Brands spend billions of dollars to get their visual identities right! In their pursuit of getting that perfect logo, which would aptly describe their brand image, companies and top business houses spend sleepless nights with designers and agencies to ensure every design element perfectly narrates the brand story. From the color palette to the symbol to the choice of letters, all must convey the brand narrative to the tee.
Letters play a key role in fostering brand identity; therefore, a brand must select proper letters and fonts. Letter Z, for example, signifies the end and a new beginning; hence, brands that want to convey childlike joy and exuberance should use “O” and “J” with yellow, orange and white color palettes as opposed to using “Z.”
The letter “N” is used by iconic brands such as Nestle and Netflix to convey progress, creativity and originality. The energy of N changes when used with various color schemes. For example, when used with red, N could signify passion and creativity; Netflix is a prime example. Again, when used with blue, it could portray balance and calmness, just like Nestle.
Apart from big brands using the letter “N” as a part of their visual identity, the alphabet is widely used in multiple fields of study to denote many things.
In physics, the principal quantum number is denoted by “n.” According to an article, “In atoms, there are a total of four quantum numbers: the principal quantum number (n), the orbital angular momentum quantum number (l), the magnetic quantum number (mI), and the electron spin quantum number (ms)…” The “n” describes the probable distance of the electron from the nucleus.
In psychology, N is the abbreviation for numeric ability. Louis L. Thurstone proposed a Primary Mental Abilities Test to gauge a person’s intelligence. The test was based on seven unitary factors, namely verbal ability (V), spatial intelligence (S), numerical ability (N), Memory (M), perpetual speed (P), word fluence (WF), and reasoning (R).
The italic n, in mathematics, denotes a variable quantity in a set of natural numbers. Again, N is used to denote the set of natural numbers.
Letter “N” symbolism
The Egyptian connection
It all started in Egypt with the emergence of the letter “M.” The letter N was created just after M to denote a snake, a cobra in specific. Apart from symbolizing the deadly cobra, the letter N also portrayed the striding posture of Horus—one of the main gods in the Egyptian trinity.
The powerful Horus is regarded as thrice wise or wisdom in action. His right eye is the sun, symbolizing power and energy, and his left eye is the moon, representing creativity, peace and healing.
A brand that is focused on highlighting any of the above qualities through its visual identity can use the letter N.
The Egyptian connection can be seen in the various esoteric teachings found across ancient civilizations. The letter N is closely related to the Egyptian syllable “ing.” “I” represents Horus’ spinal column, “N” represents the striding position, and “G” symbolizes his reproductive organ. Together, the syllable represents the act of creation!
According to various esoteric philosophies of the ancient world, a person can unlock his true potential when he finds perfect harmony through balancing the “ing” within. The act of creation—whether designs or music or arts or science—is the highest manifestation of a person’s abilities.
A brand that wishes to portray its creative abilities and intellect through its branding can choose the letter N.
In logos, the letter N carries an array of meanings. Let us take a quick tour:
- Power: Due to its connection with the Egyptian god Horus, the letter N symbolizes unparalleled power. Brands can use the alphabet to highlight themselves as the top gun of the industry.
- Creativity: As explained above, creativity is considered as the pinnacle of a person’s abilities since it elevates him close to the creator himself.
- Adventure: The diagonal line touching the top and bottom points of two straight parallel lines in the letter N, adds a sense of adventure. Brands that are involved with adventure sports or athletics may use the letter N as a part of their visual identities—Nike is a prime example.
Apart from the above, the letter N can symbolize the following:
- Unconventional Approach
- Out of the box approach
The NBA, the premier basketball league in the world, was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). Following a merger with the National Basketball league in 1949, the BAA was given a new name—the National Basketball League (NBA).
Apart from hosting the most-watched basketball games in the US, the association is involved with addressing global social issues under its NBA Cares programs. The program primarily focuses on “youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes …”
Who is on the NBA logo?
Now, that is a million-dollar question! As the legends have it, the silhouetted figure in the blue and red foreground is none other than Jerry West. However, the association disproves the theory of the image’s association with the legendary basketball player.
The red and blue color palette used in the logo evokes nationalism and patriotism because of its association with the US flag. The figure of a basketball player in the logo is both inspiring and creative.
Founded in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph, Netflix is a US-based over-the-top entertainment platform. After over a decade of DVD sales and rentals, and streaming media, Netflix began its journey as a content producer and distributor of films and television series in 2012. Today, Netflix offers a range of its creation under what it calls the “Netflix Originals.”
Netflix logos are as popular as the “originals” they make. The OTT platform uses two logos: the solitary “N” for its iOS and Android users, and the wordmark for everything else.
Created in 2016, the “N” emblem was not adopted from the wordmark but made from scratch. The letter “N” appears as though a ribbon has folded over itself to form the solitary letter. As for the wordmark currently in use, it is not very different from its earlier counterpart.
A new brand was born after the merger of two companies in 1905, namely the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, founded in 1866, and Farine Lactee Henri Nestle, established in 1867. The new company was named Nestle and focused on manufacturing various products such as baby food, breakfast cereal, medical food, and other daily-use products.
While Nestle, the owner of several iconic brands such as Nescafe, Maggi and Kit Kat, can brag about being one of the top brands in the world, the company has also faced its share of criticism and controversies. The iconic brand has come under the radar several times for allegedly encouraging child labor and marketing its baby foods as an alternative to breastfeeding.
In its 150-year history, Nestle has redesigned its logo over a half-dozen times. However, the central theme of the logo has always remained the same. The main visual element of the iconic logo is the nest with three birds in it. The branches and the oak leaves are distinctly visible, making the emblem one of the most iconic visual identities in the world.
Headquartered in Nishi-Ku, Japan, the Nissan Motor Company Ltd. sells its cars under Nissan, Datsun and Infiniti brands. The brand came into existence in 1933 and has grown by leaps and bounds since then. In 2014, the Japanese automakers became the fourth largest car manufacturer in the US: and in 2018, Nissan became the top manufacturer of electric vehicles with its sales in the second spot, just behind Tesla.
The company name is made up of two Japanese syllables, namely “ni” and “ssan.” Ni in Japanese means the sun and ssan signify births—the birth of the sun. As explained earlier, the letter “N” can depict the power and energy of the sun, and Nissan very well captures the essence through its visual identity.
Founded in 1964 as the Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, the company was destined to achieve great things. Renamed after the Greek goddess of victory in 1971, Nike is one of the largest manufacturers and sellers of athletic products today.
The iconic Nike Swoosh was designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, a design student at Portland State University. Davidson designed one of the most iconic logos in the world for a mere $35. The Nike Swoosh stands for victory, inspiration, hard work, courage, and determination—elements that make sporting legends.
From the energy of the sun to the raw power of the Egyptian god Horus, the letter N has been used by iconic brands to portray a great many things. While it is true that the visual identity of a brand is not the only element that makes a company successful, it surely goes a long way in establishing the brand identity. Well-planned branding strategies have the power to set your brand apart, but in the long run, it is the product and service you sell that matters.
PJ has a background in management consulting and software development. At DesignBro, he combines both. Personal favorite brand of PJ is Jeep.