|The new SPR logo|
Eagle-eyed followers of the Society for Psychical Research’s Facebook page and Twitter feed will have spotted that the logo adorning the top of each has changed, though not by much. The previously shaded psi symbol is now entirely black and sporting a broader foot, the typeface used for the name is slightly thinner and upper case, and the ‘SPR’ abbreviation at the bottom of the ring has been replaced by Est. 1882, an improvement as the initials are redundant and the date reinforces the longevity of the Society. These are fairly cosmetic changes, but it was decided the logo needed to be refreshed as the old version was looking dated. The replacement will be rolled out on the website and print publications in due course.
The old one had been in use since 1990, when I co-designed it with Bernard Carr. The then SPR Publicity Committee, which Bernard chaired, held a competition among the membership to choose a logo. This was announced in the SPR Newsletter, No. 30, July 1989, p. 20.* The judging process was protracted, and the winner was not announced until the October 1990 issue, No. 35, p. 29. Bernard introduced the design by saying the Committee had received nearly 40 entries (some half-a-dozen of which must have been mine) and that ten had been selected as a shortlist for a Council decision. One of these was my double ring with lettering, to which Bernard had added the psi symbol.
Once a single design had been selected, on which there was ‘surprising agreement’ as Bernard put it, a number of variants were drawn up, with the chosen version looking similar but not identical to the one that has been in use for many years – the original had sans serif lettering of slightly different dimensions, and the shading was not quite the same. Bernard continued by saying, somewhat disparagingly, ‘It is obviously very traditional – and not as modern or as imaginative as some of the other suggestions – but its conservatism is perhaps a fair reflection of the nature of the society and it does at least convey the essential message!’
|The old SPR logo|
He concluded: ‘The closest approximation to the final logo was suggested by Tom Ruffles. Rather embarrassingly, he is also on the Publicity Committee, which adjudicated the competition. We therefore decided to award the prize (a book token) to Maurice Grosse, who besides making several suggestions of his own, also helped by drawing up proper versions of the short-listed entries.’
On the whole the logo has served the Society well as part of its image, and it seems popular; so much that the Dutch SPR use it on their Twitter feed as well. Whether the new version will generate the same degree of affection, or adoption by other organisations, remains to be seen. The new psi symbol could be considered as rather heavy, even stodgy, whereas the old ‘3D’ one had a lightness chiming with the image of psychical research, but shading does seem dated and the new version will soon become familiar. For all its ‘conservatism’ I’m pleased that what is essentially the same logo has been in use for over a quarter of a century, with a few more years in front of it, which in this fast-moving image-conscious world is no mean feat.
*The old Newsletter, which preceded first The Psi Researcher and then the Paranormal Review, ran from February 1981 to January 1991, edited for nearly all that period by Dr Susan Blackmore. For some reason while the later two publications are in the Lexscien online library of SPR publications, the SPR Newsletter isn’t.