Logo contest, and lessons from the XFree86 debacle

Anthony Atkielski atkielski.anthony at wanadoo.fr
Thu Feb 10 01:09:54 PST 2005

Farid Hajji writes:

> What's wrong with Beastie being the logo as well as the mascot?

Mainly technical.  Complex designs are expensive to print and hard to
adapt to different media.  That's why logos tend to be simple.

A full-color image with shading and blending of colors requires a
full-color process for proper rendering in any specific medium.  When
printing on paper, for example, it requires four- or six-color offset
printing, with screens and trapping to allow for shading and blending
and to prevent color fringing.  This is really expensive.

In display, full-color images tend to scale poorly, and if they contain
lots of fine detail it tends to blur when the image is reduced.  Most
images like this are also bitmapped, which means they cannot be
efficiently scaled--you need a separate version for many different
possible sizes.

Also, complex images are not retained as easily as simple images.

For logos, you want something simple, that is easy to remember and
recognize (so easy that anyone will immediately notice any variation in
the logo).  It must also be cheap and easy to adapt to many different
media, which means that it should use no more than two or three colors,
and the colors should not touch, and it should contain no shading or
fine detail or blending of colors.  It should still look okay in pure
black and white (what if you have to embosse it on a CD case?), and it
should look okay on a letterhead, a truck, or a sign in front of an

In recent years (the past few decades), simple logos have been the rule
and tend to look more professional than complex logos.

> It's been BSD's most prominent brand since the very beginning.

Now you're talking about a brand, but that is different from a mascot or
a logo.

> Changing this now is absolutely insane from a PR's POV.

Developing a logo doesn't represent a change, since FreeBSD has no logo.

> Remember what happened with the XFree86 project as they choose
> to change their license terms without community support?

Licensing is something completely different.  It's best not to confuse
licensing, mascots, brands, and logos.


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