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The Sony International Logotype Design Contest of 1981

November 25th, 2014

You’d expect a large consumer brand at the top of its game to have a huge branding and advertising budget. But back in 1981 – the heyday of the Sony Walkman – global electronics firm Sony decided to hand over a planned logo redesign to its customers.

But it turned out that crowdsourcing a logo was a really bad idea.

Instead of investing their dollars in hiring an experienced, professional team to carefully craft a new corporate identity, Sony launched the catchily titled ‘Sony International Logotype Design Contest’.

Open to anyone around the world, the competition to design a new Sony logo received nearly 30,000 submissions. A long list of 59 designs was presented to a panel of company directors, managers and designers, and the technology world waited with bated breath to hear who had won the coveted prize money, and the honour of branding a major corporation.

When the big announcement came, via an advertorial in Time Magazine, it wasn’t quite what we were expecting (see below)!

Apparently, Sony co-founder Masura Ibuka decided that none of the competition entries were any better than the existing logo. Though a Top 3 were chosen, and each received a share of the prize money, the ultimate decision was made to keep the Sony logo exactly the same.

And it has stayed the same to this day. What a waste of time!

What are your thoughts on crowdsourcing a logo?


About the Author:

Although her primary niche is in scientific writing and editing, freelance writer Lisa Martin is also a creative type with an eye for design. She regularly works alongside graphic designers and as such has a keen interest in the development of logos and branding.

Leave Your Comment

I agree one great, timeless logo design. Or is it? The trick of this logo is not in graphic design, that not many people understand. It is in the name. Put it in the Arial font and it will still work. Simplicity is a beneficiary, but this logo works 90% because of the short and catchy name. Branding is definitely a major part in it as well.

by PavelDecember 12, 2014