(Image comes from http://www.insideoutmedia.net/logos.html)
An interesting query from H-ASIA:
Dear H-ASIA fellow members:
An acquaintance is working on a project. Since it is internet-based, and he is naturally concerned that it have a positive image worldwide, he would like to know if the abstract logo... actually means anything in, say, Japanese, Chinese, Korean. He would be thankful to know if it has any meanings or could infer anything that may have an adverse effect on the international image.
Any comments please?
I find this request to be very enlightened. When working with logos, abstract or otherwise, it is always a good idea to figure out what kinds of meanings they might evoke. Recall the problems that occurred when the Chicago Cubs in an advertising campaign used the image of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy flag in the background of a photo of their new player Kosuke Fukudome. Simple research into the problematic use of such a symbol could have prevented offending American war veterans and Japanese peace-niks.
I offer some possible ideas about the above logo from the Japanese context.
Does it resemble the kanji character, 古 (which generally means old)?
Does it resemble the mask of sentai ("Power Ranger") characters or Ultraman characters?
(Sentai characters image borrowed from http://www.jasonchuang.com/rangers04.html)
(Ultraman characters images borrowed from Shahizan Homepage)
Does the logo resemble or remind one of the masks worn by professional wrestlers and/or professional wrestlers-turned-politicians?
(Image borrowed from Japan Probe; the Great Sasuke became a member of the Iwate Prefectural Assembly in 2003 and later ran for governor - he lost...)
Does the logo resemble or remind of samurai armor? I imagine many of the above examples are based upon samurai armor, but I am hardly a specialist in these areas.
(Image borrowed from http://www.roninswords.com.au/armour-page.htm)
Have I taken this exercise too far? Maybe yes, maybe no. The meaning creation process involved with symbolism is complex. Interpretants (see Peirce) and chains of associations (see Saussure) are rooted both in cultural contexts and individual experiences. So, once again, I applaud the businessperson making this inquiry. Is the information in this post helpful? Are these the kinds of meanings you hope to generate for your business? What do other visual anthropologists have to say about the logo and/or the ideas expressed here?