LOGOS ARE an important tool in the image and branding of a company. Apple, the world’s most valuable brand, has an instantly recognisable logo, one based on the fruit given by Adam to Eve and taken from the tree of life. The Amazon logo, with the subtle emphasis on A to Z, is another. Yet there are companies that seem to have chosen logos that, in actual fact, have quite negative connotations. Take the Seattle-based Starbucks logo, visible outside their outlets and on the cup you drink the coffee in. It depicts a siren, a mermaid with long hair. She was originally chosen as the logo because Starbucks was looking for a nautical theme to capture the spirit of Seattle. This was back in 1971 when Seattle was known for sailing and seaports. In mythology, however, sirens were evil creatures who would sing an “irresistibly sweet” song to lure sailors on to the rocks they were sitting on and the sailors would die. Then there is the iconic Versace logo, depicting another long-haired lady, the Medusa. Medusa was also an evil temptress who turned men into stone, according to Greek myth, and was punished by getting snakes for hair and fangs. Not quite attractive imagery for a high-end fashion house.
Car companies also tend to name their cars based on what rolls nicely off the tongue. Either it’s a meaningless, simple word (Accent, Amaze) or one that invokes speed and danger, like Vanquish or Mustang. Volkswagen liked the world ‘Phaeton’, the high-end model they sell in India. It sounds good, but most car branding takes Greek mythology as an inspiration except, in this case, it literally backfired. In Greek mythology, it refers to a headstrong young man who was the son of Apollo. When he came of age, he borrowed his father’s chariot and while riding it around, he was killed by Zeus with a lightning bolt. Another popular sports carmaker, Porsche, chose a logo based on the colours of the German flag, the name of the city where the company is based (Stuttgart) and a picture of a horse to denote power and speed. Horses were once bred in Stuttgart—and the city’s name translates to ‘stud farm’, not exactly the imagery the high-end carmaker would want.