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I'm thinking on a logo for my personal site that is tech/dev oriented and I've been curious about the use of brackets/braces/parens in logos. Most of these special characters have a lot of different meanings depending on the language or context, so I was wondering if there are known general meanings. Some examples and my thoughts:

<brand> // HTML/web related? </brand> // HTML/web related (but different from no slash)? [brand] // typography/design? (brand) // math? modern? {brand} // CSS or web related?

Any help or sources I can look at is greatly appreciated. The subjectiveness of this question and my lack of knowledge in the area makes Googling for information rather difficult.

Update

Here are a bunch of examples I found at random. Some are known companies, some are stock art.

logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo

That last one is extra clever because the symbols make a speaker and sound wave.

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Can you show usage? Off-hand I don't think they mean anything other than to separate the word brand from surrounding text and they all serve essentially the same purpose. –  Scott Apr 11 at 2:15
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They all can ring different meanings at different applications. Most ring web language, while some can pull off the "typography" theme. To me, some could represent focus, separation, identity, precise. It all depends on your application and execution. Better question, what do they mean to you? –  cclark413 Apr 11 at 2:36
    
Thanks for the mention and for your comment! logopond.com/gallery/detail/192246 –  ApplexDesign Jun 24 at 21:43
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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

In all your samples (except perhaps the last one) they simply are a reference to web design/development.

The use is similar to a wrench used in a logo for a mechanic or plumber - it's just what the trade uses so it's included as part of the logo.

Note the word "code" in 99% of your samples, this is what the various brackets refer to.

< > = html with or without the backslash
{ } = CSS, Javascript, PHP, ASP, etc.

Basically, they just mean "code".

Without knowing what you do and do not work on, it may be wise to not use such elements if you are a designer who does not create content for the web. By using these items, many educated consumers will assume you do create web content.

The other items such as braces [ ] or parenthesis ( ) generally don't have a direct connotation of "code" although they are used in server-side scripting and/or javascript/jQuery. So, it could be seen as references to more advanced coding (php, asp, etc.) than simply HTML and CSS.

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Good answer, though braces, square brackets, parentheses, and angle brackets have a use in almost every computer language. –  Alex Blackwood Apr 11 at 4:26
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True. I was generalizing a bit. Most see angle brackets and curly braces as HTML/CSS though they aren't exclusive to those markup languages. –  Scott Apr 11 at 4:40
    
I reread the phrasing of my question after your answer and realized I left out entirely too much context. I know what these symbols mean, and where they're used. I was more asking if there are known special uses or colloquial meanings beyond the common ones. BUT, you answered the question as I typed it, so thanks very much for being thorough. :-) –  lyonsinbeta Apr 11 at 4:52
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As Alex pointed out, I would not necessarily think of CSS if I see { }, since they were introduced way before CSS existed by C and Java. For me, being a programmer, they stand more for "coding" or "programming" than CSS. –  cockypup Apr 11 at 13:33
    
Sheeesh.. okay.. edited to include more than CSS :) –  Scott Apr 11 at 19:14
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They mean whatever you want them to mean. They're just a decorative element. As you state, most of them refer to 'code' of some sort and have been used for the past couple of decades in tech company logos.

In fact, they've been used so much for tech company logos that it might be almost cliche now to use it, so you may want to consider going a different route.

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Agreed, but another option is that since it is so widely used, you could use it as a basis, and make it subtle and abstract. –  Random O'Reilly Apr 11 at 14:16
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My experience is primarily in c++, and a mix of misc. high level languages. I don't do much work with .html or web work. From my experience the first two are the most semantically consistent:

[] An array, generally a collection of items or data structure. This is probably why it was selected by code academy. It implies a collection of type code, without being grossly correct to any syntax.

(stuff I work with) Generally an argument to a function or method signature. You could think of this as 'we work with this!"

** In c++ these would be used to indicate an objects pointer. It might be used to imply the stored address or location, but * this might be more universally understood as a wild card. For instance ./shred* has the connotation of shredding anything you find at your local directory, or where you are now.

{} These brackets usually contain the body of something. Either the class or functions within a class. I would interpret this as 'this is what we do', rather that 'what we work with'.

In all honesty, these subtle connotations, would probably be missed by your general audience, and any usage at all will likely signal the use of code in your work. I liked your question, and thought it would be fun to think through the response. Try not to take these syntactical references too serious.

I hope this helps!

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Curly braces in many programming languages denote a block of code. The practice can be traced back to BCPL, before that you would see stuff like:

Begin
    ...
End

So the braces is a sort of shorthand for lot of code lives here. So it makes sense to say {Code} in some situations.

The less than greater than is derived from SGML and its predecessors. Its denoting a control sequence or structural marker known as a tag. Today it says strongly HTML or XML, in other words web stuff lives here, although it would mean document also.

The first logo is different from the rest. Its a alternative spelling of slashdot. Its a sort of nerd pun. In early days of the graphical web people didn't know how url's were constructed so you needed to read addresses out loud to laypersons, as follows

H T T P Colon Slash Slash W W W dot ... dot com

Slashdot as a name is a pun on top of this. It would ensure you could not easily reach the site when read out loud if you didn't understand what an address was made of. Plus its easy to shorten, and is cryptic still to this day.

Slash alone is a path separator but also a web construct...

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