Symbol Book Review and Giveaway

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Update: Giveaway Winners Announced

Congratulations Bill S Kenney, Keri Thornton, and Matt Yow — a copy of Symbol will be on its way to you shortly.

If you lucked out this time, don’t despair. We’ll be giving away a copy of the limited-run, Codex magazine next week.
Stay tuned!


During our move from Australia to London, one unfortunate casualty was our collection of design books. Being heavy, and therefore too expensive to ship, they now sit in storage, gathering dust until we return sometime in the future.

Now that we have finally settled into our new studio in London, I have the pleasure of starting a new book collection.

To kick-start the collection, my first purchase was the new book, Symbol by Angus Hyland and Steven Bateman.

Please read on for a brief review of Symbol, and to find out how you can win yourself a copy.



From the preface: “The idea behind the book is to explore the visual language of symbols according to its most basic element: form.”

To achieve this, the authors have compiled 1300+ symbols from all over the world, from different times and purposes, and have categorised them simply by visual type — abstract and representational. Within those categories they have broken the symbols down into smaller subsets, for example; circles, polygons, trees, architecture, etc. The aim being to strip the symbols of their associated meanings, so that the viewer can assess the “effectiveness of their composition.”


The book starts with a 5 page introduction, giving some background on the meaning of different symbols, and also the role they play in branding and corporate identity. It’s very informative, but reads a little too much like a text book for my liking. It could just be that I have a short attention span, so don’t let that deter you too much.

The introduction does contain a brilliant quote by Alan Fletcher (Reuters and Victoria and Albert Museum identity designer):

Commercial symbols are like people. Some are reasonably put together  but lack personality, others are aggressive, or pompous, or merely unpleasant. Occasionally one encounters an interesting character. Whatever the case, to be effective, a trademark must meet a set of criteria: the utilitarian values of being relevant, appropriate and practical and the intangible qualities of being memorable and distinctive; and that something extra, the visual tweak which creates a unique personality.

Wise words, from a very wise man.



The layout of the book is excellent – it’s a visual delight actually. Simple, clean and straight to the point.


Punctuating each subsection of the book is a brief case study, which provides a more in-depth look at how a particular symbol came to be.

Case studies include: Transport for London (above), Deutsche Bank (above), Continental Airlines, Nike, Munich Olympics (below), Apple, Shell, and CBS, just to name a few.


As the symbols have been disassociated from their meaning, it challenges the reader to interpret each symbol for what it is. It makes you think, which is something that I particularly enjoyed.

Each symbol is also indexed by a number, referencing basic information such as: designer, country, year created and a brief description.



Overall, Symbol is an excellent book that I can highly recommend for anyone interested in brand identity design.

It’s comprehensive, informative, and is a book that you will go back to over the years for inspiration.

A worthy addtion to any designers library.

In conclusion, buy it.

Symbol Book Giveaway

I loved this book so much that I have decided to give away 3 copies to our readers.

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment below and retweet this post.

Also, if you haven’t already, please also sign up for free updates via email/RSS, and Like Logobird on Facebook.

Winners will be announced next Friday, 17th June 2011.

Good luck!

  • Wow! Great book! I would love to have it.

  • I want it!
    So I’ll get really better at my logo design!

  • Would love to win that…..I am in 🙂

  • wow this looks like an AMAZING book… definitely on my wishlist! 🙂

  • I’ve been wanting this one for a while – Looks pretty similar to ‘Logo’

  • well, this is a totally great book and i will be proud of having one in my library.
    can’t tell how inspiring it can be for me!

  • been looking for a new logo book and maybe this is it!

  • I want this!

  • A must have for sure.

  • Looks epic.


  • Wow, That’s a great book, I’ve meant to look for it for a while and just saw this tweeted!! I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

  • Looks awesome!

  • **fingers crossed**

  • Looks interesting, and comprehensive. Munich Olympics identity is a WIN 🙂

  • Heidi Gunvaldson

    Looks like an amazing book! I’m a collector myself and always on the prowl for a good resource in my library.

  • Looks great! I’ll enter for a chance to win a copy! Thanks!

  • If I don’t win one, I’m going to buy one, looks like an immensly great resource for everything Symbol.

  • Anonymous

    Amazing!! I hope I can win it 🙂

  • I’ve been after this book for a while!

  • Gimmie gimmie gimmie!!

  • Hey, this looks awesome, great review.  Would definitely enjoy the read.

  • This is beautiful!

  • Lance

    beautiful book!

  • Inspiring.

  • Nice review! I’m definitely adding this to my summer reading list, and I might be lucky enough to win a free copy!

  • Would be great to have this book.

  • Amazing! This books is a must-have,  I wish I can win a copy.
    And Congrats in advance for the winners. 🙂

  • awesome!

  • That looks gorgeous. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  • As I mentioned in the retweet I would love to win because my school just doesn’t have decent books, and I trust you if say it’s great:))

  • Been waiting to get my hands on this one! Looks very inspiring!

  • Cory Ottenwess

    this look amazing! i would love a copy!

  • I would love to add this to my library. If I am fortunate enough for you pick me, I won’t be mad at all.

  • I’m in love with this book and would love to have it!!

  • Looks stunning! I’d love to have one!

  • Great book, would love to own a copy. Good luck everyone!

  • Oh, mylanta! I would love to win this!

  • I totally want one!!!!

  • amazed by the book, if I don’t win a copy I am buying it!

  • Mighty fine looking book. Would love to win a copy… 🙂

  • inspired by just a simple scroll. pick me! 🙂

  • Great to see this collection of Marks. Glad to see Morvil Advertising + Design representing.

  • Great to see this collection of marks finally out. Glad to see Morvil Advertising + Design representing.

  • Most logo books as of late are too caught up with passing trends, but this looks very promising – thanks for the review!

  • This book looks amazing! Count me in!

  • Oh my. I will likely be buying this book in the likely event that I don’t win.

  • looks good

  • Want.

  • Ciro William Iuliano

    Looks like an absolute gem of a book, a graphical reference to complement a serious collection.

  • Anything Pentagram is bound to be excellent. I caught wind of “Symbol” a few days ago and have been eager to get a copy; your review solidified the need for it to be in this student’s library!

  • Incredible! …I am quite the Angus Hyland fan!

    Shame about your shipping problem, I had the same problem when I visited Strand bookstore in NY!

  • Good to hear that your cross country move went well and you’re ready to go in your new office! Thank you so much for sharing your books with us 🙂 Have fun gathering your new collection!

  • Looks amazing! This goes on my list to buy at Book Depository. Thnx for the review!

  • Kyle Read

    This looks super thorough, I’m eager to get my hands on it!

  • Anonymous

    Would be great to receive a copy of this. Looks amazing!

  • I’ve seen this book reviewed by a few other designers whose opinions I respect, which makes me think I should get a copy for me-self…

  • Really nice looking book; seems like the sort you could pick up at any random page and get something out of.

  • Looks like an excellent book, fantastic quote as well – hopefully it will be in my university library when I return – and if lucky, mine!

  • This looks great, will have to get myself a copy soon unless I’m one of the lucky sods who wins a copy 🙂

  • Looks great, count me in

  • Great little review for a fantastic looking book!! Instantly added to my wishlist!!

  • tako

    Looks like it will have a lot of great info inside. A must have!
    I RTed it on my Twitter

  • AVKreative

    Yes, would love, love a copy!!

  • Great giveaway, good luck to everyone!

  • I would love this, more than anyone else.

    Honest. I love you.

  • i’d definitely love one. duh doi!

  • Looks fantastic

  • Sounds like an awesome book. Would definitely love a copy!!!!

  • If I don’t win, I will be purchasing! 

  • Read great reviews on the book… Would be cool to get it for a personal estimate, though I bet it’s a real must have for any graphic designer…

  • Looks amazing! I wish I had this book

  • Such an awesome book. 
    Had about 4 people recommend I purchase it.. be nice to win one though hint hint.

  • giddyup.

  • Have only just started my own collection.
    Lucky for you there are plenty of good bookstores in London.
    Try not to spend too much 😉

  • Definitely WANT! Will be great next to Michael Evamy’s Logo Book.

  • Oooh! Definitely need a copy!

  • I was curious abou this book. Thanks for the review.

  • Nicola Black

    Looks incredible! Would love to add it to my collection!

  • Laurence King is one of my very favorite graphic books publisher. (The other one is lovely Die Gestalten Verlag of Germany) I have the Logo book of LK, and pretty excited to have a Symbol one, especially if it is a giveaway one 😉 Thank you for this opportunity Logobird!

  • Hugo

    I like it, you can’t have to many logo books…
    I will make some space in my bookcase
    (O yes, I WANT THAT COPY!!!!!!    :-O

  • Great looking resource for getting those creative juices flowing. Can be quite hard to find this type of book in NZ…

  • Dan Ensor

    Looks like a great book, would love to win a copy!

  • The book looks lovely, certainly going on my wantlist. My only comment would be that whilst getting people to retweet the post is a great idea, asking that they comment as well in order to win a copy means your replies are mostly filled with spammy vacuous posts. It makes finding the meaningful comments that much harder.

  • You can always rely on  Laurence King Publishing to produce fine books and this is no exception. And a great review from Logobird, as awlays.

  • Wonderful piece! I’d love to have one!

  • Anonymous

    This book looks amazing! “Commercial symbols are like people. Some are reasonably put together but lack personality, others are aggressive, or pompous, or merely

  • Bryan Hintz

    great post.

  • SWEET! Just what I’ve been looking for. This is a good addition to anyone’s design quiver.

  • Sweet!

  • I think I love this book!

  • A great idea! I love books like this!

  • kb_design

    I would LOVE a copy of this book! Please enter me in the giveaway!

  • Benjamin Gaydos

    This Book looks mighty fine. I would love to have one I could call mine.

  • Christopher Magruder

    I’d love to add this one to my collection.

  • Olgalucia

    I love this book! Really hope I could win it! I am from Colombia SouthAmerica! And I follow u guys daily!!!

  • matt_yow

    This book sounds like an awesome addition to anyone’s design library.

  • Robin Clegg

     Looks like an indispensable book for any designer. I would love to have a copy!

  • Great book for inspiration for every designer a must have!! 

  • Looks like an excellent resource to have in the library.

  • If I don’t win one, I’ll def invest in one!

  • It woud be absolutely GREAT to have this in the library!! – thanks for the opportunity to win one, it is much appreciated. 🙂

    Kind regards


  • Anonymous

    Would love to win.

  • Jessica

    I would love to win this book!! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  • Jorge Calleja

    me wants 🙂

  • Wow I would love this book! I want to build a great branding library, it’s just getting all the right books is tough hehe.

  • Steve

    Looks like a brilliant book. Good luck to everyone.

  • Great giveaway  Duane. It is always nice to have a good and informative book to read 🙂

  • Me loves design books.

  • Me loves design books.

  • Thank you for the opportunity to win this great book! I wish you a great start in London!

  • Anonymous

    Looks great Duane – very much like Logo by Michael Evamy! Good stuff. Would love to win a copy!

  • Franco Averta

    Awesome! I was a bout to buy the book but I may get lucky!. Thanks!!!

  • This is awesome! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of such a great book 🙂

  • Being aware of brand identity design in a more than superficial manner is very important for apparel decorators, in my mind. Though we may often be called upon to reproduce what a designer has created, the need to interpret those designs into our media requires us to tease out the essence of what can and can’t be changed in any given design. I’d love to read this book to expand my own insights.

  • A Great addition to anyone’s inspiration library and collection.  Would love to add it to mine.

    Tweet will be done under  @SDX_media handle.

  • This is on my wishlist. Make it happen 🙂

  • Had my eye on this book! Mr Hyland is a legend. Fingers crossed.

  • Hope this is a sign (pardon the pun)  – would sit very happily next to my copy of ‘logo’

  • The book looks like a feast for lovers of visual language…

  • symbol would sit very comfortaby with its sister publication ‘logo’ on my bookshelf!

  • Alok Gavhane

    This is just gr8. I hope “Symbol” is available in Indian market too, otherwise wining a copy is the only option. Would love to have it in my collection. 

  • Robin Narayan

    This is a fascinating complilation of the iconic, day to day and inspiring Logos. A superb publication

  • Sera Holland

    i would <3 a copy of this book to have @ home to * in my collection & inspire me daily : )

    (there are only so many symbols on a keyboard!)

  • Anonymous

    Just another great title to have in your collection for sure. As I am about to begin my pHd in creative cultures and semiotics, it will surely be a kick start on my research!

  • I really admire that you made the big move from Australia to London. What an awesome experience. Good luck and have fun exploring the book sores for your new collection. 

  • Want.Need. Added to wish list, but free is always best. Thanks for post.

  • A Lobby Vent Database, Snugly Men Hymns

  • A Lobby Vent Database, Snugly Men Hymns

  • 4D

    Looks like a really informative and inspirational book. Thanks for doing this.

  • I’m mad for it! I think it’s a great book to learn much about logos, I loved how Hyland explained the logos in the cnference, I can’t imagine how inspiring could be the book!!!! #symboltalk

  • I hear from a friend that one or more of my marks are in this book. I hope I win a copy so I can find out!

  • Kirsty Curnow

    logobird people – u are too awesome for words. thanks always for your awesomeness.

  • As someone who is doing more and more logos lately, this would be an invaluable inspiration and reference tool!

  • How can I lose? Comment – check. Retweet – check. 

  • I have been required to do focus more on identity and branding for the good part of this year. This book looks wonderful, with detailed information. I would love to own this book.

  • Very cool book, would be perfect for my inspiration shelf!

  • Beckycouto

    Wow! I love it!! *_* So, I can’t find it here in Spain… Will I be the lucky girl? <3

  • Man… i just got to know this! I want it!!!

  • Thomas Dixneuf

    I work often on brand for clients and my company and it’s not always
    easy to do it. This book could be a great help for inspiration, learn
    different methods of work and analyse

    That’s nice to organize this game for give away “Symbol” ! Thanks ! (and more thanks if i win :p )

  • Joce

    Thanks Duane & Natalie… sound like a great book for my collection. I am a logo lover. Hope I win it 🙂

  •  I practically smell the fresh smell of ink on paper from here. It’s so pretty and, so full of awesomeness.

  • Lee Wai Kiu

    I have read this book before and I found it very cool!

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