The logo and women

// 6 January 2011

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logos.jpgHow do you design a logo for a women’s or feminist organisation? If this visual essay at Art Fag City is anything to go by, it’s quite difficult to come up with something original. (Via Feministing)

Swirly representations of women’s dancing figures loom large in the logos of organisations in the women’s sector, as well as women’s support groups, health and beauty firms.

Not only is this repetitive and a little dull, the use of an image of a headless, faceless woman or women can be seen as problematic, as it plays into the ‘woman as symbol not person’ trope, and defining women in terms of our bodies (or rather an idea about what our bodies ‘should’ look like).

As Coutney at Feministing says:

Of course it’s natural to think of women’s bodies, particularly for organizations that are health-related, but must every one end up as some squiggle-of-dancing-feminine-curves? I also understand that a lot of people take issue with our logo, which, indeed, is a woman’s body. But in our case, I think the concept is pretty damn original-reclaiming an image that has been so patently misogynistic by arming her with a definitive point of view.

Our own logo will evolve ever-so-slightly when our redesign goes live, but we’re sticking with the text-only solution. Lots of other UK groups have gone down the text-only or text-mostly route, such as Ladyfest Ten (you might remember that logo was the product of a competition) and UK Feminista.

feministlibrarydragon.jpgOne organisation here in the UK which does have a logo without a ‘womanly curve’ in sight is the Feminist Library in Elephant & Castle, which went for a reading dragon (I suppose you could argue the dragon’s tail is curvey?!). Kalayaan shows a bird flying away rosa.jpgfrom her cage. Rosa sports an abstract representation of a rose.

The Women’s Resource Centre also avoided this problem, opting for a circular arrangement of the letter W.

Meanwhile, the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation has a logo based on its acronym, but I like their use of a variety of rather abstract paintings of women’s faces on their website banner, which talks to a diversity of representations of women.

Comments From You

Georgia // Posted 6 January 2011 at 6:28 pm

‘The Womens Press’ publishing house had an iron as their symbol – to the point!

Mephit // Posted 6 January 2011 at 7:04 pm

Don’t know if it counts, but Virago Press have a half-eaten apple for their logo.

Kate // Posted 6 January 2011 at 8:30 pm

Does anyone else think the logos at the top look like they could be tampon brands?

Jess McCabe // Posted 6 January 2011 at 11:13 pm

@Mephit I think it counts :-)

Suraya // Posted 6 January 2011 at 11:39 pm

I found when I started describing how I wanted the look & feel for Filament magazine to be, ie, clearly feminine but not frilly and fussy, I was quite alarmed as to how few people – graphic designers included – could imagine that that was possible. I think… there can be a lot of thinking inside the box out there in the world.

I LOVE the feminist library’s new logo, it goes well with their new joie de vivre.

Hannah // Posted 7 January 2011 at 6:16 pm

Looks like I got beaten to it with Women’s Press and Virago, but those are certainly logos I’ve always enjoyed. There are so many symbols of female oppression that it’s fun to appropriate one back, as with TWP or Virago, or with the sassy lady in the feministing logo. For me, the ideal logo for a women’s organisation is something that will make you arch an eyebrow – just as the woman in the Jezebel logo is pictured doing, in fact.

Thinking about the Feministing one a bit more, its strength seems to me to be that it is defined, without being specific. The bold outline marks it out from all those polite and wishy washy ‘squiggle’ design, that are so keen not to intrude on your field of vision they’re half in the process of erasing themselves – not something a women’s logo wants to say, I’m sure we’d agree! At the same time, the logo doesn’t take on so much of an individual identity that it becomes a representation of a specific person, which would be exclusionary.

Top marks to Ladyfest too, carefully thought through as well as a really nice piece of graphic design.

Gail // Posted 7 January 2011 at 7:55 pm

We at the Feminist Library are thrilled you have noticed our joie de vivre!

Further evidence of this can be found in our upcoming 35th anniversary bash (see below), and our ongoing series of events which will be starting in March at the Feminist Library Upstairs – they will be fun, informative, activist, musical, poetic, creative (including embroidery!), and much more.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, February 19th from 7:00pm – 11:00pm at The Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, London, E5 OPU

The Feminist Library will be

Celebrating 35 years of archiving and activism

It has been 35 years since the Feminist Library was founded as a humble shelf of books seeking to preserve the (often ephemeral) literature of the women’s liberation movement, and we’re going to celebrate this landmark anniversary by having a massive party on 19th February. We are currently finalizing the details of our *very* exciting lineup. Save the date and all will be revealed soon. Expect music, comedy, drinks, cakes, dancing and, of course, lots of good people.

Ticketing details will be announced soon.

Would you like a stall at the event? Get in touch:

Would you like to volunteer before or at the event? A list of available roles is here:

Email for more details.

The venue is fully accessible.

We will be running a licensed bar, with cakes too.

Friendly feminist people of all ages and genders are welcome.!/feministlibrary

earwicga // Posted 12 January 2011 at 2:56 pm

This is interesting regarding the re-branding from YWCA to Platform 51

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