Branding Design as Envisioned by Sci-Fi

Speculative Identities is a site run by Roger Strunk that analyzes and examines the graphic design and UI details of science fictional companies. For example, the myriad corporations that comprise the worlds as seen in Terminator and Total Recall. Here, Speculative Identities explores the design of the brand identity of Tyrell Corporation from the Blade Runner movie.

The Tyrell Corp logo is only seen briefly in the first Blade Runner film, after we’ve already become acquainted with the animal it uses as a symbol — the owl, which makes appearances whenever a meeting with Dr. Eldon Tyrell takes place.

In Philip K Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, it is explained that the owl was the first animal to go extinct, due to the radioactive dust left behind by World War Terminus. In Blade Runner, we can assume the same given Rachel’s response to Deckard’s question as to whether or not it is artificial — to say “of course it is” would imply that there are no real owls left.

It’s interesting what this says about Tyrell, that he would possess an owl, even an artificial one. As Blade Runner producer Michael Deeley has noted, the owl was originally filmed as being real, but in post production they changed this to add “credibility to the idea that Tyrell could manufacture perfect imitations of living things.” And this isn’t just an expensive and exotic pet of his, but a creature with enough symbolic meaning for him to merit it being used in the logo for himself and his corporation — which we can glimpse in a few brief instances, in his scene with Roy Batty, where you can find the logo on the robe Tyrell is wearing. It appears there as a small embroidered patch over the left breast, which carries the monogram owl mark.

So, let’s dig into this a bit. The owl carries multiple symbolic meanings that are worth consideration, as they might pertain to the Tyrell Corp logo.

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