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This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.


European + Organic = Euro-Leaf

Reviewed Feb. 18, 2010 by Armin

Industry / Government Tags /

EU Organic Logo

In April of last year, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development announced a competition — open only to design and art students from the 27 EU Member States — that “[Offers] a prize that money just can’t buy” according to the press release, “The winning logo will be introduced as the official logo for organic products throughout the European Union in July 2010.” In charge of filtering the first round of submissions was a panel of judges that included a combination of designers like Erik Spiekermann, Riitta Brusila-Räsänen, Szymon Skrzypczak, and Elisabeth Mercier, and non-designers from the organic industry like Urs Niggli and Tom Václavík, all of them overseen by Rob Vermeulen, former president of the Pan-European Brand Design Association. And the whole thing came with all the typical fine print of a design contest that tends to ruffle so many feathers. Nonetheless, 3,422 entries were submitted — you can see various of them here.

EU Organic Logo

The judges hard at work. Image source.

Of those, the jury selected 100 logos to advance to the next round, for which all designers received a certificate. The jury then selected the top ten, then the top three and, finally, those three were put to a public vote for the final selection. Below are three finalists with their respective vote percentages from approximately 130,000 votes cast over a period of two months.

EU Organic Logo

Left-top: Euro-Leaf, 63%
Left-bottom: Leaf and Ear, 10%
Right: Organic Story, 27%

Juror Urs Niggli, Director of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, had this to say about the three finalists after he felt “The harsh criticism of the organic stakeholder over the three proposed organic logos is not justified”:

The first logo proposed by the Commission shows the EU stars in the shape of a leaf. It is a very straightforward sign containing two clear messages: Nature and Europe. The graphical design is soft-footed and elegant. […] A further advantage is that it is not a dominant one, it is low profile in a gentle way. Therefore, it won’t compete with attractive private, regional or national logos, but it will add a congenial “green European element”.

The second logo proposed by the Commission is an amalgam between a leaf and an ear. In addition, it connotes germination: the leaf shape sprouts out of a lengthy seed. And finally, it shows a check sign at the bottom like the German organic logo. This second proposal is extremely dense in information. It shows the different dimension of organic agriculture: nature and human interactions as a metaphor for “Farmers who listen to nature”. With the check sign it symbolises the organic certification.

The third logo narrates the story of organic agriculture in a very precise way: integrating animals (dairy cow), apple, beetroot, cereals, grass, soil and water, all intrinsic elements of an organic system, positioned on a warm and harmonic green background. This logo fully meets the requirement of all those critics saying that a logo should contain the information “what is organic?”. The graphical design of the third logo is sensational! It realises the concept “reduce to the max” and appeals to young people and has a maverick shape. It tells a story like every good commercial. Contemporary design, with no hang-over to the pseudo-romantic design of 1968 generation, indeed.
From the Contest Facebook Page

The winner, Dusan Milenkovic, a student from Germany, with 63% of the votes received €6,000 (US$8,145), while the second and third place received €3,500 (US$4,750) and €2,500 (US$3,395) respectively. But as the original call for entries flaunted, Milenkovic indeed got a prize bigger than €6,000: his logo will become one of the most well-known across Europe, regardless of whether it’s the best possible logo the organization could have achieved.

And to be perfectly honest, the logo is not bad at all. The concept of integrating the twelve stars of the EU flag with a leaf is one of those concepts that seem so obvious but at the same time so easy to miss. The execution is another story… the main star from which the midrib (yes, I looked it up) of the leaf grows is very clumsy and unappealing, and the way the stars contort to the shape of the leaf gets the point across, but they are fairly inconsistent in how they react to the perspective, some are too condensed and others are too extended. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to take this concept to someone that can execute it with less flaws, and we still have to see how the “Euro-Leaf” pairs with typography to accommodate the word “Organic” in different languages but, all in all, this could have all had worse results.

Thanks to everyone who kept us informed on this contest since April 2009.



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