If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then the measure of a good picture is if it can be understood with not one single word.

Look at the two examples: the new government food “pyramid” and the Cingular cell phone signal strength indicator.

The food pyramid cannot be described or understood without at least 1,000 words. If that’s not enough, you can probably link to a dozen footnotes and references to research reports.

Never has there been a more confusing symbol. It has been described in the media as a cross between a gay rights flag and a health club logo. If people can’t “get it” by looking at it, then 1,000 words won’t help.

The Cingular symbol is four vertical bars, each one longer than the one to the left. Everyone recognizes this immediately as the strength indicator on a cell phone. In their ads, they show four items, each larger than the previous one — people, popcorn boxes, houses, office towers. Each time I see a new commercial, I marvel at their creativity. Sort of a corporate “Where’s Waldo?”

Look at my logos at http://www.prleads.com and http://www.greatteleseminars.com In both cases, the logos give the reader a good idea of what the business does.

A good symbol is like a good joke. If you have to explain it, then it doesn’t work.

Today’s Chipping Point: Does your logo show what you do? Does it do it in a way that is memorable? If it doesn’t send me a note and I’ll put you in touch with my designer.