The insignificance of a logo

A logo is something most business owners or heads of marketing really faff over. They become obsessive about it. It is the emblem that shines the light of the business, it is the way consumers can recognise them and connect with them. Well, to a point anyway. The way we see it is a logo is something that is required as a way to distinguish from your competitors but the way it does that is not very meaningful and can actually be totally arbitrary. All it needs to be is recognisable. After all, the word branding comes from the stamp farmers would put on their livestock to distinguish them from other farmers livestock. In essence, till today that is all the purpose a logo really serves.

Communication is the real key

The real power of how a brand is distinguished is not from its logo but from all the other communications that surround a business, internally and externally. How the website looks, how staff engage, how the physical space appears, and ultimately the values you stand for. You can’t pack all of that into a few words and possibly a mark (symbol) and expect people to understand it.

Take, for example, the Nike logo, it cost $25 to make. Is the Nike logo worth twenty-five bucks? Of course not. The impressions and perceptions we create about Nike are not communicated by the swoosh. The swoosh is a shorthand to understanding all the communications that Nike push out, the celebrity endorsements, fancy ads and so forth. That is where the communication and impressions are made.

Don’t overthink the logo

The thinking behind the logo, and understanding that clearly allows for powerful brand communication. Don’t expect your logo to do that work. And while we are talking about it, most modern day logos are nothing more than a typeface. Don’t believe me? Walk down a high street and check it out. M&S, John Lewis, Calvin Klein, Next, Zara, Costa, Primark… I could go on and on. The trend of creating a symbol and mark alongside a word mark is no longer popular, as it doubles the communication battle. You have to get people to understand a symbol alongside the brand name and, unless you have invested a lot of money and made your symbol recognisable, most people will look at your symbol and not know who you are.

Really that is the purpose of the logo. To help people know who you are. They will not know what you stand for, the personality of the brand, how you want to make people feel through the identity. The logo is not expansive enough to communicate that much.