Long gone are the days when Paul Rand showed up at your office with just one logo proposition, and a shiny catalogue -with your brand’s storytelling in it-. If you felt the need for some modifications, he would tap your fingers saying ‘This is my job and this is THE solution for you. I know what I’m doing, I’m the expert here.’
This article’s photo is a logo design I’ve made for a client in the construction field. But the red dot, all the titles and the pic surrounding it wasn’t my design. I don’t want to generalize but most businesses are fighting against simplicity. The more they add the better. Sometimes, as much as you love your clients, you can’t keep them from making modifications. I will talk to you about it but also design’s best practices, cheap solutions/work and the role of designers.
Logo design is complicated, all access to the technology made it so. As a consequence, it often goes wrong or misunderstood. When that happens -mostly based out of cheap work-, most businesses think that there’s nothing to add or change about their logo: ‘Oh we’re good! It’s perfect! Don’t even touch it’. A ‘sane’ designer will never step into your business and start saying: ‘Ok, let’s talk about this logo first…who did it? Seriously? It’s not good. Shall we change it, before doing anything else?’ I bet he/she would never have your business right?
Let me introduce you to the objections that pop into your clients’ mind when you send them ‘change’ alerts:
-Some designers like to throw their peers under many buses, the only reason they need to do this is to find -to their dismay- that somebody gave a concert -and actually got paid- before them. Ego situation.
-We already registered the logo ‘we went through the cumbersome trademarks registration process, and we paid huge amount of money for it. Money we spared from the previous cheap logo work, and which was well invested.’
-What has been done before is not garbage, ‘we’ll stick to this identity no matter what you say. Even if you bring proofs that it’s really NOT working’
-Even if there are some changes to be made, we hope they are going to be small and the work will be cheap. Changing a logo is easier than creating it from the ground up right?
After the concert, you -designer- are hired for another job, maybe the webdesign part. Which is cool. Things get complicated when you start looking for elements -not crafted by you- to incorporate them into your design: fonts, colors, proportions, positions and space etc. This is the moment you start asking ‘Can I get the graphic charter?’…silence in the room, you’ll raise eyebrows and put yourself and your fellow designers in trouble. For a reminder, the graphic charter is a 50 or 60 -sometimes more- pages document which contains every technical parts of your identity. All its rules. For example, black and white visuals. Fashion industry uses a lot of them. For your next ad campaign, will your logo be visible when placed on a black and white photos? Where exactly should you place it? All the answers can be found in the graphic charter.
There’s a war outside still raging: expensive vs cheap logos.
I’m not against cheap solutions. Why investing huge amounts of money and efforts in your identity when you can: do it yourself, watch a tutorial, run google for examples, ask feedback on forums. No need for fancy designers. Again, I totally agree and I know your thoughts:
-Cheap is good, especially when you are just starting your business and you are very busy; you think there are other top priorities investments: equipment, offices, exploitation bills, salaries. Design is a ‘fanciness’ you can’t compromise your business over. Clever Google searches will help you find the next freelancer vying to make the most out of your hard earned money.
-Designers are copying and pasting stuff around and make it looks like it’s total sorcery… come on! This is not as hard as programming a financial app or building a marketing plan or even doing your taxes. It’s just pixels. Cheap service.
-Your audience will easily forgive your amateurish look, because these are your baby steps, everybody starts somewhere. If they are really interested they’ll value what you have to say rather than how your business looks.
-No need for storytelling, because there’s no story yet that matches your logo except the first letter it represents which is the same as your business name’s first one. No designer will come in your office and start opening a PowerPoint presentation which will explain your vision, how it will fly for years/decades to come in your customers mind. The strategy, etc.
-Why bother registering a temporary logo? When you’ll have the budget you’ll do that. First thing first.
-Your website and logo are not linked. This upper left side of your layout is where your logo will stay, you just have to tweak its color a little bit and you’re done. Again the audience will focus on your content, not the design. They’ll skip the logo.
-If you change your identity your audience will get lost and it will have a negative impact on your sales. This is what you’re most afraid of.
I think Design is all about team working. Cheap logos, make the next designer you’ll hire spend more time second guessing the color you’ve used, and then realize that it’s not the same on your business cards – plus I know there are thousands of them left in a box somewhere in your office- , don’t come with a vision, a glimpse of a strategy and a favorable ground for a successful branding. They don’t come along with this graphic charter bible I told you about lately which will solve all your future visual and graphic issues but will also keep you from adding irrelevant elements to your identity. They are doing more damages than good and you’ll feel very limited the day you will want to push all your brand experience further -if there’s any yet-. You’ll start the work all over again, and spend more money in the process.
In conclusion: branding is the bridge between logo design and marketing efficiency. Designers? I see them like conductors: they write the partition that triggers the emotional responses you need from your audience, sit down next to you and nail the brief, work with you to make sure all your modifications are done without drifting you away from your vision, tell you a great story, get in touch with your printer when something goes wrong, talk with the branding experts and marketing team, give you a vision and a competitive edge ahead, make you feel different, are aware of all the possible things you can do with your logo and some that you can’t. What’s designing a logo compared to all this? Just the tip of the iceberg.
Does it make sense? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. Do you consider Design as something fancy or helpful for your business?