The Fallacies of logo design

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Designers often come face-to-face with clients who don’t have an idea what their brand strategy is, but know exactly what their brand will achieve in the future. This often leads to an extremely hollow logo design brief, which then results in a lack of understanding and miscommunication. The sad reality is that a new business owner often has a 20-page business plan but no brand strategy and he sure as hell won’t take advice from you. So what now? I’ve listed some points below that you can give such clients before starting the job without losing or annoying them.

The Nike tick means nothing.
Think about it, if you saw the tick for the first time, it would not mean anything to you. In fact, it might as well be hieroglyphics. What makes it so impactful today and the day it was created is the strategy behind it. The Nike logo does not stand by itself – it has a powerful idea behind it.

 

Just because you sell apples does not mean you need apples.
This point works hand-in-hand with the above statement. Making literal and obvious logos shows the company’s lack of creativity and vision. It is also condescending. Just because you sell nappy rash cream does not mean you need to have a red bum as your logo. Think of it this way: Apple computers do not sell apples. There is a bigger idea behind the fruit. Initially, the corporation’s logo was an image of Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. We all know what happened: the apple fell on his head, which led to a great idea or discovery. Over the years, the logo evolved to just the apple, which now represents ideas, innovation and creativity. Hence the payoff line: “Thinking different”.

 

 

You cannot create a brand.
The client needs to understand that going through the process of making the logo and a catchy tag line will not make the brand. Clients make the brand, they create the perceptions that will either live or wither away in the future. So for a client to say “I want a logo that will solve all my issues,” is impossible and unfair. What you are offering is to solve a small part of the brand strategy. That is, of course, if the client has the done their part in sculpturing a strategy to start with.

You can’t say it all in a logo.
The client is often compelled to say it all in the logo, even if it’s not the obvious. Apple’s first logo did just that. The image of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree was far too much, but it was rectified and now it’s perfect. I had a client who started a beauty spa. She wanted the logo to represent serenity and peace. Her idea was to have a waterfall, with trees and a mermaid. As creatives, we can see this is far too much, but a client may see this as common sense.  By showing the client famous examples, I managed to go another route, which eventually lead to a logo that is currently in my portfolio.

So, what’s the difference?
The logo is the face of your business, a visual representation of the business. It is the introduction point where client meets company. The brand plays a more strategic role and hopefully gives the organisation some kind of personality and lifestyle appeal. The brand magnifies what the logo does as what the brand will eventually grow into is up to the consumer.

Conclusion
The logo dilemma will be a problem we’ll have to deal with forever more, but the blame is not all in the hands of the client. In fact, we as the service providers are more at fault. Since we play a small part in the brand-building process, it is extremely important that we have a strong understanding of the strategic process. This will make for better designers and advisers.

Creative Director. Founder of The SA Creatives. Designer, fine artist, writer, photographer & idea hunter. Arch enemy of Powerpoint. @artwelln

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