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Why are we so loco over logos?

By WILSON LEE FLORES, The Philippine Star Published Jul 23, 2023 5:00 am

Did you know that two National Artists had designed timeless logos for two venerable business institutions, while a self-made advertising entrepreneur and future industrial tycoon helped design another popular logo for the Philippines’ biggest shopping mall chain?

Did you know that a famous self-made tycoon became teary-eyed when her company’s old logo, which she designed, was voted out by her family members in favor of a modernized version?

Netizens just wanna have fun

Due to animated social media debates about the national government’s new “Bagong Pilipinas” logo, PAGCOR’s new logo, and the controversial new slogan by the Department of Tourism, here are some stories and my observations about timely, timeless, and inspiring logo successes that showcase the Philippines as a bastion of artistic creativity.

Is it really more fun(d) in the Philippines?
Why did the chicken run across the road?

What factors make great logos?

Simple, sensible, and easy to remember

I like the logo for SM malls and department stores, with its simple blue color coming across as cool and casual. My late friend, the immigrant, self-made entrepreneur and Century Tuna tycoon Ricardo Po, once told me his early advertising firm had designed the blue “SM” logo for late, self-made entrepreneur Henry Sy, Sr., whose firms now are led by his visionary successors Teresita “Tessie” Sy Coson, Hans Sy, and other siblings.

Ricardo Po had an advertising firm that designed SM blue logo. He later founded Century Tuna.

 Change by improving, not retrogressing

Very smart leaders make changes in their logos or slogans, while making sure these are qualitative improvements, not totally abandoning the past. Jollibee has been evolving and improving its logo through the decades, simplifying and beautifying its design, while retaining the happy face of the bee.

Another case of improving a logo but not totally junking the past is National Bookstore. Its logo was designed by its founder, self-made entrepreneur Socorro C. Ramos, and was successfully used for half a century.

In 1996, her children and grandkids outvoted her to adopt a Singapore firm’s new logo design with a more modern font, but still retaining its famous red and white colors. Socorro Ramos once recounted to me that she was teary-eyed over the logo change, due to sentimental reasons, but she eventually accepted their decision to modernize it.

Highlight heritage and tradition

Some companies that take pride in their traditions convey the prestige of that heritage through even more intricate logos, like those of the Ramon Ang-led San Miguel Corporation, or the logo of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), led by chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and president Jose Teodoro “TG” Limcaoco.

Fernando Amorsolo was commissioned to design Ginebra San Miguel logo in 1917

Great logos withstand the test of time and changing trends. Among these is Fernando Amorsolo’s 1917 Ginebra San Miguel logo called “Marca Demonio,” an artwork depicting Saint Michael using his sword to strike the fallen devil. This logo was commissioned when the business was then owned by the Zobel family and based in the Quiapo district of Manila, and was still used when sold to pre-war Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Carlos Palanca of La Tondeña, and even now by current owner San Miguel Corp. 

 Another timeless logo is the red 1920 China Bank logo from the era of its founder, “Lumber King” and activist, Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Dee C. Chuan. China Bank is now ably led by chairman Hans Sy, the late founder’s nephew, vice chairman Gilbert Dee, and president Romeo D. Uyan, Jr.

National Artist Ang Kiu Kok

Davao City-born National Artist Ang Kiu Kok designed the blue and white logo of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) which depicts the resilient and uniquely endemic Filipino tamaraw buffalo, plus the Chinese word for “commerce” inside a design that to me resembles a plum blossom. The plum blossom, which flourishes even during harsh winter, is one of the symbols of perseverance for ethnic Chinese people.


Led by the Zobel family, Ayala Corporation has a blue geometric logo conveying sturdiness and symmetry, combining the capital letter “A” and its upside-down version. Its realty developer Ayala Land, Inc., led by chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and president Bobby Dy, has a similarly shaped logo but is green in color.

Self-made business leader Andrew Tan’s realty developer Megaworld Corporation’s logo is serenely blue in color, combining the capital letter “M” with a capital letter “W” to convey solidness, dependability, and equilibrium. 

Led by chairman Arthur Ty and president Fabian Dee, Metrobank has a blue and symmetrical logo of a diamond-shaped globe atop a stylized letter “M,” signifying strength and stability. 

Simple in its blue color, there’s the sturdy-looking logo of Filinvest Land founded by the late Andrew Gotianun and Mercedes Tan Gotianun. United Laboratories, Inc. (Unilab), led by chairman Jocelyn Dee Campos-Hess, has a blue and white logo, bearing only its name and the simple tagline, “Trusted Quality Healthcare.

The Aboitiz Group, led by president Sabin M. Aboitiz, has a logo with simple design, great typography and an attractive red color.

Mega Sardines, led by founder William Tiu Lim and CEO Michelle Tiu Lim-Chan, uses yellow, green and red colors in its logo, plus a photo of a fishing boat and blue sea in the center to convey its integrated business of catching and canning sardines.

Century Tuna, led by chairman Chris Po, has a simple and straightforward logo: just the brand name in red and black.

Elegant design

I told former Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato “Boy” de la Pena that his department has one of the government’s most elegant logos: alternating light blue and black colors, a symmetrical four circles seemingly symbolizing atoms, with a star in the middle representing a beacon of light and positive energy.

Other government agencies with sensible and good logos include: the unique, shield-like Philippine National Police (PNP) logo, DOT’s seashell logo, the Department of Agriculture’s rice stalk design, and TESDA.

I also admire the dynamic, green and blue Philippine eagle-shaped logo of Cebu Pacific Air, led by Lance Y. Gokongwei.