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Logos should be painful.

| April 2, 2010 | Comments (5)

Traffic slowed to a stop as the light turned red. I happened to glance down at the car in front of me license plate. It read, “logos4U”. I had to do a double take; did it really say that? I was stunned. Why have it on your license plate? Did he/she love logos? Did he/she do logos? There was no phone number? Are we meant to follow him/her if we need a logo? Should we honk if we want or love logos?

What exactly are logos? The definition on wikipedia of a logo is:

a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization
(a logotype or wordmark).

We are seeing now low cost logos, ones you can window shop for or ones that you give them “your size” online and they will send you options and you can pick one.

It seems only natural for this to occur. Branding has emerged as a relevant participant in the success of a company. We are always seeking to streamline processes, to be more efficient, to be faster, and to save cost. It is only natural to try to capture the process and make it like a McDonalds. It is better to get something than nothing at all. After all, developing a logo wont save a company from failure…or will it?

Creating logos are hard, if someone tells you they are easy, then you are settling for an icon not a logo for your company. Technology has made them seem easy. Anyone who knows a vector-based program can create a logo. Right? In one sense, according to the definition of a logo, then yes maybe that is true. But will it be the right logo for your company? The creative process is continually shifting and difficult to replicate, because it’s based on thought, inspiration and hard work. The problem is not the elements that make up the creative process but often times the time involved and the order of the elements involved.

Developing a logo or redesigning a logo is an opportunity to take a course heading of your business. It is an opportunity to seek clarity of your business strategy, a time to acknowledge your strengths, your weaknesses, your products, your culture, your audiences, and your internal and external messages. It is an opportunity to think and act instead of reacting. In today’s fast paced, task-driven business environment, taking the opportunity to think, seems obvious, but rare. Creating or refreshing your brand/identity gives you that opportunity.

Here are a few things to remember:

Respect the process. Allow for the necessary amount of time. Don’t rush it or change it, you most likely will be disappointed in the results. There are ways to make up for any extreme schedules on the implementation side of design. Like a pie or cake it needs time to bake and cool, before you eat it.

Trust is an important factor in developing an identity. Set schedules. Determine before hand what are the criteria by which you will evaluate the logos…subjectively as well as objectively. Who are the decision makers? Be honest. Make sure they are included in the process. Make sure the creative team is hearing you.

Your creative team cannot read your mind. Don’t hold back. A designer sifts through information, connecting things often times through a non-linear manner. The more information and insight you give them about your business strategies, audiences, cultures, features, etc. the better chance of discovery and getting something great.

Innovation requires risk. Decisions by committee often times are the kiss of death. You can’t please everyone. You can’t include everyone. People when asked their opinion, will often seek to change something simply because that is the easiest way to show their value. Make sure they are informed about the process you went through to get where you are. Hiking boots may seem an odd choice unless people understand you just came off a mountain and plan to go back.

Logos are hard and they should be. Don’t sell yourself short, by settling for something that won’t differentiate you from the competition. If you settle, you are saving money in the short term, but losing so much by not doing it right. I also might avoid anyone with a logos4U as a license plate.

5 Responses to “Logos should be painful.”
  1. I saw your post from Bing. I don’t have any useful to add to this. I just placing my post here because when i made my own blog i didn’t see so many comments and thought that people didn’t actually read it. Keep blogging. It’s a good form of expression and knowledge. I see lot of comments to your site so you don’t fit to this category but just a friendly bump post doesn’t hurt. Regards….

  2. Every time I take on a logo project, I know that I am taking on pain. I struggle with them, but I love when all that work, sketching and the absolute agony of the creative process blooms into something that gets me excited! I am glad to hear I’m not the only one who agonizes over branding projects.

    Thanks for this post!

  3. Thank you John, I like your post! very encouraging.

  4. If only the Gap had listened to your solid advice!

  5. avatar Ken Kelleher says:

    It’s very true…It isn’t very often that a logo comes easy, and often, in the middle of the project I start to think, can this be done? Another difficulty with logos is when you know you have a breakthrough round or group of logos and the client doesn’t end up feeling the same way, and then again, back to the drawing board.

    Also, some of the ones that have been along the longest, or are esteemed the highest, can be very simple, timeless forms. Then the question is, how do I create another form, just as timeless, as well as, how do I create this form from a unique place of origin or inspiration and not be influenced by the ones that have gone before or are around me now.

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