WHY I HATE LOGOS
When I first started freelancing, I almost exclusively made logos. If anyone needed a logo, I was your girl. It was easy at first, but the more clients I worked with, the more I started to notice a trend. I would ask clients for details about their brand, and most of them didn’t even have a brand plan—they looked at me to develop it for them! As any designer or anyone who has studied marketing knows, the only person who can create your brand is you. So there I was, a baby designer fresh out of college trying to create logos for ideas rather than brands and it was a struggle. I learned the hard way that not all brands are created equal.
Before I jump into my thoughts on logos, let me clear something up. Brand & Brand Identity/Branding are TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS. Brand is an intangible, unquantifiable notion. Seth Godin, best selling author & entrepreneur describes branding this way: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Whereas Brand Identity/Branding is the visual representation of a brand; this is where logos, color, & typography come in.
When I say not all brands are created equal, I mean not all brands are developed at the same pace or with the same knowledge. Very few people who reach out to graphic designers have identified a need, understand how they can fulfill that need, know exactly what they want to sell, know their market landscape, identified their competition, know who their customer is & how to reach their customer…and that’s only about half of the brand development process. Once your brand plan is complete, THEN you can start to reach out to designers. A logo should be one of the last steps in a brand’s development process, but for many people it’s the first.
Let’s look at brand development like buying a house. You identify that you need a new house, do you then call up the first realtor in a Google search result and tell them to send you listings? Probably not. You’ll more likely look at your finances, can you even afford a 10% down payment on anything, is your credit score Great-Excellent? Then you’ll research the housing market to understand what the buying landscape is like, if you can afford a down payment is there a chance you’ll find something in your price range? Then you look into different cities & neighborhoods to choose where you want to move & the price range of houses. Next you may meet with a few banks to discuss your loan eligibility. Once you’ve done all of your research THEN you look into realtors and begin the house hunting process. Why do we spend so much time researching and planning before buying a house? Because it’s a major investment, but shouldn’t your brand be treated the same way?
Your brand is major investment of time & money. Unlike a house, your brand is personal as it is created out of something you’re very passionate about. I believe your brand deserves just a much, if not more research & planning as buying a house. In a time when brands are being cancelled left & right it is very important to understand brand development and how to create a solid plan that will give your brand longevity. Your idea, brainchild, side hustle, nightshift, secondary income, whatever you call it, is a BRAND. Look at the big name products you see on shelves or in commercials within your brand’s space as your competition. You wouldn’t bring a knife to a gun fight, so don’t skip out on brand development because you’re too eager to post your logo on social media.
I hate logos because sometimes they become pseudo incorporation papers, licenses, trademarks, or copyrights. A logo can make you feel like you’re officially a business owner and your brand is tangible, which is a great feeling, but if you have a logo that doesn’t truly represent the brand you want to build, is it really your logo? Don’t rush the process! Take your time to really understand your brand and what it means not only to your customer, but to you. It is not up to a logo nor a designer to create your brand, that task is up to you. Developing your brand is like the honeymoon stage of a relationship, it really is the best part of starting a business.
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