Admit it: If you are a print designer who practiced design during the ’90s you would have not been able to get anything longer than one page done without the software we all love to hate to its death, QuarkXPress. With its funky key commands, stubborn interface and legendary — mythical? — poor customer service, Quark has made award-winners, exceptional vendors and trusted consultants out of a large percentage of designers. Yet, at the smallest fault, like failing to export a simple document to PDF, all we can say is “Quark sucks.” With a new identity, unveiled last week, Quark hopes to, well, not suck so much.
Old iterations of QuarkXPress’ identity over the years
“It’s radically different from our old logo,” says said Glen Turpin, Quark’s director of corporate communications in a press release, “That’s why it’s the perfect symbol for the new Quark. Our company has changed dramatically. Like our new logo, once people catch a glimpse of who we are today and where we’re going, we’ll be impossible to ignore.”
New logo, designed by SicolaMartin
Clearly, it’s radically different from the old logo. Unfortunately, it’s not radically different from a dozen-plus logos that use the circle-with-a-square-corner design element.
Since Quark is the latest to the hip shape party, it is easy, and expected, for some of the holders of these logos to be concerned of plagiarism and condemn Quark for “stealing” their logo. But, seriously, how original is this shape? And how is it different from a circle or a square, heck, how — as a branding element — is it different from a blue square?
This shape has a certain designerly edginess to it: is it a circle? Is it a square? What is it by golly?!
It has a simple dynamism that makes it a comfortable shape for designers, clients and consumers alike — all can cope with its offbeat attitude that does not really challenge much. In most of the cases shown above the shape is a “holding” or decorative element, it neither adds nor substracts meaning from the logo, it is not crucial to the representation of any of these companies. In Quark’s case, it’s different: It has a reason for being — a modest and literal reason perhaps — it’s an abstract “Q”, it translates. Surely, they could have opted for a different design element, one not as commonly used, but why should they stop when no one else has?
I would skeptically accept any reasoning from the above, varied logos as to why they chose that shape, other than it looked good. Quark is not stealing anyone’s logo — despite claims on forums like The Designers Network — they are simply putting intention behind a geometric shape — not much different from a circle, a square or a triangle — that anyone could use. Quark may or may not suck, but complaining about plagiarism — creativity and originality aside — in this case, does suck.