Is the logo officially dead?

by Craig McBreen · 61 comments · Branding


Months ago, Marcus Sheridan wrote a stellar post about personal branding.

The topic of logo design came up. And there was some question on the relevancy of logos and if they’re even necessary.

This was November, 2011 and to be 100% honest, I’ve kinda changed my tune on this issue.

Considering that visual branding solutions is my business, you might be surprised to read that I think logos have lost a certain shimmer.

YES logos are an important component of a cohesive brand strategy.

BUT here’s the thing. As companies and organizations shift from more traditional forms of communication to the new, a lone visual symbol becomes less important.

And here’s why I’ve changed my thinking on this.
The small companies I work with are finally starting to embrace new media and content marketing. They’re catching up with larger corporations which have already started shifting from advertising products to telling a story.

The product benefits which used to define major brands are now less important than brand “worlds” which play on emotion. This is why everyone puts Apple up on a branding pedestal. They get it, and “it” is about WAY more than selling computers.

Their story goes beyond, color, typography, and even product. They are selling an experience and the result is one of the most maniacal and loyal fan bases on the planet, where consumers have become brand evangelists.

This is where we begin to see why the company ID has lost it’s significance, and this is now starting to trickle down to the smaller players in my little world.

A logo is still part of a complete branding solution, but in this wild and wonderful new media world things have changed. Standing out involves personality + value, whether you’re Volkswagen or Joe Bob Smith Accounting.

It’s about consistency across the board, from colors to effective content marketing, and it’s about something even more powerful.

Consider the following:
Mercedes-Benz. Try to visualize the logo. Can you see the familiar tristar?

Harley Davidson. What about their logotype? Does an icon pop up in your head?

If you could visualize the Harley logo, well bang-on old chap, but now I suspect you wear a leather jacket on weekends.

I couldn’t. I had to go to their website to see it.

But it doesn’t matter! Why? Because they’ve created a powerful, emotional realm and cult-like following, just like a certain computer company we know.

In fact, weekend warriors and Apple fan-boys alike are singing the praises of their favorite products. The respective brands are the Shiznits, spawning millions of chirpy salespeople and the brand gods are smiling.

If you took away the logo, would you confuse Bad Boy Harley with Honda, Suzuki or even Moto Guzzi? Nuff said, right?

Sure, we’re talking big players here, but small businesses are finally beginning to smell the new media scent drifting into their domain.

Logos are not dead, but they have lost their luster in this newfangled branding model. And this is hitting home, because the actions of the big boys are starting to trickle down to smaller companies, organizations and even individuals I work with.

So, this is less about the death of the logotype and more about a new paradigm which I welcome.

Yes indeed, I do welcome it, but my big question is: Do you?

Drop some wisdom in the comments below and let me know what you think.

Is the logo officially dead?

How do we translate consumer brand experiences to smaller businesses or individuals trying to make it online?

 

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara July 9, 2012 at 7:35 am

Ha, Craig, I own a leather jacket and would dearly love to ride a Harley but ages ago a warrior told me off “Girl, you are too tiny, you could not hold that bike” – buff, up and away went a dream.

I am a visual person (although my strength is my olfactory sense) and therefore I say: the logo is not dead! But like you said it might have shed some of its lustre.

If a logo manages to capture the (emotional) spirit and culture of a company, is it not a double bonus? And what do you make of favicons (have to check out Mercedes and Coco Cola) or what do you feel when it is missing?

Interesting thought and now I have to dash off to check those sites, have a creative week, Craig!
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Craig McBreen July 9, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Hey, Barbara … Man, what a way to extinguish a dream ;) Telling a lady to buff up … ;)

I don’t think it’s dead either, but it has indeed lost a bit of it’s stature.

“If a logo manages to capture the (emotional) spirit and culture of a company, is it not a double bonus?” –Certainly! But that’s a lot of weight to carry. If we are talking ID: When I think of big consumer brands and emotion I think of brand marks, not logos. Nike, Apple, Puma, McDonald’s, etc.

Favicons are one little part of the whole picture, but little things can make a difference, right? I think logos are necessary and they will be for a long time to come, but they just don’t hold the place they used to. It’s a new world out there and kind of fun, me thinks :)

Thanks for stopping by!

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John Falchetto July 9, 2012 at 7:55 am

Hi Buddy

I think it depends what you’re selling. Apple, Mercs, Harley’s are all products, we have no idea who the CEOs of these companies are and the brand is much bigger than one person. They withstand the test of time and keep on trucking even when the founder/CEO dies.

On the other side, as you rightly noted, we are witnessing an explosion of personal brands online. The copywriters, photographers, speakers, coaches are only as big as their personal brand.
For these people to try to imitate Coke or Nike would be ridiculous. For all the small business service providers out there, their face is their logo.
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Craig McBreen July 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Hi John,

Yes, indeed. Those are giant entities and they do certainly withstand the test of time. I highlighted those big brands because everyone knows them and they are doing just about everything right.

Yes, the small guys certainly can’t imitate big consumer brands, but I do think this stuff is finally starting to trickle down to the small B2B companies I work with. They’re paying more attention to content marketing and the big picture when it comes to managing their brand. They are looking beyond the logo and a website.

I completely agree with you on individuals such as copywriters or coaches blogging. The face is the logo AND also the story comes with the unique perspective they bring, based on past life experiences and their expertise.

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Dilly Lachkim July 9, 2012 at 10:56 am

Hi Craig,
I so agree with you. I believe in the power of branding but the field is evolving from a visual immediate message carrier to a living breathing personality. The logo is an important element of the brand but I wouldn’t recommend that an SMB go into the massive investments that were once requisite for “finding” your logo. If you put enough substance behind it, the logo will be associated with that value and not the other way around.
Thanks for saying it out loud.
Dilly

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Craig McBreen July 9, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Dilly,

Yes, indeed. It’s becoming more about experience and even with small businesses, it means much more than a logo or a website.

I’ve spent years designing logos and I still think they’re an important component of an overall visual branding strategy, but there is so much more that now goes with that and a lot of that has to do with story.

“If you put enough substance behind it, the logo will be associated with that value and not the other way around.”
–Perfectly stated. Thanks!

I appreciate you stopping in!

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Carolyn Nicander Mohr July 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

Hi Craig, interesting article. The Wall Street journal did an article a while back showing how companies’ new cutting edge logos were unrecognizable. It contrasted these logos with the classic ones from the 60′s (Don Draper’s days) that are memorable long after the products are gone.

Perhaps the issue isn’t whether logos are dead but that we need to return to recognizable designs?
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Craig McBreen July 9, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Hi Carolyn,

I would love to see that Wall Street Journal article and will try and dig it up. Thanks for mentioning it. There are only so many edges to cut, right? But that is an interesting study. Makes me think of some of the more famous and enduring logos that Milton Glaser and Paul Rand designed:
I Love NY, UPS, IBM … I love NY is a timeless logo.

Very good point. A more distinctive logo is always a good thing, but we’ll never return to the Draper glory days.

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Carolyn @ Wonder of Tech July 10, 2012 at 2:29 am

Excellent examples. I know one example given in the WSJ article was the Land O’ Lakes butter logo. It was a quiz and you had to identify the logos. The older ones were easy but no one got the newer ones.

I couldn’t easily locate the article but I will keep trying. It wasn’t recent, but I can’t remember when I read it.
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 3:27 am

Hi Carolyn,

That’s interesting. I just did a quick search but couldn’t find it. I’ll keep trying. Thanks!

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Ralph July 10, 2012 at 10:18 am

I am keenly interesting in this too. I looked through the blogs section and couldn’t find it. If you do, please post it. Thanks.
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Let me know if it turns up :)

Bill Dorman July 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Stellar? Please………Marcus already has a big enough head, if you feed him now you will never get rid of him………..

And that’s Joe Bob Smith accounting; they do my taxes.

I will concur with you as I was reading this and thinking of some of the ‘big’ brands that you know by name and experience, but maybe not so much so by brand. Of course unless it’s Nike and Coca Cola.

Company advocates can do the job for you, but you have to get your company to the point people will sing your praises. What do you think, think that’s a good plan?
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 1:31 am

Hi Bill,

You and my wife spotted the “Jo” -stake, but I think you beat her to it.

The big brands I mentioned are just a sample, but this is the future of branding and aspects of it will trickle down to the little guy for sure.

If there’s nothing to sing about, no branding strategy in the world is going to work, that’s fo sho. One of the things small companies can do though is turn their employees into big ol’ brand advocates for the co, like a certain Mr. Dorman and Lanier Upshaw.

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Erin Feldman July 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Are logos dead? Maybe, when they don’t add anything of value. My old logo – used with my old name – said nothing about me. My new logo (and new name) is part of my story, and I add to the visual story every month. I don’t know what that means, if anything. I think it just means that I’ve begun to bring together the different parts of who I am and what I like to do. I’m giving form to the content and, for now at least, that form seems to work.
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 1:38 am

Hi Erin,

I can’t remember your old logo, but your new logo is easy to remember, because it is so unique. One of the reasons I don’t have a logo here or for my business (it’s more of a basic logotype) is that I don’t want to get pigeonholed with a certain look or style, plus there’s more branding work vs. the strict graphic design I used to do.

Your new look is great and I think it would be a good model to follow. I really love the way you’ve incorporated your illustrations into your overall brand and created that nice little logo. It’s a great reflection of who you are and your well-rounded experience.

Thanks for popping in!

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Danny Brown July 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm

It boils down to your goals.

Do you want to be recognized for you (I won’t use personal brand as I loathe that term)? If so, your face is your cheque.

Do you want to be known for your ideas? Then the name and content is everything, the face secondary.

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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 1:52 am

Hi Danny,

That’s a good way to look at it. I think with someone blogging as speaker, for example, their face is the ID.

Regardless, I do think the logo has lost its importance and bringing personality and emotion is more important now, especially for individual bloggers.

One of the main reasons I wrote this is because I am starting to notice a shift in the smaller, business to business clients I work with. I always want to focus on content strategy before design, but now with social and inbound marketing finally getting their full attention, it’s not such a tough sell. It just took a while :)

Thanks for stopping by, Sir.

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Danny Brown July 10, 2012 at 1:55 am

Oh, I’m definitely with you on the name versus image-type logo; it’s the reason my own disappeared during the last redesign. :)

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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 3:03 am

Back when I did design only (mainly logo ID :)) I had a certain look and didn’t realize how many clients I probably lost because of it.

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Ralph July 10, 2012 at 10:21 am

Danny, I love your personal brand.
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Craig McBreen August 3, 2012 at 2:12 am

I just caught this … I do too, even though Danny doesn’t like that term ;) He has one of the best out there, honestly.

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Ralph August 3, 2012 at 10:49 am

I just love to tease Danny…..
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Craig McBreen August 3, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Tease away, but he’s one of the best at “firing back” ;)

Mark July 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Interesting article here Craig… Interesting comments too…

Social media has leveled the playing field for small businesses to get their story out to the world. Small businesses, combined with super smart people, have changed marketing and branding forever – even for big brands. They can’t ignore social media anymore.

Effective marketing/ branding is no longer a well crafted one-way message. It’s a two-way conversation wrapped with personalities. As John Falchetto pointed out, the new must have recognizable logo is your face, and that will become more prevalent for big companies as well.

Social media requires active engaged talking faces :)

Personal brands/ small businesses are cutting into the profits of big companies more effectively these days because of social media, and they will continue to do so, even more effectively, in the future as the social web matures.

It’s tough to compare 50 or 100 year old recognizable brands who’ve spent billions building brand recognition with today’s small business owner who has access to multiple media channels for free.

However, if those same companies were started today, I would bet my left (you know what) they would leverage the social web to get their message and story out to the masses.

Geesh, I’m rambling – thanks for getting the juices flowing this Monday!

Oh yeah, the logo… I don’t think the logo is dead. A professional logo still makes an impression on your new customers; a nice one makes a good one, an ugly cheap one makes a bad one, and not having one at all would leave a negative impression I think.

My recommendation to small businesses at this point would be to have a professional logo that best represents your business and get as many faces as you can (owners, employees, customers, potential customers) sharing your story with the world.
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Danny Brown July 10, 2012 at 1:58 am

Hi there mate,

See, I’d question the validity of the face as the logo. Think to Apple, when Steve Jobs was still with us. When there was that citizen journalism story a couple of years back, about Jobs having a heart attack, the Apple share price tumbled like nobody’s business.

That was due to lack of faith that the company could continue without Jobs, because he was Apple and vice versa in the eyes of many.

That’s the danger of having a recognizable figurehead – if he or she goes, so can the clients.

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Mark July 10, 2012 at 3:08 am

That’s a good point Danny. Apple has overcome this though, by innovating the best tech/ user friendly products in the industry.

His face did make did help make that happen, and the culture he’s created has endured his passing; up till’ now at least.

One legitimate question in my mind is can Apple stay at the top without the incredible visionary/ leader that was Steve Jobs?

Time will tell, but for now, they are riding on some incredible momentum.

The lesson, especially for a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company is, don’t create a brand around one face.

I have a ton of thoughts racing through my head…

Do you think these concerns you raise apply to a startup or small business?
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Danny Brown July 10, 2012 at 3:35 am

There does seem to be some questions being raised about Jobs’ successor, and i guess time will tell if the fanbase and product alone can keep them in front.

I think a small business can use a figurehead – but then how does that scale if they want to expand? It’s one of these questions that I think can sometimes raise more questions once it’s answered, mate. :)

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Mark July 10, 2012 at 4:11 am

I’m sure you’d have some good answers for this Danny :)

A figure head is very important for a small business… And I believe an effective saleable social media plan can be achieved for small businesses with a vision to expand; much easier than for a large long standing brand to grasp and initiate a solid social strategy.

Big companies can actually learn a lot from small businesses who are effectively eating at their profits by leveraging the social web.

This is your forte. You’re a big brand marketing expert who understands these mindsets and cultures – with real world experience of leveraging social media to build your personal brand into industry force : )

I appreciate the feedback Danny!

Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Yes, and anyone will Apple stock is keeping a close eye on this ;)

I think a figurehead can be important for a small business, but like you and others have stated, it really depends on what you want to accomplish. If that lone person is 100% invested in the company, this is often the emotion you need for story, which is so important for branding … and sales these days.

And that’s where I’m focusing right now, working with smaller companies to figure out how they can show off what differentiates them and make that content sing.

Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 3:19 am

Ya! Great point about Steve Jobs. When I mentioned customers as brand evangelists I didn’t think about them worshipping the person, Steve Jobs (and many do still, even after his death) … more like worshipping at the altar of Apple as the iconic company.

Apple is a very interesting and special case when looking at it that way, isn’t it? I’m sure taskmaster General Jobs had many contingencies in place and his controlling nature will live on in that co for years to come … ;)

Danny, your point reminds me of a very expensive photo shoot I did for a computer consulting co years ago. Several months after the shoot, two of the executives moved on to other companies. This was when brochures were still king and the client had to reprint. Ouch!

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Ralph July 10, 2012 at 10:28 am

Craig, what’s your opinion on the age-old brochure? This is still a mainstay in the A+D field. I am wondering if the bigger business we chase is even that well tuned in to the options on-line for publications. I found out recently that 70% of visits to Architecture websites is by people looking for employment opportunities. Vast untapped market.

Off topic, sorry.
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

To be perfectly honest, I’m focusing more and more on directing companies to inbound marketing and social media in general, and if they do brochures, they might be more content-rich, like a whitepaper.

But it depends, as certain companies / org’s still need a nice brochure, usually in conjunction with a website of course, and now I almost always create electronic versions of any brochure to post on their sites.

BUT … what is extremely interesting to me is the interactive capabilities of tablets … that’s where the future of the brochure resides, my friend :)

Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 2:10 am

Hi Mark,

Yes … love the comments so far.

You are so right, and like I mentioned to Danny, the smaller clients I work with are finally starting to REALLY focus on these topics and platforms in our initial meetings: Content marketing, branding as story and crafting an effective social media presence.

I like what you wrote about the one-way message, which is old media and goes back to the days when amazing copy paired with an amazing image sent through the right media channels did the job. It is way more complicated now, but it also gives the little guy a better chance, like you stated. It truly has leveled the playing field.

I’m really interested to see what happens in the next few years at my level, which for the moment is small to medium-sized professional services firms, but now is shifting as I get more into social.

You do see the smaller brands chipping away and it’s amazing how a small, nimble player can make a move like never before. Who knows who the next amazing small co. out of nowhere will be?

It is something making that comparison with older brands. Heck, just look back to the late 90′s where co’s were paying tens of thousands of dollars just for naming or logo … talk about dead ;)

I agree with your points and think someone like David Ogilvy would have been all over social. Probably would have made some pioneering moves ;)

I don’t think the logo is dead either, really, there’s just so much more that goes with the program now.

Great recommendation and stellar comments, Sir! Thank you :)

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Mark July 10, 2012 at 3:15 am

Ah, Hi Craig, I didn’t see your message before I replied to Danny. You guys are hard to keep up with!

You’ve got the community thinking and that’s a good thing.

My brain is tired now, I need to rest it – Lol!

I appreciate the exercise : )

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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 3:21 am

I’m tired too, but you guys rock! I love these comments … thanks!

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Shakirah Dawud July 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I agree on the steady trend toward the consistent experience; however, it took decades for brand identities like this to transcend their logos. Granted, that was during a time when we couldn’t make viral videos, but still. I think part of the reason so many small businesses see social media as their ticket is the feeling that we’re able to build a total experience free or cheap via interactive blogs, videos, and websites. But there needs to be a solid carryover of that experience offline as well and most small businesses lack the funds required to make the connection as seamlessly as brands like Apple can. So having a ubiquitous symbol still has its place as customers grow to, as Dilly said, associate the logo with the value.
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 2:18 am

Hi Shakirah,

Apple and Harley are certainly not overnight successes, and they are huge consumer brands that do transcend their logos, but it’s hard to resist bringing them up because they do it so well. I think Mercedes-Benz goes back to the late 1800s ;)

I wrote this piece because many of the smaller businesses I work with are finally engaged and ready to discuss branding as story and how that works in the world of content marketing and social. It is a struggle for them to find the funds AND people to do this, but crafting or rather, tailoring a plan for each business is something I’ll be doing more of.

I think the logo will sick around for sure and is as important as ever for certain companies, but it luster has diminished.

Thanks for the comments and great to see you here!

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Ryan Hanley July 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Craig,

I like the idea of “Brand Worlds”.

Your logo alone doesn’t tell the story. I think this is why logos have moved towards simple and sleek versus complex and defining.

It’s the message behind the Brand and everything the Brand stands for… the “Brand World” that truly matters today.

Great thoughts!!

Ryan H.
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 2:23 am

Hi Ryan,

Me too, and Brand “Worlds” … well, that’s something the two players above do better than just about any consumer brand out there.

Carolyn mentioned how logos don’t have the gravitas they used to, and I think what you stated here is a big part of the reason. The logo used to be king and guys like Paul Rand and Milton Glaser created truly iconic images with their logos.

But now things are drastically different. Like you said, the message behind the brand and everything the brand stands for is what matters. Big brands must have this and now it’s trickling down the the little guy.

Thanks for the comments, Sir!

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Ralph July 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Craig,

Holy smokes. You are busting out here. Nice stuff.

Now, you know I believe everything I read so I am going use a couple of references I know that seemed to make sense to me.

First is “It Starts With Why” where the idea of identity stems from the reason you are doing what you do. If you are a façade then you are a façade and that’s it. No substance and it doesn’t matter what your brand identity is.

Second is “Six Pixels of Separation” in which I noticed a theme of how important it is to keep your brand image consistent so businesses and people (alike) trend toward the recognition of your awesome content. If your message, story or content is always aligned with the brand image over time the recognition of that image will invoke the feeling you expect it to. Apple and Harley are prime examples of that.

Personally, I would say that the brand image and the story work hand in hand; one reinforcing the other. After all, believe it or not, most people will recognize a brand by it’s image and if their story is know it is part of that image.

Even the little guys probably should be consistent.

What do you think of that viewpoint?
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 2:57 am

Hi Ralph,

I say holy smokes to the great comments. Love them so far!

Damn you, Dopping for making me think so hard at 8:00 p.m.

If you have nothing to back up what you are saying, well yessir, that facade will crumble. If they are prattling on with marketing mumbo jumbo without a trace of authenticity, well that shows through rather quickly. Plus a shaky foundation, based on a business plan that doesn’t do a good job of defining core values, strengths and what you truly stand for, well. See what happens, right?

If a client just wants to do a website, it’s often the best medicine to direct them back to their core. Interviewing works wonders and often brings out this essence which is the big part of the message.

Consistency across the board is one of the keys to brand management done right of course, but it’s sometimes difficult to keep these different platforms aligned with a cohesive message, consistent color, image, story. At least in my world this is something clients struggle with. Apple and Harley are the first two co’s I thought of when I was thinking big brand and story. Like you’ve written, “If your message, story or content is always aligned with the brand image over time the recognition of that image will invoke the feeling you expect it to. Apple and Harley are prime examples of that.” But these guys are creating the best evangelists in the world: customers.

Yes, I think an effective visual branding solution combined with story (and now there are so many exciting ways to do that) work hand in hand and one reinforces the other. The big boys mentioned have this mastered, and it’s now an exciting time to see how the little guys embrace the change.

Good grief am I rambling. It’s 8:00 pm and I’ve had a long day ;)

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Ralph July 10, 2012 at 10:40 am

Nicely said.

It is interesting how we see things from our experiences. I am more of a visual guy (i.e. I respond to images better than text) and find imagery, like many, very powerful. Personally speaking, my thought is that a brand can’t be represented ubiquitously across a variety of platforms; print, video, social , etc without having a mark per se. As discussed, if that image is supported by great content, real people and focus it will grow recognition with those that identify with it.

Thanks for making me think about this. Important as i work with our MarComm group to refine our Interior Design niche in the big wheel that is DIALOG (my host firm).

Have an awesome day, bro.
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Image is extremely important and I find imagery extremely powerful too!

I think a brand needs a mark, but it’s just as important to have consistency with color, typography, etc., AND copy, story. To me the initial content outline of a project drives copy of course, but it also lays the foundation for the design flow and how the information will be mapped out on a site or even brochure.

Thank you for the great comments! You’re making me think about some future posts ;)

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Deone Higgs July 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Hi Craig,

I’m with you on this one, logos are far from being dead, in my opinion. While more and more brands may be steering away from using them, it’s those that are still using them that leave a lasting imprint in our minds.

I think John Falchetto said it best, it really depends on what the company or brand is selling, as well as those behind the brand.

It would be crazy for me at this point to get stuck with a logo, not knowing entirely where my brand will take me, or what I’ll be doing with it say, 5 years from now.

So for me, my face is the logo for RMT. The more settled my brand gets, the more I can begin focusing on logos.

Great topic, Craig… good stuff mate! :)
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Hi Deone,

Yes, they are far from dead, but just aren’t as significant as they once were, in my humble opinion.

Yes, John is wise like that ;) Your plan sounds like a good one to me, especially since you’ll be going the speaking route. Stick with the name, the familiar face and the great writing.

Good point about your brand “settling”. I like that.

Thank you, Sir!

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Jill Tooley July 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Craig,

Hmmm…seeing as how my company’s business is putting logos on merchandise, I sincerely hope that isn’t the case! ;)

I see what you mean about the brand recognition portion of it; people don’t necessarily need the logo to differentiate one company from another. However, a logo does help to solidify that company in people’s minds. It’s sort of an ID badge, or an avatar. I was able to picture the Mercedes and Harley logos when you mentioned them (no, I’m not a biker, haha) because I’ve seen them so many times, event though I’ve never purchased anything from either company. In a way, they’ve gotten into my head even though I’m not a customer, and that’s pretty powerful stuff! So, I’d agree that logos aren’t dead, but that they’re evolving as integral parts of a larger marketing strategy. They can’t necessarily stand on their own (unless they belong to huge, long-established companies), but they’re good to have around! :)
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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Hi Jill,

I bet ;) Maybe it will just go from logos on merchandise to faces on everything, huh? Or you might already do that?… ;)

Good for you, being able to picture the Harley logo. And you’re not a biker, really … I never would have guessed ;)

Those two brands do get in your head and they also have the product to back it up. Not 100% certain of Mercedes reliability, but will probably never have to worry about that. But that tristar is about as ubiquitous as they come, isn’t it?

Anyway, you’re right about logos (I think) They are not dead, but they’re a smaller player … and yes, they are good to have around. And mentioning them is sure a great conversation starter.

Thanks!

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Paul Biedermann July 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Interesting post, Craig — you seem to agree that a brand needs a mark. Where we disagree, I think, is that you think they are now less important while I think they are more important than ever.

I won’t repeat what has already been stated here many times — that a brand is more than its logo. Of course it is. However, the brand mark or logo is the one visual identifier that carries through all the different fragments of ones many touch points, and there are more touch points than ever before. From online to offline, from digital to print to experiential, a solid visual identifier is needed to create as cohesive a presence as possible. Social media alone has a slew of touch points with all the different platforms and pages, so this also cries out for a simple identifier that signifies what it is at a glance. Avatars beg for logos, especially when one person is not the face of the company and they appear so tiny as in TweetDeck, Hootsuite and the like.

Somewhere here, the point was also made that after the passing of Steve Jobs, Apple proved that the brand is bigger than the man. True, but I would also say that because of Jobs’ death the Apple logo is even more important now, not less important, as the new “face” of the brand.

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Craig McBreen July 10, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Hi Paul,

Thank you and I appreciate you stopping by!

Great points for sure, but I still think a logotype or mark is less important than it once was. If I’m looking at a large consumer brand or a small business I think there are other ways to visually identify these entities and it’s way easier than it once was with graphic design tools, social media platforms, etc. Logos are obviously an important part of any system and they won’t be going away, but if you think of all the touch points you mentioned, other elements sometimes play a role that’s just as important as a logo. That’s why I mentioned a big brand like Harley.

You sure know how tough it is maintaining a cohesive presence across platforms, but it is an overall picture: Logo, color, typography, tone, then story, etc. I’m really just saying that the once mighty logo ID isn’t as important as it was in the days of say, Paul Rand.

I love the points you brought up regarding social media and company avatars. That might make me eat crow … ;)

You’re sure right about Apple being bigger than the man, but I still think this co. especially is more about emotion and story than anything, even without it’s once fearless leader at the helm.

Great comments, Sir. Thanks for again for stopping in.

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Ameena Falchetto July 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

Interesting post Craig – I feel logos do have a place but with the rise in solopreneurs I think there is a new wave of people who desperately need a BRAND not a logo … when I think and draw personal brands logos rarely, if ever appear … the essence and emotion is so much more than a logo … great food for thought ..
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Craig McBreen July 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Hi Ameena,

Thanks and you’re right. With an individual trying to make it online it’s more about the experience and uniqueness they bring. As several people have mentioned, the overall importance of the logo is a case by case thing. I wouldn’t recommend against one for a solopreneur, but they might do just as well with a clean logotype.

Thanks!

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jayme soulati July 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Oh, boy, I couldn’t disagree more! Not having a logo is like getting a letter without a stamp; it’s necessary — if not for the brand of the company, for the psyche of the founders and employees.

A logo comes from the heart; it imbues your personality, and the colors show your state of mind. I went through a logo/identity project and my mark signifies my offering; the color (one) denotes my spirited approach to business. Did I need that? Nope, but I’ve always had a logo; people would never know what it is, but it’s not for them.

My mid-sized clients require a logo, too; from it flows the brand identity for the collateral, the website and so much more. It’s a mark that you regard your company as significant, sophisticated, important and a player.
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Craig McBreen July 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Hi Jayme,

Thanks for popping in!

You certainly are not alone. But I do still believe a logo is necessary. Heck, it’s part of what I do, but I’m really writing about the diminishing importance of a logo ID.

I would never steer one of my mid-sized B2B clients away from a logo, as it’s a very important part of a cohesive branding strategy, but a solo entrepreneur … well, it might not be my focus. Instead I would work on story and a very consistent visual theme. In this case, a clean logotype would do. It depends on the client, their audience and what they are trying to accomplish.

Thanks.

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Davina K. Brewer July 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Lots of good feedback here, and I’ll agree w/ many others that ‘it depends’ whether or not you’re promoting an individual or branding a company. And I’ll agree with Jayme on Logos – like so many other overlooked components of a basic communications and marketing arsenal – mean business; the lack of which speaks volumes. For small businesses trying to convince paying customers their money is in good hands, it does matter. (See also, having a domain branded email vs. some WeSelzCrap@hotnet.com.)

Now, back to the big brands. Is Apple still giving cute little decals with their products, so people can promote them on their cars and binders and everything else? Think about what that means as a branding agent, as a community builder: you see that logo and you connect – you know you both use, like Apple products. Same with Disney. Then look at the flack the Olympics logo has gotten w/ its terrible design. One more thing: There’s a Logo Challenge app for the iPad, lots of fun. You’d be amazed at how many brands you do recognize. But maybe it’s me, since I’m a design dork too. FWIW.
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Craig McBreen July 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Hi Davina,

Yes, indeed!

Agreed. As a wrote in my response to Jayme, it does depend on the client and what they are trying to accomplish.

“For small businesses trying to convince paying customers their money is in good hands, it does matter.”
–I definitely agree! And there are so many variables with each client … maybe a very basic, clean logotype is best … in other cases, you need to spend much more time on a logo and really flesh out that essence … depends on the client.

“WeSelzCrap@hotnet.com.”
–Ha! That’s some hot-crap alright! ;)

That’s another great point … I didn’t even mention the little decals, but it is interesting how they have created a tribe of devotees and they proudly place those stickers on their cars or whatever. And like everything else Apple does … slick, clean design makes people want to slap those stickers on something.

Thanks and great to see you here!

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Eli@coachdaddyblog July 13, 2012 at 6:39 am

I’ll defer to the sporting world, where logos are switched out in an effort to boost marketing. For teams, the logo represents, today, not the history and tradition and character, but what’s hot today in terms of selling T-shirts and caps.

That said, there’s something to be said of the classic look of the Boston Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. Those standards do not change, and as a result, the logo bears the history and the present day all in one.
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Craig McBreen July 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Hi Eli,

It’s interesting you’ve mentioned the sporting world, and you’re right, some of the most iconic (and most memorable) designs are from the established sports teams.

In addition to the teams you’ve mentioned, I think of the NY Yankees and some of the spartan designs of college football teams, like Michigan and Penn State – that have been around forever – but I love how they maintain the look.

I grew up in Baltimore, MD and have to say I was very happy when the Orioles organization finally decided to ditch the silly cartoon bird. Love their current look.

Thanks for stopping in!

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Ruth Zive August 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Craig, great post! Very provocative.

In my opinion (as a content marketing strategist), the logo is but ONE piece of content. It speaks to brand, impression, corporate personality. It’s a calling card of sorts, and in that sense, it is absolutely important.

I tell my clients that design matters – as long as it is supported by rich, dynamic and meaningful content. I would never recommend a corporate website that was JUST content, with no graphic design or branding.

So a logo works, within the context of a larger content-driven campaign. Perhaps it is less important than it was a few decades ago. But it still has its place, without a doubt!
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Craig McBreen August 3, 2012 at 2:10 am

Hi Ruth,

Thank you!

Agreed, and it does indeed have to accomplish all those tasks. “A calling card” … I like that :)

“– as long as it is supported by rich, dynamic and meaningful content.” You nailed it! I wouldn’t recommend a corporate site with no branding or poorly thought out design, but I would also never recommend they focus on design with copy as an afterthought. Many clients do this and I imagine you have some experience with that attitude, huh?

Thanks for the great comments!

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