As featured in the May 2012 issue of desktop magazine, over the next few weeks, we will be revealing our top 10 Australian logos of all time, as voted in by you and our panel of judges. Read more about the feature and our judging panel here.
All research and writing by Larissa Meikle and Estelle Pigot.
10th place was awarded to SBS.
9th place was awarded to Australia Post.
8th place was awarded to Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
7th place was awarded to Nine Network.
6th place was awarded to Woolmark.
5th place was awarded to Woolworths.
4th place was awarded to Commonwealth Bank.
3rd place was awarded to City of Melbourne.
2nd place: Qantas
The original Qantas trademark, which borrows hugely from the Australian one-penny piece, has been overhauled several times since its inception in 1944. Interestingly enough, no one has ever been credited for the first design. This original version displayed the kangaroo, the central element of the logo, which was illustrated below the cockpit of the company’s first Liberator aircraft.
Designed by legendary graphic designer Gert Sellheim, the renowned winged kangaroo symbol version was unveiled in January 1947 to celebrate the debut of the Lockheed L-749 Constellation aircraft and was depicted as carrying the globe with its feet. It was in fact the first Qantas aircraft to carry the flying kangaroo and the first to operate right through to London with Qantas crews.
Fast forward to 1968, and the flying kangaroo was placed in a circle and the globe was removed. This symbol was in turn replaced in 1984 with designer Tony Lunn’s modified version that saw a now more delicately stylised kangaroo lose its wings. Ken Cato, who designed the logo created for the airline’s 75th anniversary year in 1995, says he was less than impressed with the wingless kangaroo.
“I can’t see how the logo has improved [since Sellheim’s design], you could redraw it or restyle it, but the wings made it distinct and gave it a mystical, untouchable edge, which is still such a part of our history,” says Cato. “This was one of the most memorable trademarks you could make.”
Yet another interpretation of the iconic kangaroo symbol was unveiled in July 2007, this time designed to reflect the changing structure of the airline’s new generation aircraft A380 super jumbos. Unveiled by internationally revered designer Hans Hulsbosch, of Hulsbosch, the new version was sleeker and more contoured than previous versions. Lunn however, who controversially clipped the wings 20 years prior, rubbished the logo, referring to it as “big foot.”
Ron Dyer, who alongside Lunn introduced the sans-wings kangaroo, was also reportedly speechless when showed the new design. In an article published on news.com.au in 2007, Dyer questioned why Qantas would “waste up to $100 million changing the logo on its fleet” for what he described as an inelegant design. In the article, he was quoted as saying, “Jesus Christ, there is nothing stylish about the kangaroo whatsoever. If you only knew how long it took us to get that whole thing working originally.”
The logic behind the redesign, however, is hard to argue with. Due to the no-paint zones on the A380, the foot would have gone straight through the tailplane and subsequently would have looked like a legless kangaroo that had had its feet literally amputated.
“We never thought the design would be revolutionary, because Qantas was already regarded as one of the most recognised brands in the world,” Hulsbosch explains. “So we could never be revolutionary; it just needed to be contemporised.”
In 2008, the trademark went on to win a Cannes Design Lions Gold. In reference to the naysayers, Hulsbosch remarks that there are lots of people who find it difficult to handle change. “It wasn’t the [Cannes] award that silenced the critics; it was the time and the implementation of the new contemporary kangaroo,” he says. “Being chosen as one of the 10 best identities in the world was nice recognition from our peers, but the proof [of the] pudding [is in the eating]. The logo is out there every day and it’s loved by people, and ultimately that’s what it is all about.”