February 19, 2014 Mitchell Derrey

A long-distance road trip can be tedious. Some travelers pass the time by counting out-of-state license plates. Me? I observe and critique the signs, ads and logos that consume the landscape. And I do it uncontrollably. I’m pretty sure many of my design colleagues can relate.

SAIA’s logo has caught my eye for years. Saia is a freight carrier, and their bright red logo adorns many trucks that traverse the interstate. Saia’s logo is strange. Just about every element of the typeface is unbalanced, from the loops to the stems and crossbars. The rounded terminals are awkward, and the downward-facing triangle vainly attempts to center a design that is weighted heavily to the left.

When I first saw this logo, I thought it was a disaster for the reasons I just stated. But it’s grown on me, and I’ve come to love it. In this age of digitally-generated perfection, Saia’s logo stands out by virtue of its hand-drawn innocence. There’s no real symmetry here—no tricky geometry, no shiny reflections, no ubiquitous globe with orbiting swooshes. It’s a logo that says this company has been around for many years. It’s a logo that is imperfect, but it’s entirely authentic. And, that goes a long way these days.