguin himself. Don’t look at the black parts, though; look at the white parts—the negative space, and specifically the negative space on the penguin’s stomach. Do you see a peace sign? Groovy, right? That tells people that we’re a company that loves everyone and believes in international harmony. At the same time, the handgun in the shoulder holster that the penguin is wearing is a suggestion that anyone who doesn’t do business will us is in danger of being murdered or at least roughed up some.
On the wall behind the penguin is a clock. Tell me what time it is. What’s that you say? The clock has no hands or numbers? Of course it doesn’t, because our company doesn’t employ any clock-watchers, and we’ll serve our clients’ needs all around the clock, day or night. That’s also why through the window next to the clock you can see both the sun and the moon in the sky. And you might notice as well a bullet hole in a lower pane of the window glass, implying that our adorable penguin mascot has recently traded shots with a rival company’s mascot or president or even an unhappy former customer who posted a negative review of our business “online.”
Not even the rug on the floor of the room in which the penguin is working is free of subliminal messages! Turn the logo upside down and you’ll be able to make out in the carpet fibers the outline of the United States. Ours is an all-American company, through and through, after all, and we’re not ashamed to make that clear, subtly. (If we ever have to import foreign-made components, we will sell them in the United States. If we ever have to outsource responsibilities to foreign workers, we will pay them with American cash.)
Finally—unless I’ve overlooked something myself, and that is possible, because our new logo is positively fraught with meaning!—the room that the penguin is in, working at his computer, day and night, around the clock, patriotic rug underfoot, has no ceiling. The room is open to the heavens above... and those heavens are—sun and moon notwithstanding—utterly and completely empty, because there is no God. If there ever was a God, He’s long gone now. He left mankind to its own devices... and that’s where our company comes in!
Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.