Logo Rewind: Trademarks of Medieval Norwich
Publisher: UEA Publishing Project
During the 14th–16th centuries, Norwich, England, was a centre of regional and continental trade with products defined by merchants’ marks. These marks were emblems stamped onto goods and carved into the facades, beams and windows of buildings across the city. Each logo had to be different from its competitor and distinguishable by a mostly illiterate population and, as such, are precursors of today’s brand logos.
Norwich's medieval marks are in fact an early example of commercial branding overlooked by contemporary graphic design. This is a practice previously thought not to have begun in earnest until the late 19th century. They are almost entirely unknown by the public, specifically the national and the international design community, and this is a must-have title for those interested in the historic links through visual language between today’s independent traders and their medieval counterparts.
In preparing Logo Rewind, independent designer, researcher and educator, Darren Leader – winner of a silver medal at the European Design Awards and highly commended at the Drum Design Awards in 2022 – has collected and digitally remade over 200 trademarks from Medieval Norwich, together with added biographic detail recorded in the early 1700s by the antiquarian John Kirkpatrick (1687-1728). This is a thrilling exploration of medieval logo design, its influences and symbolism; the occupations of medieval Norwich, its thriving occupations and their trade, via trusted mercantile networks, across England and Europe.
The marks themselves are strikingly modern in feel, the merchants having crafted a visual language based upon angular lines and geometric shapes reminiscent both of 21-Century branding and logo design and the ‘less is more' aesthetic of modernism, sharing an intention to create captivating brand symbols that communicate with the minimum of elements. Many merchants’ marks are still visible across Norwich today - carved above door frames, engraved in stone or rendered in stain glass inside churches and on gravestones to indicate the passing of a merchant - and this book would provide the perfect guide for, among other things, a personal exploration of the city's architectural palimpsest.
Logo Rewind is a deep dive into the visual language of Medieval design. It ensures the preservation of these medieval ‘logos’ and argues for their continued and renewed relevance today while documenting a fascinating history of Norwich’s past as an in-land port; its impact upon the earliest era of commercial branding.
The book includes introductions and essays by big names from the world of design and UEA academics exploring the history of merchants’ marks, logo histories, examples of previous historic preservation and a new collection of digitally remade marks, annotated with their name, occupation, location, and year of identification. It is as an enriching source of inspiration for modern designers and provides a treasure trove for anyone interested in UK history, students of history and design, creatives, and the contemporary design community more broadly, both nationally and internationally.