Europa-Jugendtag 2009

Neuapostolische Kirche - 21. bis 24. Mai 2009 in Düsseldorf

Report added 06/04/2007

A talk with Ralf Heller - designer of the EYD-logo

A cross in orange colour that seems to tower up in the sky – that is the logo of the European Youth Day 2009. Sometimes it is shown with a hint of the date on which the mega-event will take place, sometimes with the subtitle „New Apostolic Church“ so that outsiders see who is behind the EYD. The easy-to-remember kind of logo was sketched and developed by designer Ralf Heller. A talk with him about crosses, circles and shopping centres.

How did you get the idea for the EYD logo? By intensive pondering about it or was there a spontanious inspiration?

Ralf Heller: Seldomly you get a complete logo from a spontanious idea, it is much more a development and work out of various starting ideas. For the EYD-logo I tried to start off with a few basic ideas about it’s content and only after that I conversed that into graphic. For example, I wanted to follow the basic idea of a logo and wanted to renounce on any writing. And I also wanted to renounce on the cross as symbol. But these two thoughts together didn’t work. I did need an idea that combined the themes Europe, youth and church and by that I got the idea to find something that should show a connection – a connection between the here and now, means our world, and heaven, in which way ever one would like to imagine it. And this principle thought you find now in our logo: the cross – which I did accept at the end as there is no other way to symbolize Jesus Christ - it isn’t shown symmetric and straight but slightly slanting so the impression of a prospective comes through. Because this is what it is all about: the view up towards heaven, the connection to above.

To symbolize Europe is much more difficult. Just graphically, as a map, doesn’t work. For two reasons I finally decided to use circles which provide a kind of frame for the coss: on the one side I wanted to portray the „European Community“. Not the globe was to symbolize but only a circle of people. For that the circles are not closed: at the top the cross breaks the lines whereas they are asymmetrically opened at the bottom. The second thought about these circles is the sublimity of the cross which I wanted to underline with that.

That at the end I couldn’t renounce on any writing, was because one cannot symbolize a date nor a slogan – which however was a requirement in the briefing. Because of this I finally let the writing ‚run’ over the logo as a disturbance. When searching for a suitable fount for the logo I quickly came to the fount „Angel“ by which that Dennish fount-designer created one of my most favorite founts. The name „Angel“is a nice coincidence for this project.

Did the corporate design of the New Apostolic Church, especially the logo, play any role in your reflections?

Yes, at the beginning. Because one wants to persuade of course one’s clients. But then I quickly realized there were only two options: either I would just adopt the NAC-logo for the EYD or I create something fully different. I asked myself, how I would see it as a youngster. I thought, I wouldn’t want to see the known corporate logo just in a different colour or together with an additional logo. That would just be too boring for me. As a consequence I found it appropriate to create something different, something cheerful, something joyful. And by that we come to the point of the colour. I wanted to have that orange, as it got that signal effect on the one side and on the other side it transports exactly this kind of positive feelings.

But still, also blue appears in the logo – is it to provided an association to the NAC?

Yes, but I didn’t use that blue to invent a reference to the church. It might be nice to put it this way now, but it wasn’t like that. I took that blue, because for me this colour has got something to do with life. Water is life. From that I got the idea of this blue.

Principally, what makes the difference between a good and a bad logo?

Everything, that refers to optical perception is of course a matter of taste. And the aesthetic encountering of a person is not only a matter of the single person, as cultural and social conventions do have their influence. A good logo-designer would always bear this in mind.
A logo should always provide a few essential tasks: a logo must fulfil the function for what it is created, respectively it must transport the message, be easy-to-remember, differ from other logos - and by all that it is always something unique.

I personally like it, when logos are not necessarily totally understandable at first sight. I find it thrilling if one can discover something by the second look only. And, of course, logos that irritate the eye by its design, are just fabulous.

A logo is not a word and not a text and because of that it should have no writing. This was not possible for the EYD-logo, just because too much information was to be transported with it. But it would function very well without the writing, if slogan, date and further information, that basically have no correlation with it, would be left aside. The logo would work and would transport something. It would be a symbol for an alive, sublime and cheerful event of a community of Christians. What cannot be expressed without writing is, very clearly, convey church- or theme-related content. But it is not meant to do that anyway.

Is there a known logo that you admire especially?

I would think of the logo of the Deutsche Bank. Very ‚reduced’, clear and simple. A diagonal line that stands for growth or positive development. And not to forget, that wonderful TUI-logo, which doesn’t require any further comments.

Less genious appears often, what one encounters when strolling along the many shopping centres in this republic. The logos of many shops seem to be selfmade on the home-computer and printed out then by the copy-shop around the corner. Not to mention the wrong German spelling. Do such impressions give you any pain as professional designer?

It is nice, anyone can be creative and it is so handy to use one’s own skills for the own shop or business. But this created a kind of trouble for the design industry: often customers do not value the professional service. There are just too many people who offer their alledgedly professional service at dumping-prices - and too many customers who are satisfied with what they get. Luckily however, creative work is not only about graphic or design but it’s about ideas. And finally, good ideas always persuade at the end.

Ralf Heller (32), as "DerSetzer" the Managing Director of the Kreativ-Agentur Nuisol & Nuilani in Offenbach at the river Main, dedicates himself apart from the classic advertisement business and the development of corporate identities most of all to the online-business, screen design und conceptioning for websites and internet portals.

Text: Thorsten Gabriel