I recently saw an episode of a video blog on marketing that advocates for logo non-design. That is to say, the hosts of this particular video basically told the audience that designing a logo is fundamentally a waste of time, and that companies tend to obsess too much over trying to develop the “perfect” logo. They advocate that any time spent creating a logo would be better spent actually marketing products and selling services.
However, they don’t suggest that a company should forego a logo altogether. Instead of having something designed and developed, they say the company should just choose a font and type out the company name (though to their credit, they do say to avoid Comic Sans). Voilà: instant logo.
And this is a problem.
The reason this is a problem is that logos are a sticking point for good reason. Logos are important because they are the identifying mark of a company or brand to consumers, and they represent all the thoughts and feelings those consumers have about it. For consumers unfamiliar with a particular company, it is extremely important to make sure that the logo imparts the desired impression so that without knowing anything further, they will be able to form an accurate feeling about that company or brand. Creating a logo that gives the wrong impression is the first step to turning consumers off of a brand.
Now, I’m sure many people that watch this video are probably excited by what the hosts have to say, because they think it means they don’t have to worry about spending money to have a logo developed. This is the audience taking the hosts at their word, and their word is lacking a lot of “except for” and “but not if” information, which is a key part of the logo-development process.
Let’s take a broad overview of the main goals of developing a successful logo. There are a lot of things that go into creating a logo, and believe it or not, it’s not all “make it look good.” When creating a logo, of course you want it to be attractive, but it also has to accomplish several other goals: embody the look and feel of the company; represent the messaging and approach of the company; strike the same tone as the company’s voice; develop a rapport with the audience through impression; and be memorable and recognizable as a brand. Finding solutions to almost all of these points involves an understanding of consumer psychology and behavior. Creating logos is something of a science, and when this process is glossed over, it shows in the end product.
The hosts of the video blog advise people to skip logo development by creating a logo “in about five seconds” in order to jump right into developing marketing strategies and positioning products. This takes the logo out of professional development as described above and puts it directly into the hands of one or a few individuals.
Fonts, by nature, are a fairly non-creative medium for the masses, in that they are pre-made and not easily manipulated by non-professionals. Finding a font and using it for a company logo is the equivalent of searching a stock art website and selecting an image “as is” to use for a logo. It’s very generic and conveys a sense of apathy to the consumer.
Now, the hosts of the blog cite several examples of companies that use successful text-only logos, or wordmarks: Facebook and Google, to name a couple. However, these companies’ wordmarks are custom-created in that they may be based on certain typefaces, but the letterforms have been altered to better reflect the goals of the individual logos. So it’s not bad to use a wordmark, but setting a company name in a pre-made font is not an effective way to create one.
The hosts of this blog (who I am keeping anonymous) seem to have good intentions, but they are a bit misinformed about how much of a role company image (and therefore company logo) has on developing and maintaining a rapport with consumers. But they’re also salesmen, so the focus for them is “sell, sell, sell,”; unfortunately, it’s hard to sell when people don’t know who you are or what you’re about.