A journey not only for the logos of I Love NY, Apple or Nike with Lumír Kajnar

What was your background in graphic design and logo design?

Simple. Thanks to my art teacher, I discovered what I wanted to do in life in ninth grade. Others were involved in girls, sports, or learning I was preparing for college talent exams. In the 1990s, brand awareness was low, no one knew the concept of the logo, but there was already advertising, computers, Font magazine and the graphic biennial in Brno, thanks to which I aspired to the field. I was drawn to the world of multinational advertising agencies, where there was the knowledge, the money and the effort to do professionally what we admired in the West. Gradually, I penetrated into the thickets of ignorance and instead of omniscience, I honed the specialization of business graphics, which at least knows a little about what marketing is.

What is your main activity?

Research, sketches, preparation of presentations, finalization of documents. When I make an envelope for Diary N, I only need three hours from idea to submit print data. When it’s a brand identity, it can take years.

So how would you describe your current life as a graphic designer and brand architect?

I can’t get out of this. Work and leisure merged into one line. I experiment with complexity and interconnection, because symbols and media are everywhere. Filtering out the essential secondary and directional communication becomes more and more difficult, all the more necessary. The demand for meanings is growing. The advantage is that the acquired experience gives me structured ideas and quick reactions. In the chaotic world around us, it is attractive to perceive the whole where others see unrelated fragments. I don’t have to be the smartest in the room, but it’s clear to me that I’m often the only one putting it down on paper. I feel like a translator: I translate words, visions and feelings into visual communication.

What is a brand identity and how is it invented and created?

Spatra – a brand identity is a construction of thought wrapped in visions and missions, which must be defined by characteristic wording, graphics and other symbols, by which it can be distinguished from others.

I don’t think that an identity can really be invented, it rather seeks itself out, overlaps and composes itself. It is a symbolic layer of reality, a set of understandable abbreviations associated with the product, the founder, the history, the place, the communication, etc. For me as a designer, it is particularly important that whoever will live and work with the brand identifies with my ideas. At the beginning there may be an exact entry with clear parameters. But brand identity can also be born by writing down the symbols you already have, highlighting them and taking care of them.

How is the Czech Republic in terms of design and logo creation?

For me, there is no longer a single vision of our field. It’s a whole range of approaches. From the very aesthetic, borderline expressive to the experimental to the industrial, which focuses as much as possible on the resulting effect and profitability. And in each you will find destroyers and protectors of the good old days. It seems impossible to me to assess it globally, because our field is largely mastered by personalization – graphic design is created in the relationship between the creator, the client, the wearer, the recipient and the final intention. You can map trends, but when they are described, antitrends are automatically created.

So is it better to break stereotypes?

A typical creative stereotype is that everything has to be new, original. But if you want to promote sustainability, then novelty at all costs seems like an outdated concept from the last decade. At the time, nothing seemed impossible, borders were crossed and prejudices mounted. Today, inspiration benefits from both stereotypes and their rejection. Therefore, it is better to pay more attention to the environment in which graphics are created, operated or earned money.

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Do you remember an interesting story related to the creation of a logo?

I love NY by Milton Glaser, the most copied logo in the world, was sketched in a taxi. Or the Apple logo, the ordinary job of a young graphic designer in an ordinary agency that Steve Jobs came to during one of his fruit diets. The Nike logo in its original form isn’t much, and founder Phil Knight didn’t like it either, but he had no choice but to say, “I don’t like it, but maybe it will grow on me.” are sold today with this original sketch for millions of dollars. My work and my reputation also grow with the companies I have worked for. The logos themselves do not say anything, they are only a label to which we relate. This gives rise to a story that fits the era in which it is told.

Are there differences in visual communication globally?

Technology has brought many things together, but there are differences. It should not be created solely by the borders of state, nationality or cultural origin, it can also be the maturity of the market and the media. Trends have spread very quickly on the Internet, but if and how they succeed, the graphic designer no longer decides. But when a global group, large cultural companies or, for example, small hair salons take over, a visual language becomes typical of a given segment in two or three years.

Which logo are you most proud of designing?

There are three logos that have moved me a lot in my career. The first was the victory in the competition for the logo of the University Tomas Bata (2000), then the modification of the logo of Česká pojišťovna (2011-2019) and Czech scouts (2016). Rather than the logos themselves, I’m proud of how I overcame these challenges. Their appearance is the result of many circumstances that I was not the only one to influence.

What awaits you in terms of work in the coming months and what do you live on?

Enough will happen this year. I have a pre-arranged job practically until the fall. We will see how many of these new logos. But one project stands out: I’ve been working for two years with Behavio Labs researchers on Brand Symbols – inspirational maps that help brands find out what they’re working on and who they could work with. So it’s not just the logo that sets them apart.

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