The Essence of an IconObelisk Home
What does Barbie, a coke bottle, aviator sunglasses and the Oscar statue all have in common—they are all icons with enduring, universally recognizable style and a stubborn aversion to change?
Let’s start with Barbie. She is definitely a gal who has stayed true to herself all these years despite the flack about her astonishing proportions. Never one to be a quitter, Barbie has been everything from a secretary to an astronaut, evolving relatively little, but always standing tall and proud. She is a popular today as she was 50 years ago and remains an aspiration to many.
The coke bottle has also stayed the course, always fluid, easy on the eyes, tall, dark and handsome. For over 100 years, the perfect “grab and go” curves have remained an unmistakable symbol of American happiness and can-do spirit. First shipped to soldiers during WWII, the cola bottle was a welcoming, reassuring and familiar sight with the added benefit of a pleasant sugar rush. Today, there are only two countries in the world where a coke cannot be sold. North Korea and Cuba. That’s not just marketing, that’s a cult in a bottle.
Our next icon, Aviator sunglasses were first designed as eye protection for fighter pilots because their cumbersome goggles fogged up at high altitude, and their regular sunglasses fell off when they flew upside down. Added trivia bonus–the metal circle at the bridge of the nose of the new and improved Aviator sunglasses was fashioned to hold a cigarette.
Today, generals and movie stars, musicians and soccer moms wear the flattering eyeshades with their hip, retro, military influence. To this day the Ray Ban company only makes two styles of eye wear, the iconic “Aviator” and the equally iconic, “Wayfarer” Ray Ban. That’s company focus with two icons on their hands.
As for the Oscar statue, it doesn’t get much more iconic than this guy. Probably now the most recognize silhouette in the world, George Stanley designed Oscar in 1929. Although it was technically the second Academy Award statue to be created, it is certainly the design that stuck. In 88 years Oscar has never varied–accept for a brief few years during WWII when metal was in short supply and the statues were made of plaster.
The moral of the story… in order for any design to be considered an “icon” it has to have both design strength and staying power. The design must be universal, symbolic, completely authentic and recognizable– so beloved and inspired that people never want to see it changed. That compliment is quite an accomplishment.