Avenue 25 - Advertising and Design

PRINCE, and the history of the Love Symbol.

Lindi Koprivnikar - Art Director Lindi Koprivnikar Art Director

In 1993, much to the dismay of Warner Bros., Prince decided to legally change his name to a symbol with no verbal pronunciation or spelling. Created by Mitch Monson and Liz Luce, the “Love Symbol” was a mashup of male and female sex symbols. Warner Bros. wanted Prince to slow his pace in releasing albums for fear of saturating the market - however, he was unwilling to accommodate their request, so he began using his newfound symbol as a way to not only circumvent their suggestion, but to actually increase the pace at which he was releasing albums.

floppyThis also proved to be frustrating for anyone who wanted to speak or write about Prince. So naturally, he had a custom font designed and distributed it to different news outlets on a 3.5” floppy disk. It contained a font with one glyph on it. Basically, "The Prince" font substituted his symbol for what would otherwise be a capital P. You could even download it on CompuServe. Much like a brand guide, it also contained strict instructions on how to install and use the font. Fans were surprised, and people who worked with Prince wondered how it would play out. But sure enough, 6 months later, Rolling Stone Magazine wrote an article about Prince, containing his symbol. Not only was this a way to gauge who respected Prince enough to use his newfound name and who didn’t, but it pushed the envelope in terms of gender pronouns. Being an androgynous person, the symbol clearly meant much more to him than just a negotiating tool. Prince reverted to using his name 7 years later after he was released from his contractual agreements. However, the symbol has remained an integral part of his identity ever since.

What other artist in the history of, well, anything really, could say they’re changing their name to a symbol and everyone would just shrug and say, “sounds good”? None that I can think of. He even has his own color. But that was the amazingness that was Prince. He was a forward-thinker, an eccentric icon with a flair for leadership. It’s only fitting that every time we see that infamous Love Symbol, we think of Prince. Because everything he did, he did with passion and love.