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Ask MPR Mailbag

August 10, 2006

What does your logo mean?

Hi there. I'm a member with a question. What does your new logo (with the colored circles) symbolize? A few of us have been trying to figure out if it is places on a map or maybe the negative space means something.

Minneapolis, MN

Hello Patricia, back when I started here at MPR we had a very simple radio-wave logo that was pretty easy to understand. As I recall, there were some technical headaches associated with it (it was difficult to reproduce in print under some circumstances) and eventually the decision was made to replace it.

Our next logo was two radio waves traveling in opposite directions, symbolizing a sort of two-way communication, and at the same time looking a bit like ripples in a pond. It was still evoking something concrete, but in perhaps a more stylistic way.

When American Public Media, our national production and distribution arm, was launched a couple of years ago its new logo was a fairly abstract arrangement of multi-colored circles. At that time it was decided that Minnesota Public Radio's logo should be changed to complement the APM logo.

In fact, the APM and MPR logos are identical, save for the text and the color scheme of the circles.

When our new logo was unveiled, I asked our marketing director what it "meant". He got a faraway look in his eyes and talked about color and the use of light and space. In the end he admitted that it wasn't supposed to "mean" anything, but he added brightly that perhaps individuals could have fun affixing their own meanings to the logo.

That didn't sound like much fun to me, so I never passed the suggestion along to anyone. However, I do think it's a pretty smart-looking logo. And after a couple of years of staring at it I've decided that it's a fairly abstract representation of connectivity: it evokes cities on a map, sets and subsets, degrees of separation, and the sort of playful creativity that can be inspired by a visual thesaurus.

Michael Popham
Minnesota Public Radio Member Listener Services