Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Picture This. Part The Second.

I'm hoping I'll never need to know too much about the Skoda. Despite its vast improvement since being taken over by Volkswagon, which bears the mark of the famous 'Vee Dubya' where both letters meet in a circular badge with the V of Volks (people's) resting on the W for wagon (car), the Skoda will always be considered a bit of a turkey. This point is almost reinforced as Skoda, rather obligingly, and in an act of stark self deprecation, seem to have chosen a green turkey as an emblem of speediness in its the badge.

A self-fulfilling prophecy perhaps? Actually, no. Closer inspection reveals that the figure in the badge is in fact a winged arrow. But just as it starts to occur that a nice irony has been missed, you realise that this winged arrow, far from looking quick and flash, looks a bit bent and its wings only amount to a single wing sticking clumsily upwards.

How to describe the The Toyota symbol? It's actually quite difficult as it's rather like one of those gestalt visual perception images, what it is depends on what you see. This squashed circle incorporating two ellipses roughly in the shape of a rounded T is the best I can do. It could just as easily be a bulb or a glass bowl or a cowboy hat if your visual structural context takes you that way.

My spies tell me that in Japanese, 'Toyo' means an abundance of, and 'ta' is rice and that some Asian cultures believe that those blessed with an abundance of rice are blessed with great wealth. So the circularly T in your Toyota logo depicts that the car you own was manufactured by a company that believed that one day it would be able to buy as much rice as it wants. And now it can.

The Subaru is another car that has an egg shaped badge. This one is made up of one big four point star and five smaller four point stars which are contained inside the ovate badge. Subaru. The first Japanese car company to use a name derived from its own language. It refers to the group of six stars - also known by its original Japanese name of mutsuraboshi which are found in the constellation of Taurus.

The Mazda logo at first glance is just a stylised V inside a circular badge. But if you look at it another way - we're back into gestalt territory again - it could be the head of a tulip. But sadly, the prosaic letter V wins over the poetic imagery of the flower. That said, the logo developed by Rei Yoshimara, a world-renowned corporate image-maker, meant the 'V' to represent outstretched wings, which Mazda wanted to use to demonstrate the creativity, the sense of mission, the gentleness and the flexibility that is Mazda. And in so doing almost wins one back some of the poetry. But not quite.

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