Abstract Wikipedia/Updates/2021-01-15

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Just as with the name, we are starting with a request to submit proposals. As time of this writing, three proposals are already in - we are looking for more proposals for logo concepts. The deadline for submitting proposals is in a month from now, February 16, 2021, followed by a single round of voting.

Wikimedia Community voting.
We are looking for the Wikifunctions logo concept!

As with Wikidata, the proposals don't have to be fully polished. There will be a final step of legal review and design polishing. We invite everyone to participate in the logo concept process and submit your proposals.

I am amazed by the creativity and productivity of the communities to come up with logos for our projects. My personal favorite, by quite a stretch, is the Wikidata logo. Maybe it is because I am obviously biased towards that project, but I also love its recognizability, the layers of meaning it has, its flexibility to change and accommodate events and situations by changing sneakily the word that the bar encodes, etc.

I wish that the Wikifunctions logo will contain a similar form of flexibility. That it is similarly recognizable, even when sized down a lot (the favicon for Wikidata is really neat).

I could imagine that going through the works and notes of people like Alan Turing, Ada Lovelace, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, could lead to interesting inspirations. A Turing machine? Lambda calculus? Aristotelian logic and its various notations?

Maybe something more practical. A punched card as it was used for the Jacquard loom? A punchhole card could make an interesting basis for a logo. Gears and steam-power are another possible basis, as they have implemented ‘smart’ appliances such as automatic doors for millenia. Or semiconductor chips and boards.

All of these have the potential to look very detailed and fuzzy when they get scaled down. So it might be worthwhile to explore slightly different designs at different sizes. E.g. the number of holes in a punchhole card, or the number of circuits on a board might be different. For example I could imagine a chip in the center with a lambda embossed, where circuits connect it to the other Wikimedia projects, with highly stylized logos — just a rectangle for Wikidata, a triangle for Wikivoyage, nine little rectangles for Wiktionary, etc. And the smaller version is just the lambda with lines going out, etc.

There is no need to follow the Wikimedia colors. But there is also no need not to. I think the incorporation of these colors in the Wikidata logo worked out beautifully. But the logo of Wikisource is no worse due to not incorporating the colors.

One proposal is already on wiki. I am adding my own proposal, because it is so easy to create: a backslash, a lambda, and a slash, looking like a W in many fonts: \λ/ 😉

I am looking forward to your ideas, and just want to start the conversation and the brainstorming here. The goal is to have discussions and ideas, and everyone should feel comfortable to borrow from each other in creating proposals for the first round. Let’s discuss possible inspirations and ideas for the next few weeks. I would love this to be much less a competition or a contest with a single winner, and much more a collaboration and cooperation, where, in the end, we all win.

Here are also some great words of consideration by Zack McCune:

Logos are visual tools. A logo uses recurring graphic elements (made of colors, shapes, icons) to represent a company, initiative, project, or organization without any words.

When used in combination with a formal name, the precise arrangement of the logo and name are called a  “brand lock-up ” (Here’s a handy set of examples from the University of Indiana in the United States).

Making a great logo is about balancing a few graphic design factors:

  1. Recognition – Can people understand what is depicted?
  2. Association – Do the graphic elements communicate the project or company’s purpose? Do they link the project or company to a family of related brands? Does the design suggest connection to a theme, object, or process essential to the project or company?
  3. Originality – Is the graphic unique enough to not be confused with existing projects or companies?
  4. Versatility – Will the graphic work BIG and small? Can people use the graphic easily (e.g. place it correctly in new designs, adapt it for wide application), and use it quickly possibly even drawing or approximating it?

In the Wikimedia world, association is one of the most important qualities for a new project logo. There is much recognition (and love, which marketers call “affinity”) for Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects and referencing graphic elements (colors, shapes, symbols) from these existing logos will help BUILD upon their reputations.

As you look to make a logo, try a lot of approaches. Collect symbols associated with the topic. Look for patterns/trends in the symbol sets. Universities, for example, often using heraldic design traditions to suggest history and credibility, but are also criticized as out-dated and overly western. Consider where you want to be original and where you want to use associations. Noun Project searches can be helpful for finding symbols linked to phrases or topics.

Logos also have stories embedded in them. Consider how the artwork you are making will be part of future conversations. The Wikidata logo, for example, intentionally resembles a bar code. This is quickly apparent and communicates the project’s purpose. But there is more to learn about the logo… and that story deepens the care and joy people have for this brand.

Simplicity in design is hard. Sketch many many ideas! Try to limit yourself to a small drawing area or with a fixed stroke width to make ideas even more minimal. Also: do not start with color. Logos are registered in black and white and must function as memorable single-color expressions to be effective across many use cases (e.g. on t-shirts, on slides, on multi-colored backgrounds).

Got a set of logo ideas? Great! You should also test logo ideas with friends, family, colleagues, and ideally the audience of people you want to have a functional/emotional reaction to the design. Feedback will help ideas improve and grow towards highly memorable and effective graphic design. Further design guidance now at the Logo page is adapted from the great advice originally captured by my colleague Volker.

The process will take a while, and we explicitly reserve the freedom to modify it as we go if we see that things are not working out as planned. And our first step is to come up with a sizeable number of ideas and proposals, before we start to vote and whittle them down to a small set of core ideas that in turn can be expanded upon.

Join us in finding the Wikifunctions logo concept!

I am looking forward to what you come up with!