why not associates is a British graphic design firm established two decades ago. Here’s a quick taste of their identity work.

London Arts logo
For the arts funding organisation.

London Arts logo

London Arts logo

London Arts logo

The Reel logo
For xtreme information’s media resource service showcasing commercials and promos.

The Reel logo

The Reel logo

The Reel logo

futurelab logo
For the Bristol-based non-profit organisation.

Futurelab logo

Futurelab logo

Futurelab logo

ENVY logo
For the London-based post production facility.

envy logo

envy logo

envy logo

View more projects on the why not website.

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January 8, 2009


HUGE fan of the Reel identity. The logo doesn’t communicate too loudly if I’m honest, but I love how they make it work throughout the whole spectrum of applications.

Simple ideas work.

And colour rocks my world.

I second the WOW from Jacob. I enjoy seeing the variations in size throughout the circles in LA… it gives it movement and a sense of ‘popping’ out. The Reel is a strong image on its own also. Nice post David.

hmmm. What do you (David and you readers) think, how recognizable and/or self-explanatory should a logo be?

I’m talking about “The Reel” logo in particular. While I certainly agree it is a good design, I don’t think it is great.
And on the stationary, sometimes it is almost invisible (e.g. 2nd from left) and other times it is smack in your face (e.g. black on bright yellow). That doesn’t say diversity to me, it says inconsistency.

Then again, imho they overuse the symbol on the website. Doesn’t this devalue a logo?

Please excuse my ignorance. I’m a novice.

Is this a joke? I know there are plenty of designers who read this post and disagree with the popular opinion but are afraid to say anything because others seem to be loving it (suspiciously some of the comments show their love for these a little way too much).

I will admit that the usage of the logos are well executed, but the logo design themselves are all horrible. Imagine yourself being a professor and students hand these corporate identities in to you. Unless you are bias toward the students, you cannot in good conscious give more than 65 out of 100 for any of them.

Look to the right side, the links to the previous posts such as The 30 favorites, or the 15 Wonderfully Simple logo designs. And try to put these logos among them. They will be spotted right away as bad logos. Bad is too vague, how about, lazy and irrelevant. Fail to communicate effectively in anyway, unoriginal, and extremely unbalanced.

I can even review each logo one by one, and I will only be using basic design principle to criticize too. But I have a feeling I will get flame for this so I will stop here.

Some good points raised here!!

Thinking about it, as much as I like the Reel identity I don’t actually like it because of the logo. I’m sucked in by the bold simplicity of it and its use across a colour palette, not necessarily whether or not it does its job very well.

Which begs a question, can good application really save a weak logo?

I think yes when considering logos that don’t really shout the point across. As I initially said, I don’t think the Reel logo communicates what they are very well, but the clean, simple, colourful application formula lifts it.

Although the blanking bombing approach of a wide colour palette can often be used to disguise a thin initial idea.

Fantastic! Particularly London Arts and ENVY.

I love the simplicity, but primarily that they work well in use, too many logos look great in isolation but just donut work in use.


For me, it’s most definitely the contextual images that make these designs special. Logos in isolation are rarely as strong.


How recognisable the logos are is important. Good question. The industry behind each company is also relevant. For instance, whilst The Reel icon may be viewed as generic, is there a competitor with the same identity?


All opinions are appreciated. Providing discussions are kept civil, I welcome your input.

Thanks very much to everyone who commented.

To achieve such strong and recognisable logos consistently is amazing. Good article, and as I am writing I have noticed the crucial web hosting logo in the bottom corner of the page, it seems there is no escaping good logo design on this site.

These don’t do much for me. Well, the London Arts one is OK. It’s visually clever but I don’t know how it reflects the organization that it’s representing. It just leaves me wondering if they specialize in Braille art or something.

The Reel logo… awful. The circle looks like the letter “o” to me. At first I wondered if the company was called “O, the Reel!” But “o” isn’t part of the name at all, so why is it in there? Then I wondered if they have anything to do with iPods. And finally, I thought, OK, it’s just pure laziness. It doesn’t matter how much time they actually spent designing the logo, the average person is going to think they spent 10 seconds on it because it’s just a circle and some words. Lazy logo means lazy company.

The futurelab logo is OK, but the font doesn’t seem very futuristic. Not that it has to be. But then it really doesn’t make sense to go the other way. Labs shouldn’t be thought of as old-fashioned, right? And what’s with the circles? Are they supposed to be molecules? I guess that’s clever. Or are they just arbitrary circles arbitrarily mobbing the “e”?

The Envy logo. Hm. Sparseness doesn’t represent something I’d envy. Oh wait, I see “NY” in there. Are they based in New York? Cool! No, they’re based in London. Aww.

These are raw simplicity at it’s best. I love the style and the applications of the all of the logos except futurelab. I thought that one was just “ok”.

I always thought and still think that the icon part of a logo should be able to stand on its own i.e. should be recognizable and identifiable even without the wordmark.

Now someone please tell me how’s that possible with the Reel logo ?

The icon itself is just a circle.Does anyone really think the circle on its own would be identifiable at all ?!

Seems the “but it looks great in the greater context of the identity program” is the latest excuse for lazy work and absent ideas, see NY Phiharmonic, London 2012 etc.

Sorry but there still are situations where a logo has to work in “unfriendly” environments and that’s why “old” rules (has to work in b/w, must be able to stand on its own etc) still apply when it comes to logo principles no matter how 2.0 our world is turning.


It’s interesting that you think an icon must be able to stand-alone. I’m not of the same opinion, but I don’t profess to have your experience in the field.

Regardless, thanks to you, Steve, idiotica, Jared and Fred for your differing opinions. Always healthy.

With the ENVY logo, I really see how well it fits with a ‘post production company’. I’m assuming fence posts and not something else I’m unaware of. All these logos are great however.

The London Arts and Reel logos work off of associations too etched in my mind to stand for something else, less known.

With the standout “LA” I am reminded of Los Angeles, and the circle for the Reel of the thick circle on an ipod. While ipod is with Apple, the standout look of an ipod is that circle controller.

Really liking the square that the ENVY text creates. I like the FutureLab logo up close, but from a distance only the two blue circles stand out to me, but not their differing blues, and the yellow is sort of hidden like a stain. I like the circles clustered, but perhaps a manipulation of colors would represent from a distance the appeal that is actually there.

You know what I like about you David? You have a humility sadly lacking these days. I like your views and your style of putting them over.
Now logo’s, and I hate the term, are often unnecessary.
When discussing a company and its properties the logo isnt visable. Its like music… fleeting.
To brand a logo takes years and often becomes outdated and needs revamping ( good for those who make a living out of logo design) . I’m a believer in the name itself being created and designed and supporting , good corporate governance.
Thanks again for a wonderful contribution to the design business. I hope you are making a fortune.
Take good care
The Baldchemist

That’s very kind of you, Ray (The Baldchemist).

Making my fortune is on hold for now, whilst I focus on writing a book, but maybe someday. I’m living comfortably, with family close-by and in scenic surroundings, so I certainly can’t complain.

I hope you’re having a good weekend.

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