Please stop reading and use your precious brain cells for something more productive than a debate about logo design. Please! For the sake of all that is good and decent, stop reading. Go do something that will actually make money for you.
Still reading? Well, you’ve been warned. What follows is an irreverent rant and you’ll probably be offended at some point. The fact is companies spend too much time debating about things that don’t matter, while delaying making decisions that actually move the business. There is no logo in the world that can change the emotional connection between you and your customers. That is set by what customers think about your business, not your logo.
Test 1: Name that company
Can you name this company? I thought I could, until I started searching Google Images for the logo. Fifteen minutes later I discovered it was for the Principal Financial Group as opposed to Prudential Financial. Principal just redesigned their logo last year and spent millions on rebranding commercials. Millions of dollars spent and I still didn’t know their name.
Here is a logo I downloaded from the web for free. No kidding – FREE! For $95 they will customize the logo and make it the same blue in the Principal logo. There is certainly some highly nuanced purpose in the way the “P” starts skinny and gets fat. There was certainly market research and impassioned debate amongst a room full of stakeholders. Guess what – it won’t do a single thing to make me call Principal Financial one second faster than if they had used the free logo.
Test 2: Name that company
OK, here’s another one for you. Whose logo is this? Here’s a hint: it’s the 4th largest cellular carrier in the United States. Do you know what the logo means? Would you care if you did? Does it make you want to switch carriers? Seriously, how much does a logo design influence your choice in carriers? What would make you change carriers?
Test 3: Market Share
Do you know this logo? Probably not, but they are the number 2 domain registrar in the world. You probably know who #1 is without me having to tell you. Think racy Super bowl commercials. Now can you picture their logo? GoDaddy has more than four times the domains under management than the #2 enom, but the GoDaddy logo was designed by a child. You’ve seen the logo. Of course it was designed by a child. After several logo designs were rejected, the designer’s daughter sketched something out on the computer and it became official. But you would be hard pressed to make the argument that the genius of that child catapulted GoDaddy to the world’s largest domain registrar.
Head to Head – Cheap vs. Expensive – Who Wins?
Take the Pepsi Challenge! They spent $1 million changing their logo to a new one that looks almost identical to their prior logo. I never even knew it changed until writing this article. Given a choice, I will always choose Coke, and it has nothing to do with either logo. Oh, by the way, the cost of the Coke logo was zero. The stinkin’ accountant designed it for free. No kidding!
Do you know this logo? If you are part of the 30% of people who search on Bing, then you probably knew right away. We don’t know the cost of the design because it was done in-house. But they changed the logo 3 times in 3 years. That’s a lot of pontification and rigmarole for a company who continually gets clobbered by the behemoth Google. The Google logo was designed by co-founder Sergei Brin on a freeware design program. Over the years they’ve updated the logo – they changed the font! I guess spending more time on the core business than on logo design has paid off for Google.
“Listen, strange women lying in pods distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.” If the BBC had watched Monty Python’s Holy Grail, they probably would never have spent $1.8 million of the people’s money redesigning their logo in 1997. British citizens pay an “assessment” that funded the extravagant redesign. All that money and CNN continues to lead the BBC globally despite only paying $2,800 for their logo in 1980.
Then there’s this one. Posten Norge (The Norwegian Post Office) doesn’t have a competitor to compare against. Yes, they are the state-sponsored, state-sanctioned sole provider of postal services in Norway. But that still didn’t stop them from spending $55,000,000 on a rebranding campaign. Count the zeros! That’s $55 million. Were they worried people would move to Sweden to send their mail without the redesign?
In the “You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding” category, we’ve got the BP logo redesign at a cost of $211,000,000. Yes, that’s almost a quarter of a billion dollars. But they had an important mission. The goal of the redesign was to brand BP as a “green” company. Then they spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and the BP CEO publicly complained that the oil spill was keeping him from his yachting. Oops! So much for the lavish “green” rebranding campaign. Exxon, on the other hand, has left their logo unchanged for 45 years while they’ve focused on their business, which produces 28% more than BP.
Logos trigger emotional memory
One of a logo’s roles is to create a mental trigger that gives instant recall of emotions associated with that brand. It’s a great thing if your customers view you favorably. Not so good if you’ve seeded bad memories and emotions with your customer. Neither the Walmart logo nor the Target logo are brilliantly designed. Both are rather basic. But when I see the Walmart logo I’m instantly reminded of crowded isles, dirty stores and employees who hate their jobs. In contrast, the Target logo recalls a much more pleasant experience.
Start with customer service if you want to launch a major rebranding exercise. Find every pain point your customers have and eliminate them. Start your research by leaving your office and getting in the trenches with your customer service team. Sit with them for a day and you’ll learn more than you can fix in 6 months. Instead of fighting in endless meetings about logo designs and font selection, spend that time brainstorming ways of delighting your customers. This will result in the cheapest and most effective rebranding campaign you’ve ever done.
Your next logo design
The gods are smiling on you if your competitors are spending their days debating the redesign of their logo. Don’t follow their lead. Focus on what really matters.
It is rare that we look at a logo and really think it needs to be changed. Sure, there are the rare cases where the logo is exceptionally bad and only those with questionable hygiene defend the design. But if you need a new logo design, we have 2 packages.
The Basic Logo Package ($4,000): We design a logo that will meet all of your needs.
The Deluxe Logo Package ($40,000): You get the same result as the basic package, but we schedule more time for the stupid discussions to let your stakeholders argue about things that don’t matter and won’t change your business.
So, how do you want to rebrand your business?