The Koha Logo : Origins and Explanation
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Koha isn't a company - it's very important that you understand this. Koha is a project and a product, but many companies are involved in producing Koha.
When I designed the first Koha logo, Koha was a new product just developing, and we wanted other companies to come on board with the product and the project. I didn't want the koha logo to look like my company logo or the logos of the other participants in the project, so that other companies and libraries would feel comfortable using the Koha logo, and wouldn't get confused with my company (Katipo.co.nz)
The primary purpose of that graphic was to be on the splash page of the Koha programme, (as) we didn't have letterhead, brochures, cards etc.
Starting at the begining: The word Koha is a maori word meaning gift or donation - or perhaps more "giving your specialty to the collective event". Possibly even a sense of quid pro quo. In traditional maori society (and still) you would bring a koha (Contribution) to an event like a funeral or wedding or big meeting, often food or the specialty of your region. When it's your turn to hold an event all your guests will bring a Koha, to ease the burden of catering for a lot of people.
Hopefully you can see why it seemed a good name for an open source project.
A common graphical representation here (New Zealand) is a koru, or fern frond that is starting to unravel. This symbolises (among other things) growth & new life. Another common "new life" symbol is an egg.
So for our new project we made a symbol which is a koru - unfolding fern frond, inside an egg.
The project started here in New Zealand, so as we made things that were meaningful for us, and hoped that they would translate internationally.
The big "egg" logo with text inside didn't however scale that well, and didn't work that well as a printed logo - you had to do full colour printing for the green, and so when the new 2.0 release of the Koha software was coming out, we thought we'd update the logo for use in the software, and use by the various people and organisations that participate in the Koha project.
So we still have the koru and the egg, but reversed. The egg is black and the koru is white, and they are much smaller with more prominence being given to the words. The word "Koha" stays the same, but people can put the tag line words that work best for their situation. Some people want the word "free" others find that it confuses their prospective customers. We have a big contingent from France, so having words in french is appropriate for them.
You might wonder why we don't have a representation of books as a logo. It is interesting but libraries themselves don't want to be constrained into being only about books. So our logo is about growth, and possibilities, and aims to be open and inclusive so that all companies who use and distribute Koha can use it in a way that meets their local requirements, but still maintains a consistent brand.
If you want to know more about Koru and maori iconography, perhaps try a visit to your local library and see if they have a book on maori art.
Download the Logo
New version of the logo as used on the login screen : (I was not able to trace the original file so the font used for the catchphrase, Bitstream Vera Sans, is slightly different)
SVG version suitable for editing in an illustration program like Inkscape: