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Trees and Logos

Tony Webster
WikiMedia Commons

I bet you can identify these logos: the swoosh, the golden arches, the apple with a missing bite.

Organizations chose logo images that associate their group with qualities like strength, longevity, comfort and inspiration.

That's where trees come in. Marketing experts have long recognized the positive relationships people have with trees and so trees are depicted on logos for hundreds of products and services.

Some are obvious: The sequoia tree on the U.S. Park Service logo; and a pine tree sandwiched in-between the U.S. Forest Service’s initials.

Some lean into tree’s symbolism, like the Timberland Bank in Washington State, which displays a cross-section of a tree trunk, inviting us to connect their tree logo and the potential for wise investments for the long term.

And there are educational institutions, such as Stanford University, that draw on trees as symbols for knowledge, and to encourage students to branch out as they gain higher learning.

Health-related companies, like The Cigna Group, link their medical insurance services to the healthy, calming presence of trees, while the logo of the upscale hotel chain, The Four Seasons, uses an elegant tree silhouette to convey a sense of prosperity through its image.

So, what do all of these logos tell us about our relationships to trees? That even the simple image of a tree can give us good feelings. But a real tree is still better — after all, it’s not trying to sell us anything.

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni is an emeritus professor of both The Evergreen State College and the University of Utah, one of the world’s leading ecologists and a popular science communicator. Dr. Nadkarni’s research and public engagement work is supported by the National Geographic Society and the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. @nalininadkarni
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