Quark Oopsie

Yeah, I know I promised myself that I’d never mention the “Q-word” on this blog but this is just too good.

[Quark](http://www.quark.com) is trying to change their image. They’re feeling the heat from Adobe and they know they can’t sit on their rump and rest on their market share anymore. Imagine that…making software that people actually *want* to use, not use because they have to. And Quark is supposedly trying to treat customers like customers, and not a bunch of potential thieves.

There’s nothing they can say or do to get my business back, but I’m still on their mailing list. I got an email last week announcing their new logo and teasing for Quark 7. Didn’t give it too much thought until I saw [this post from Antipixel](http://www.antipixel.com/blog/archives/2005/09/11/the_new_quark_logo.html).

Quark’s new logo:


Scottish Arts Council current (and presumably much older than Quark’s) logo:


Coincidence? Maybe. I know how the design process works. You’re influenced by everything you see. Ideas rarely start from a blank page. You think about what you’ve seen and experienced and try to bring that in to the design at hand.

Here’s a true story… I didn’t design the [C3](http://www.c-three.org) logo. With my blessing, the Board contracted with a well-known medical PR firm to do the initial launch work. It had to happen in too short a time period for me to do solo out of my home studio. However, I looked at everything the PR firm did and I was one of the folks who had the final decision about what logo to use. I looked at their 4 designs, we made our comments, tweaks and suggestions and we ended up with this one:


A few days later, the PR firm came to us and said “we have a problem.” It seems that the alzheimer’s organization’s logo was remarkably similar:


I am sure that the similarities were pure coincidence. Our logo evolved to the point it ended and the fact that it ended in a similar place just *happened*. In a “oh dang we have to fix this quickly” moment I was the one who turned the puzzle on its side making it look very different from the alzheimer’s logo (and let’s face it…more like polyps than heads) and we went from there.


So was it reasonable that Quark’s independent design ended up at the *exact* same place as the Scottish Arts logo? I’m not sure. The logo does “feel” more like a Q than anything having to do with Scottish Arts. Also, had our PR firm found a similar logo in a completely different industry we might have moved forward with the original logo anyway. We changed it because the similar logo was from another health-related organization. It was a stressful few hours, days before our printed materials were due to go out the door. I think we ended up with a better logo, so it all worked out in the long run. Design is a process.

So, I’d love to be a fly on the wall at Quark. Did they know? Do they care?


10 responses to “Quark Oopsie”

  1. I’ve been following this saga but until I read your post I didn’t see the Scottish Arts Councils logo as an “A.” But now that I look at it, the mark could be either a Q or an A.

    Now, shall we talk about the effectiveness in communicating either Quark’s or the Scottish Arts Council’s mission with this mark?

  2. Quark has a mission? How do you convey “dang they finally realized our software is big, bloated, buggy and expensive and we gotta do something about that” in a mark? 😉

  3. Regarding the similar (exacty alike) logo issues: see “George Harrison: My Sweet Lord vs. He’s So Fine).

    Just found your site. I’ll be coming back.


  4. Hi Judi,

    I was searching for interesting design articles to post on our intranet and came across yours. We have an intranet page devoted just to our internal graphic designers (about 50 companywide) and would love to post your article. Would you permit me to do so? Thank you for your time.

    Whitney Bailey
    Cardinal Health

  5. Rotated or not, that logo that you picked is horrible. Making matters worse, the point of an icon is to represent something, but you made it mean nothing by arbitrarily rotating an already confusing icon.

  6. Regardless of whether or not it’s copied or just that too designers came up with the same design, it’s a awful logo. And poorly designed. A logo is all about identity, and the fact that you can’t truly tell if it’s a Q or an A or a knob of some sort takes away from that identity. And I’ll bet that Quark paid SicolaMartin a lot for this piece of garbage.

  7. I only just noticed that this article’s a bit dated and Quark already has a newer logo. 🙂