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Taking into account mobile devices represent a significant part in today's web traffic: Is it obsolete to use a mouse pointer in a logo of a company?

Some examples:

enter image description here

UPDATE [ADDED REAL EXAMPLE]:

Real example: Simplicar is an automotive e-commerce site for affinity groups just like TrueCar in its early days. It is somehow creative because the mouse pointer replaces the door of the car.

enter image description here

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    If Simplicar's logo did at some point have a pointer on it they learned the mistake and removed it. It's not present on their site or social media logos. – Ryan Sep 19 '16 at 18:56
  • @Ryan Agreed. Nicolas, Is it possible that this logo was used for a particular PR need? Their website's logo does not employ that design. I was able to find it through Google image search but nowhere else. – MonkeyZeus Sep 19 '16 at 20:33
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    @monkeyzeus It is actually the company where I work for. We were forced to remove it because it violates facebook's Ad Guidelines as it portrays nonexistent functionality (ex: a fake "play" button) – Nicolas Garnil Sep 19 '16 at 20:45
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    designbeep.com/2012/10/11/… - there's a whole page full of creative logos featuring cursors here. – Dewi Morgan Sep 20 '16 at 4:20
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Is it obsolete to use a floppy disk to represent a "save"?

Icons and logos don't need to be literal, the important thing is communication. If a mouse pointer conveys the meaning you want it to then there is nothing wrong with it. Even if mobile web browsing is overtaking desktop browsing, very few people will be unfamiliar with a mouse pointer. Maybe in 10 years everything will be touch-screen and mouse pointers will be obsolete, but even then there is a chance that it will be symbolic and understood (à la floppy disk), but now I'm sure it would be understood.

I don't think using a mouse pointer is necessarily a good idea for a logo, but not because it's obsolete. It's an unimaginative, uninteresting cliché—that's not to say it couldn't be used imaginatively, but certainly in the stock examples you post, it isn't exactly inspiring.

  • I just updated my question. Perhaps you can expand your answer commenting on real logo which uses a mouse pointer imaginatively? – Nicolas Garnil Sep 19 '16 at 17:16
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    Nothing much to add really. As I said, there's nothing wrong with it but it's not very interesting (with e-commerce it's probably even more cliché). – Cai Sep 19 '16 at 17:49
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    Agree 100% - But one could think that a simple arrow is outdated and uninteresting/unimaginative...but FedEx used it in a very clever, and I think, impactful way. – BruceWayne Sep 20 '16 at 16:45
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    @BruceWayne a good example of a simple and seemingly uninteresting element being used imaginatively :) – Cai Sep 20 '16 at 16:53
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    I never knew the fed ex logo contained an arrow until now. – jlars62 Sep 20 '16 at 19:42
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Is it bad to use a rotary phone in a logo? Well, no if you are a phone company. But probably yes if you are a cell phone store.

Is it bad to use a turntable in a logo? Well, no if you are a vintage record shop. But probably yes if you sell modern audio equipment.

So, is it bad to use a pointer in a logo? Well, no if you sell mice/pointers. But probably yes if you just use the web as a sales outlet.

For e-commerce, it's difficult to say if a mouse pointer is outdated. There's a fine line between being immediately recognizable and cliché.

As of 2013 more people access the web via mobile devices, so yes the pointer notion is a bit dated. But, as an online company some of the more cliché images offer immediate recognition - globe, pointer, etc. So it's easy to fall back on those. It doesn't make them inherently "bad". It is the overall usage that may be a bit trite or played out.

Look at alternatives for e-commerce on mobile devices... a finger? a cell phone? These clearly don't convey the same message that a pointer does, but they would be more accurate.

I would ask is any indication of the web even necessary??

Look at brick and mortar stores (Target, Wal-Mart, Sears). Do they all include a building in their logo? Of course not. But that's the primary place you go to buy. They don't focus their logo on the sales outlet they focus the logo on the company. And I think that is the primary difference with e-commerce. E-commerce sites are often less experienced and more quickly constructed so less time is taken with what, we as designers may see, as the more important aspects of branding.

A logo should most often reflect the company and possibly a philosophy, not the location. By using a pointer or any "online" indicator the creative possibilities are greatly limited. You tunnel the company into an "online-only" perception and viewers think of the "web" first, then the company second. That is generally not the goal of a logo.

If the online-only store sells, oh, herbal supplements, I'd focus the logo on herbal supplements. Or if it's an online-only pet food company, I'd focus on pet food/supplies for the logo. I would not focus on the fact that it's an online store only.

In the end, it's not inherently bad to use a pointer... it's just a bit lazy.

  • Funnily enough I actually saw a shop logo with a shop in it recently... I don't even remember what the shop sold. – Cai Sep 19 '16 at 20:27
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    I now just really want to make an e-commerce logo with a finger :) – Scott Sep 19 '16 at 21:17
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    @Scott, which finger? – Mark Sep 19 '16 at 21:53
  • That's where the fun lies :) – Scott Sep 19 '16 at 21:55
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Is it a mouse pointer? Or an arrow?

Members of the public may not see a difference, especially since mobile and tablets usually don't have a pointer.

Also, make sure you check copyright on your "pointer". Logos are usually copyrighted, so if you use a "mouse pointer", then try to copyright your logo, and someone like Microsoft decide it closely resembles theirs, you could wind up in court.

My personal preference is not to use computer iconography in logos because: 1. Wider appeal to the general public 2. Potential copyright issue 3. Future alterations

On that third point, consider that logos can change over time, albeit in subtle ways. Think about how your logo might change to reflect company growth, attitude change, etc.

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    I cannot imagine that a mouse pointer shape is copyrightable (Microsoft certainly doesn't have a monopoly on the shape—I'm looking at one right now and I don't use Windows) – Cai Sep 20 '16 at 19:22

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