Top 5 Logos

Glenda Rissman RGD, Principal at q30 design inc., shares her favourite logos


Designers love well executed logos that begin to tell the story of what a company does. I suspect my favs are not dissimilar to yours. You know: BP, FedEx, IBM, they’re the classics, right?

I picked 5 logos that stand out in my mind as memorable. It was tough to narrow it down, but here they are.


Allan Fleming, 1960


Unlike now, when I was growing up, unless you saw a logo in a magazine, on a billboard, on a shoe or on television, there just weren’t many places to see how organizations chose to represent themselves. I recall driving past trains and seeing the CN logo repeating on the sides of cars. I was very young and had no idea what these lines represented. I remember looking at the shape as a whole trying to find its significance. It looked like a key to me. I love this logo – it just feels Canadian.


Julien Hébert


I was six years old when I went to Expo in Montreal, along with the other 50,000,000 that visited. The parking lot utilized graphic symbols of animals so you could remember where your car was parked. This place was super designed!!

If I look at each of the elements that make up the logo, it would not rank as a favourite of mine, but it is definitely memorable because it conjures up a feeling of excitement that was palpable in Montreal at this time. The Expo67 theme was Man and his World (thankfully that wouldn’t fly today) and depicts the ancient symbol of a man. The wordmark utilizes Optimum as it’s font, neither a serif or a sans serif and not a fav of mine. Eleven years later when I found myself in design school, my German, British and Dutch teachers were designers who had immigrated to Montreal shortly after Expo to ride the wave of sophisticated design that was being generated over the course of three decades.

The New School

Seigel+Gale, 2005


When this logo was released in 2005, I thought it was the perfect identity for an urban university in New York City and I had never seen a spray painted logo before. I loved the way it paired with the sans serif font of the descriptor.

I was disappointed that The New School felt they needed to rebrand 10 years later. They could have evolved this version easily. Siegel+Gale’s logo definitely paved the way for the Tate Modern logo created in 2016, a Dominic Ayre favourite and certainly mine as well. But the New School came first.


Jacques Guillon, 1962


I netted out with the Metro (subway) symbol in Montreal (not the grocery chain). It is not as iconic as London’s underground but I think it ranks higher on execution. This is dead simple at it’s finest and is quickly recognizable from a great distance. I am always surprised when I visit other cities and find myself challenged to locate their subway. 



Original: The Dayton’s (formerly Target) PR Team, 1962


The Target logo has had several iterations but in 2006 they decided to de-couple the wordmark from the target and made it much more impactful. Today it is one of the most recognized symbols in North America! I love the simplicity and boldness of it and it can coexist so effortlessly with ad campaigns. It has made my memorable list because Target was the first mass market retail chain in North America that embraced the idea that good design could be appreciated in every segment of the market and did not have to be cost prohibitive.


Published April 2018