Top Ten Australian Logos – 6th

Published:  October 8, 2012
Top Ten Australian Logos – 6th

As featured in the May 2012 issue of desktop, over the next few weeks, we will be revealing our top 10 Australian logos of all time. Read more about the feature 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: Woolmark

It was 1963 when the Australian body known as the International Wool Secretariat called for submissions from the international community for a universal symbol that would stand for the quality wool it exported around the world. The successful image that is used and recognised across the UK, Japan, Europe and the US is referred to as the Woolmark. It was thought to best represent an icon which would, according to the competition announcement, “hold consumer confidence and represent quality standards.”

The winning design, while loved and recognised the world over, has its origins entangled in some contention. Although official sources maintain the creator of the logo was a Milanese designer named Francesco Saroglia, some critics have suggested that no such person ever existed. Plus, the timeless logo he allegedly crafted is the only creation ever publicly attributed to Saroglia. No other records have ever been found referencing his work – no books, no exhibitions, webpages or official documents. As Creative Review despaired in its article last year, “How could the designer of one of the most famous logos of all time have left no trace of his wider practice?”


Neon advertising display in Piccadilly Circus, London c.1970

In 50 years, the mystery has never been conclusively solved, though folklore hints that at the heart of the knot is Franco Grignani. An established Italian artist and designer, Grignani was on the judging panel of the logo competition. Popular theory has him taking a gamble by sidestepping protocol with a falsely named entry and, in the end, submitting the winning design. Perhaps he simply could not resist the challenge.

One story suggests that Grignani created the logo by drawing with the prongs of a fork. This claim cannot be verified, since he died in 1999, but it would make some sense, considering the balanced, parallel line work that was typical of his style. Grignani apparently did not receive any compensation for his design, although he later held exhibitions that revealed his initial sketches – asserting that he was the original trademark creator. Design experts interviewed by Creative Review agreed that the logo fits neatly into the artist’s body of work, and so this attribution solves the mystery for many design pundits.


2011 logo by The Design Corporation used in The Campaign for Wool marketing

Woolmark logo in use on swing tag

The Secretariat, now known as Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), does not entertain this speculation surrounding the logo’s mysterious original designer. “We know the design was submitted under the name of a Signor Francesco Saroglia and, while we have no evidence, as far as I’m aware, to suggest that it was a pseudonym, we recognise that there has been plenty of interesting debate about his identity,” says AWI manager of publications and public relations, Richard Smith. In the half century it has existed, over two billion labels bearing the Woolmark logo have been stitched into woollen products. “Five black bands criss-crossing to form a skein-shape perfectly represented the softness, elegance and modernity of wool,” Smith says. “The logo’s strength comes from its graphic simplicity.”

The Design Corporation, a London-based design firm, was invited to refresh the logo with a green and blue colour palette to act as a sub-palette for environmental campaigns launched in 2011, which promoted wool as a natural resource. The April 2011 edition of Creative Review announced the Woolmark as its number one logo of all time. The cover of the magazine featured a striking, re-imagined design by typographer Alex Trochut, who drew inspiration from this legendary ball of wool, the true origins of which may never be unravelled.


Creative Review cover by Alex Trochut, April 2011

1964 (current) logo Francesco Saroglia.

Thumbnail: 1964 (current) logo Francesco Saroglia.

2 Responses

  1. Margaret

    I found the writing for the wool logo very interesting and informative. The extent of the research was through and left me wondering who the real designer was encouraging me to read more.

  2. Margaret – if you can track down the Creative Review issue, it’s a fantastic read, and goes into a heap of detail.

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