Nineteenth – the cool case of a logo

This assignment is about branding and logo. The case study is the HTML5 logo and the message it aimed at communicating: HTML5 is not only HTML but also CSS, SVG, and WOFF. In other words, the designers of HTML5 wished to use the name not only as a signifier of one product but as an umbrella name for several different products that developers and designers are likely to use together. As they put it, they wanted to lift HTML5 to represent a web platform. The question is whether I think, this move toward turning HTML5 into an all-encompassing brand was accurate and what would be the reason for the rather negative response to it, as reflected in Louis Lazaris’s article “The HTML5 Logo: What Do You Think?” in Smashing Magazine.

Lazaris argues that while the new logo looks fine to him, the message it is designed to convey is problematic in his eyes. He views it rather offensive to order the other languages into a hierarchy dominated by HTML5. He also adds that not much after the logo was published, “WHATWG Blog published a post entitled “HTML is the new HTML5″, announcing two changes: (1) The HTML specification will be known simply as “HTML” (dropping the “5”); and (2) The spec will be considered a “living standard”, not just a draft, dropping use of the “snapshot” model of development.” By simplifying the HTML brand name and turning it into a standard these steps take the initial mission of the HTML5 logo one step further.

And here I need to add something seemingly irrelevant. The HTML5-story reminds me of many other stories of the Frigidaire-type. The success of the first electronic refrigerator named Frigidaire is often measured by the fact that it is common to call any fridge of any brand frigidaire and not refrigerator. The linguistic turn is interpreted as a testimony to the popularity of the original product and brand. The fridge-story is only one of many other of the kind, and I am wandering if these stories inspired the designers of the HTML5 logo. To be very lame, if the people behind the HTML5 logo thought, what is cool in a fridge can be cool on the screen as well.

I would not be surprised since in a sense, this move reflects how web sites are built around an HTML skeleton. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the flesh and blood that CSS and the other languages bring into the site is equally important. (Every fridge does the same, their looks and technical capacities determine, who would buy them.)

More importantly, however, turning HTML into an umbrella concept contradicts everything I have learned in this course so far. I was repeatedly told that current web design tends toward detaching content and style from each other. That HTML is responsible for the content and organization, while CSS is the language to describe the outlook of the web page, and they should be treated separately even if the end result is the manifestation of their joined effort. Making a platform out of HTML suggests that there is an asymmetric relationship of dependence in between the two tools and thus it points into the opposite direction of thinking about web design. At this stage of my development as a web designer, I refuse to be confused like this. 

By disregarding the intent of the HTML5, I will continue to enjoy sites that present interesting content through novel visual communication.

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