Brand – Nov, 2020

Logos; a flawed expression of brand

It’s been said many times, ‘democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

It’s flawed but it’s better than anything else. Similarly, a logo marque or a logotype, no matter how beautiful or well crafted, is the worst form of brand identity expression – except in certain situations when there’s no alternative. A brand designer slapping a logo on something is equivalent to an investigative journalist using Google or a cabinet-maker using a claw hammer. It’s crude and lacks finesse and nuance. Simply put, the experience of a brand through logo-only exposure is often unrewarding, lacks meaning and is far from memorable. Think of post match interviews with sports stars in logo soup booths or strips of white out logo marques lined up at the bottom of a magazine page. At best they are a quick reminder of that organisation and make a simple association with the main attraction. That’s the best we can expect from this kind of brand exposure in this context. 

Getting a warm, fuzzy feeling, a real sense of trust, professionalism and understanding and making a truly meaningful connection with a company or organisation is a lot to ask of a logo. Certainly some marques manage it better than others though clearly this must be predicated by significant prior experience and exposure to the brand.

A strong brand identity is a tapestry of contributing components coming together to build a compelling and authentic narrative. A team of contributing players utilised to achieve brand goals. The brand identity toolkit may consist of many things like a logo, colour, palette, guide to the use of language and style, typeface(s) and typographic arrangements, materials, illustrative and photographic style etc etc. These elements and others should emerge from the core idea that espouses the values and virtues of the brand. 

A logo is useful shorthand. A simple and quick expression of the brand. However, a logo should not be used instead of, or as well as, more compelling ways of experiencing the brand. For example, it is rare to see the National Trust oak leaf past the pay threshold on entrance to a Trust place of space. For good reason. You’re there, you know where you are and who’s involved. Much better signifiers for a brand are; friendly gardeners, decent quality materials, considered estate colours, sympathetic and clear interpretation and spectacular buildings, gardens and spaces.

Logos often are much better at ‘who we are’ and far less good at ‘what we are’. Before adding a logo, it’s always worth considering whether it’s already obvious to the audience the ‘who we are’ bit. If that’s plain, are there better ways to articulate the ‘what we stand for’ part. In some cases, though it’s the worst form of brand identity expression, it’s still the best.

To see more of our brand identity work, including many logo marques, please click here.

Posted by Jack Owen