Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Commerce Without Words

Though we are constantly assaulted with advertising and logos with every product trying to stand out in the crowd, I find fewer examples of the drawing point today.

We are all familiar with a barber pole. It is a symbol that even people who can't read know what goes on inside the door. I guess now that most people can read it isn't so important to have the display, but it is a tradition that keeps it going.

The symbol of the mortar and pestle is the symbol for the druggist. A balance is the symbol of law offices. The wooden Indian is the symbol for tobacco shops. The brass balls are the symbols of a pawn shop. Some Italian restaurants or pizza parlors had the symbol of a short man with a mustache dressed in white with a chef's hat.

My favorite is the giant six-foot ice cream cone that would sit atop custard shops. These symbols were meant to be seen from a great distance. They weren't just signs. They went beyond signs and entered the realm of a beacon. Even a kid in the back seat of a car could spot the giant ice cream cone from enough distance that they had time to start begging a couple miles in advance. They were a perfect eye catcher for kids that were too young to read. Kids knew fully what to expect in the business that was under this symbol.

It would be nice if modern businesses could focus on their symbols and gather around a standard rather than each having copyright protected logos.


Anonymous Auntie said...

symbols would be cool. You are right there used to be symbols for all kinds of places of trade and commerce.

Words get a bit wordy.And not nearly as artistic

5:58 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

I think we need to make giant fiberglass figures have a comeback. Remember the Burger Family and the Muffler Man and all those dinosaurs and gas station attendants? Wheee!

6:38 AM  
Blogger mark said...

Doggie Diner!

8:29 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

The expense would probably be prohibitive and I'm sure towns planning departments would do all they could to stop that tide.

5:30 AM  

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