[Author's Note: Since publishing this post, more people have sent in their logos. They are listed at the end of the article.]
A logo is a precious nugget of information. Its job is to communicate within seconds the core of the company that it represents. When you think of the most popular brands today, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll also think of their logos. For example, the Nike swoosh defines the athletic, can-do identity of the company.
It is no wonder that with the Deafhood movement, there is a rise in deaf cultural values being incorporated in new logos. Deaf designers like Matt Daigle, Suzanne Stecker, and myself find innovative ways to show ASL and deaf perspectives in our work. This article is a look at the new ideas that have appeared.
Traditionally, the inclusion of deafness in icons or logos tends to be focused on the ear. Take the international symbol for deafness, for example.
It has been said that the symbol contributes to a negative view because it focuses on the inability of deaf people to hear. Compare the symbol with the old logo for Metro Deaf School.
In this example, the ASL sign for “success” (or more informally “pah!”) effectively communicates the expectations of students at the school. Instead of focusing on the ear, Metro Deaf School and many others are choosing a cultural approach in showing their identity.
There are several ways to do this. Like Metro Deaf School, a few other logos incorporate specific ASL signs.
Specific handshapes are not always necessary. It is possible to create logos that only show the motion lines a sign uses, yet still be understood.
Sometimes the hands themselves don’t show specific signs but still support the idea of a company being culturally Deaf or Deaf-friendly.
The hands can also make a political statement. One recurring theme is of ASL being the roots of the deaf community, like a tree. This was a strong image in the Gallaudet film, in the scene with ASL storyteller Mario “Manny” Hernandez describing growing plant life.
A global outlook can even be taken. The si5s logo uses a written representation of the French sign for three-dimensonal.
Finally, important figures in deaf history also make a great visual reminder. This may also depend on the name of the company.
Being deaf-founded and deaf-run does not mean a company or organization needs to lose its identity to conform to the mainstream. There are many excellent examples of logos that are professional and incorporate deaf cultural values. Don’t be afraid to hire a Deaf designer and explore your options!
More logos to check out:
New York Deaf Theatre: http://nydeaftheatre.com/
Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS): http://www.adwas.org
Deaf Sense: http://www.deafsense.com/