"Cover the Earth" logo contest

(Entry instructions below)

I've been meaning to say the following about Sherwin-Williams' "Cover the Earth" logo for some time: I don't like it.

Plenty of others have said the same, and maybe you agree. If you're a graphic designer, I really hope you agree, especially in light of Sherwin-Williams' environmental efforts.

Graphic designers aren't just commercial artists. They're also communicators of meaning, and if their faith actively influences their work, then the direction of SWs' GreenSure Initiatives ought to have some bearing on the graphics they produce. Granted, this logo is 100+ years old, but isn't it time for a change?

CALLING ALL GRAPHIC DESIGNERS (or friends of graphic designers, or semi-serious doodlers, or even supernatural Etch-A-Sketchers like George): Sherwin-Williams needs a new logo and slogan!

Entry instructions:
1. Check out the GreenSure Initiatives here.
2. Create a new logo and slogan for Sherwin-Williams.
3. Send the entry to me at samvaneman "at" gmail "dot" com in a commonly used file format (i.e. jpeg, PDF, doc).
4. Tell your graphic design students/friends about the contest. (You can click on the little envelope at the bottom of this post to e-mail it to them.)

Deadline for entries: July 18, 2008.

I'll post the entries after the deadline. Readers will then have a chance to vote on the top entries.

Why should you enter this contest?
+ I'll send the top two entries to Sherwin-Williams. Not sure what they'll do with them, but they'll at least know we care about the world we live in.
+ It will give you a chance to practice integrating faith and work in a practical way.
+ You'll receive feedback from readers on your work.

Thanks in advance! Now get to work.


L.L. Barkat July 15, 2008 at 10:45 AM  

I'm thinking "Color the Earth" could be more flexible. And making the "l" in color into a multi-color tree. The problem here is that the mission of Sherwin Williams doesn't quite fit the environmental mission per se. Maybe that needs to be unpacked, discussed first, before a new logo and motto can be considered?

Sam Van Eman July 15, 2008 at 12:40 PM  

By mission do you mean making paint which is hazardous enough that you can't put left over cans out in the regular trash, and whose fumes could kill you or at least ruin your long-term memory without proper ventilation? Then, yes, I totally agree. Doesn't seem to have much pro-environment quality to it, does it?

But assuming we need paint (We do. In fact, one of the recurring plagues in my life is the rust on my '91 Toyota pick-up, but five grand for a new re-coat far outweighs the value and life-expectancy of the truck), then paint companies must exist. For bridges, buildings, art, fence posts, bicycles, and so on, something has to protect them. (I'm playing the Devil's advocate a bit, but only a bit.)

Anyone want to unpack this, as l.l. rightly suggests?

L.L. Barkat July 15, 2008 at 5:45 PM  

Yup, that's what I meant. :)

Bob Robinson July 17, 2008 at 10:26 AM  

I'm very excited about this. S-W is a large corporation here in Cleveland, and I have contact with the Senior Vice President of Corporate Planning and Development. Let me know how this goes!!

Kari July 22, 2008 at 8:58 PM  

Okay, So I have no graphic design skills, but I'm pretty sure that even I could have done better than the current logo and slogan. I know this sounds awful, but the current logo looks like blood covering the earth... not appealing. This is probably not the vibe they really want to be sending customers when they are selling a product that you already pointed out can be hazardous and cause health problems. They should look to Mythic Paint if they want some ideas on marketing the environmentally sound aspect of paints. http://www.mythicpaint.com/

Dave Klonke July 23, 2008 at 11:33 AM  

I applaud your idea and after you pointed this out, it's almost comical how un-green this is. However, it's not just the logo that needs refining. As a brand strategist, I see people placing way too much emphasis on the design rather than the overall message.

I also see too many "contests" where people expect something like this to be created for free. Logo and identity design isn't something you doodle out at night after you've put the kids to bed.

I don't expect you to get too many well-executed and professional designs, but best of luck and I do think it's worth pointing out to SW.

Sam Van Eman July 23, 2008 at 12:23 PM  

If enough Mythic Paint-like companies win the hearts of environmentally concerned consumers, S-W will push their GreenSure products farther even if it's just to keep their market share. Thanks for the link.
Also, design skills or no, I think you're right: You could have made a better logo!

Thanks for visiting. I hope you aren't offended by the trivial approach I took to design-making. I recognize that it's a process and can be quite time-consuming.

Regarding the pro bono point, I do think that people who see a need and really care about it will work for free, at night or whenever. And I imagine that a company like S-W, when seeing a great and voluntary effort by skilled designers, would be compelled to respond.

Perhaps I'll take a more serious approach in the next contest. Any other suggestions for me to consider?

Anonymous,  June 19, 2009 at 12:35 PM  

I love the logo just fine. The can symbolizes the Socialist Workers Party, the paint is blood, the globe is the global elite. The logo is very anti-globalization.

Sam Van Eman June 19, 2009 at 3:43 PM  

Anonymous, is that your take on it, or are you referencing something?

Anonymous,  August 21, 2011 at 1:10 AM  

I would just like to point out that this American based global company do have a 150 year old history. The logo has been drawn in many different forms over that time and I believe as artists we should be able to see the history and respect that as a where we have come from. Art and architecture is all about paying tribute to our histories while we make new interpretations for the future. The company as well as all its major competitors make a variety of coatings needed to protect things such as Mr. Van Eman's car as well as the Golden Gate Bridge, fleets of ships, and many other grand structures throughout history that you all have admired. Low odor house paints are only a small fraction of the paint world. Mythic paints do a great job of making the latter, but that is the extend of their line.

The logo is figurative, your interpretations are a bit literal.

Anonymous,  August 21, 2011 at 1:13 AM  

Pardon me. The American based company does have a 150 year old history.

Kari August 22, 2011 at 10:19 PM  

I read your point, however I stand by my original comment. Yes, the “Cover the Earth” logo is old. It was originally sketched by a one man advertising department and was first used in 1893. I know the history. It does not, however, change my opinion of it. I respect the history of the logo, however I don’t agree with SW’s decision to continue using it.

A company’s logo is how they choose to represent themselves to their customers and the rest of the world. Ideally, it’s what they want people to remember about them. When a company is responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of people, because they put lead in their products, and they have such an egregious logo, then I wonder about their motives. Sentimental or historical attachment doesn’t cut it for me when a logo has such a perverse and deadly history.

Yes, I understand that the world was different back then. Yes, SW now carries low-VOC paint, and they were one of the early companies to stop putting lead in their paint. However, to continue using the logo from when their company routinely polluted the air, water, and people using their product, well, it seems wrong, not to mention the fact that people are STILL being poisoned today by their old product.

Am I being too literal? I agree that the logo is figurative. I simply don’t like what the logo symbolizes. I’m about to use an example that is poles apart in severity of wrongness, but it makes my point. I don’t like the Confederate flag. I respect the history. I understand the history, but that doesn’t mean I want anything to do with the flag, and I do wonder about people who embrace it. I wonder about their beliefs and their lack of sensitivity towards others.

SW has an old logo. In my opinion it represents a bad period of their history, AND it still reminds me of blood. I don't like it, and I wish SW would stop trying to cover the earth, and just try to make a better logo.

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