How and when to use HTML5 features.
The Eight-pointed Cross Epidemic
The USE and ABUSE of the EIGHT-POINTED CROSS in MALTESE LOGO DESIGN.
On my way out of the local hospital after visiting a relative of mine, I couldn’t help but notice their logo. I was struck by the inconsistencies in type from one logo to the next in a span of a few metres. Arial was the culprit – big, bold and blue, stuck on the glass pane of the entrance door. At a closer look I spotted something else. A minuscule version of the so clichéd, overused “Maltese cross”, placed within two more interwoven Greek crosses – symbolising health care I’m assuming.
A few months later, MaltaPost announced their rebranding and there, the eight-pointed cross appears again.
Judging by Maltese logos, adding an eight-pointed cross has become an easy solution in an effort to show that the organisation is Maltese. In most of the cases, it looks very clear that the addition of this design element is not actually based on any fundamental design decisions, but rather gives the impression that these were just thrown into the design to give it a “Maltese feel” without taking into consideration the consequences and the effects this has on the overall design. Below, I look at some of Malta’s major institutions that use the eight-pointed cross in their logo and explain why I am under this impression.
MaltaPost’s decision to go back to their original black and red colours was to align their brand with their post boxes found across Malta and Gozo. Sounds fair, considering how iconic these post boxes have become. I’m not sure where the eight-pointed cross comes in though. Does it make the logo more Maltese than the word “Malta” already does? Judging by the size of the two, I doubt it. In this case, the cross is giving nothing but noise and clutter to the design. It looks very clear that the cross was placed there as an afterthought and of course the circular negative space within the horn was a good spot to target. A rule for good logo design is simplicity. A logo needs to be memorable for it to work.
Another rule for good logo design is that it needs to work at different sizes. Definitely not the case with the Mater Dei logo. Once scaled down to small sizes, the eight-pointed cross is lost and can no longer be identified but instead is just adding visual noise to the whole design without adding anything of value to it.
Malta Tourism Authority
If you want to choose an iconic graphic to complement your logotype, choose one but not two. Using two will only make the logo more difficult to remember since you’re adding more information for the viewer to absorb. Once you choose the element you want to keep in your logo, make sure that it feels as if it’s part of the whole design and not like a foreign object placed by mistake. Look at the small details, the typography, the style and the feel of the design.
This is a very clear case of “throwing it in”. Not only that, but the cross suffered an identity crisis after being skewed to match with the passé swoosh element in the logo.
Airmalta’s original logo design was a great example of using a cross within a logo. The same design was even honoured a mention in
Looking at these logos, one can’t fail to notice that they lack originality in their concept and the way the design problem was tackled. Is Malta just about an eight-pointed cross? A quick search on Flickr and Google images reveals otherwise.
Kenneth Cachia couldn’t have timed his new website launch better, as he uploaded one of his designs which features the eight-pointed cross just today. Kenneth managed to find a brilliant solution for MaltaGuide’s logo while still using the cross. The cross serves as an iconic image which doubles as a compass pointer while still retaining simplicity. This shows that by leading the design with an iconic image rather than placing it just for the sake of having it, one still can achieve great results.
It is also worth mentioning that this is only a small selection of logos which boast the eight-pointed cross. Other logos include those of clubs, non-profit organisations and small to medium-sized businesses, which are too many to mention in this post.
As a designer, I can understand that many a time these decisions are client-driven rather than being the designer’s own initiative – we’ve all been in that situation before.
However, as designers, it is also our job to educate the client. It is our job to prove our effort in creating, and why hiring a designer is better than asking their 15 year old nephew with a copy of Adobe Illustrator to design their logo. There are rules and guidelines in design which we need to adhere to and break away from when necessary. If we ignore these rules and guidelines completely, we can’t do any better than that 15 year old kid.