Why is it that when companies come up with truly great brand designs they end up jettisoning them? I’ve mentioned in earlier posts the sad demise of the police pillar or the clunky milk drinks dispensers-other sad losses include the Shell petrol pump heads.
Perhaps the most missed design logo for me is the head of the god, Mercury-the winged god of speed- which was the logo that the National Garages used in the 1960s. There was a National garage which was located adjacent to the back of The Store (St Cuthberts Cooperative) at Oxgangs Road North.
It’s a fabulous piece of design in blue, white and yellow sometimes set against a white background. The design is of the winged god Mercury’s head. The style resembles the 1920s Art Deco style in some respects and yet is a linear style with straight lines and sharp angles. It's futuristic too-today it could almost be Brad or Sir Chris' helmets!
It replaced the earlier and more obvious Mercury figure who featured as a more human form with a winged helmet-those of a certain age will recall from DC Comics, the original Flash-Mercury looked like him or vice versa, but without the costume! I suspect the Flash may well have been based on or at least influenced by the earlier Mercury figure.
Originally these logos were used by National Benzole Company for paraffin oil, with petrol coming along at a later date. However, my Mercury figure featured a less obvious design and was a piece of art; and art it certainly was-there was a Picasso or Braque dimension in that the linear/angular style had a slightly Cubist dimension to it too.It’s a lovely and very attractive design which whenever I see it immediately takes me back to the late 1960s when we used to work at the petrol pumps at the garage.
|Ali Douglas; Iain Hoffmann; and Peter Hoffmann circa 1971|
On one of the summers plastic badges featuring the Mercury logo were gifted free to customers-I bought one on eBay a few years ago; I’ve also got a rather attractive plastic Mercury logo petrol pump head.
The logo reappeared decades later and was used by Scottish Fuels into the early 2000s-they didn’t have many garages, but there was one at Lochcarron in remote Wester Ross-whenever I was working there it would give me a wee hint of pleasure when it came into view-it always transported me back over forty years to working at Campbells, National Garage, Oxgangs Road North.