I hate to be the one to break the news, but the importance of logos in branding is overblown. Don’t get me wrong, they have their use…somewhat. But when it comes to branding, logos have nothing to do with the establishment of your brand. If you’re about to spend some money having a logo designed, you may want to wait.
We went through this exercise in the office the other day, you may want to try it too. As we were struggling with a logo for a client of ours and discussing the whole logo issue, we named off some of the top brands in the world. Here’s what appeared on our list: Coca Cola, Starbucks, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, McDonalds.
Yes, we could get into the “Which came first, the logo or the brand?” argument, but we’re not going to do that now. Let’s just examine the logos mentioned above.
Nothing but the name of the business, in a unique font. Not fair, you say, Coke’s been around since the 1800’s. Okay.
One of my favorite logos, because it blows logo theory completely out the water. Most people don’t even know what the heck is in the middle of that circle. You don’t need some sort of visual to let people know what your product or service is.
It’s a sea siren, by the way. Starbucks also blows business-naming theory out the water too, but that’s another article on naming a business.
When we discussed Microsoft, two of our three team members couldn’t recall Microsoft having a logo. So much for all the thought and money that went into that four-colored window pane.Again, notice the unique typography.
There is probably not a person in America, and most of the world, who doesn’t know that the Golden Arches belong to McDonald’s. You don’t even have to see the name to know. This logo is the product of early McDonald’s store design. There used to be an arch on either side of a McDonald’s restaurant. From an angle, those arches looked like the letter “M” and thus a logo was born.
Here’s the point: None of these logos really have much meaning behind them. They weren’t necessary in building the brand. And when these logos were created, they had no meaning unless they were attached to the name of the business.
Logos are important after you establish your brand. They have nothing to do with the establishment of your brand. Even then, effective logos don’t need to be these super creative works of art with visualizations of your product or values. That kind of marketing gobbledy-gook is for Madison Avenue over-thinkers. Your logo is better off with just your name, using a unique font presentation.
The importance of logos is overblown, especially if a business is not committed to branding. If you are not going to brand your business first, forget the logo. Branding is about positioning. It’s about living a promise and creating a relationship with your customer. It’s not about graphic design.
A logo is not branding.
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