Let’s preface this by saying that he’s not wrong, he’s just being hyperbolic in pursuit of communicating something important – brand is no longer limited to visual applications.
Sections of Jon Hollamby’s article No one cares about your logo are outlined below in italics with our thoughts throughout.
Somehow companies have gotten into the mind-set that a logo–this thing that does nothing more than identify us–is incredibly important.
But logos on their own actually say nothing. While they can make people aware of your brand and help with discovery and recognition, they can’t tell your customers who you really are, or what you actually care about unless you build meaning into them.
I disagree that logos say nothing. Jon says that a logo can’t tell your customers who you really are, but I think a more honest phrase would be that a logo can’t convince your customer who you really are. Visual choices still do make a difference. There’s a reason that the Dallas Cowboys are silver and blue, and not pink and turquoise. There’s a reason Tesla can’t use Comic Sans and a reason that Build a Bear Workshop can.
Your logo is not your brand. Your brand is the experience your customers have and then tell their friends about. All the design craft in the world can’t make a logo that can convince someone your product or service is great if it isn’t. That’s a job for advertising.
Don’t get me wrong: We still need logos, but it’s nonsense to make a logo the foundation of your brand.
I agree – logos are not foundations. Your visual look is more like clothing, while Jon’s article is a conversation about personality. As a brand, your clothes do matter, but aren’t the whole picture.
The title should be ‘No one cares about your well-tailored suit’. Of course, someone does care, but to make the suit the foundation of a personality would be as backwards as making a logo the foundation of a brand. And this is the quiet truth behind Jon’s hyperbolic criticism of logo designers.
So let’s take some pressure off them, they really don’t need to work so hard. They can put their feet up for a while, while we dig into what makes for a great brand.
Great brands are built from the inside out; they are built around a strong belief system and are driven by values. What your customers experience every time they interact with your company is the brand, not the visual identity. No one cares that your airline logo has been crafted out of unicorn tears and your visual language is AI-generated if their flight keeps getting cancelled or they get involuntarily de-boarded because you overbooked the flight.
This is something I hear across all levels of Magneti – how you behave as an organization is more and more becoming. In this by-gone era of Mad Men advertising tactics, you can’t hide behind a logo, an ad or a flashy corporate lobby. Modern companies now have to interact in an online space, and be more open, vulnerable and transparent about their goals.
This is why Jon is right – focusing on your experiential brand before your visual brand is the right way of producing something cohesive.
So instead of fretting over typefaces and clever negative space logo executions, ask yourself this one question: “Why do I get out of bed every morning and go to work?”
That’s what your brand should be built around. That is what you want your customers to remember and tell their friends about; not your logo.
Take a quick look at Nike. Phil Knight had a vision that if everyone went for a run once a day, the world would be a better place. He believed in that vision so much that he only hired people who shared it. Why? Because if you have a purpose that people can believe in, then you have a product that the people building the brand will advocate for, and you can bet they’ll do a good job of it. The swoosh is just a swoosh; any emotional connection you have to it has nothing to do with the logo itself and everything to do with Knight’s original vision.
Nike’s experiential brand of believing in the power of fitness is what people relate to. But to say that the swoosh is just a swoosh – I wonder if the logo would be as effective as a red octagon. Logos should feel like they grew out of an experiential brand. Not be the foundation.
As a designer, it would be amazing if everyone got excited about kerning, color tetrads, and stroke weight. If you do want to make big organizational goals, talk about goals, talking about purpose – these things can excite your workers and audience much more than explaining why a modern sans serif truly captures a hip modern persona.
The bottom line is, customer experience is more than the product or service and more than the brand. It is every single interaction and touchpoint people have with you, from the person in the call center to the app error message they receive.
I appreciate a well-crafted logo as much as the next person–I just don’t believe it’s that important anymore. I have come to believe in the power of a brand that is built on really solid experiential foundations, not just graphic design.
Remove your logo from your product, your website, your app, and your ads, and your customers should still know it’s you. Give your logo a break and focus on delivering a great customer experience–that’s what will turn your customers into advocates.
Feel free to be excited about your logo. Feel free to get someone whose cared about logos since third grade to make one for you. A logo designer’s craft will help your personas shine more accurately. Jon’s wrong. Some of us really care about your logo. But Jon’s right. People care about what you’re doing more.
Don’t get caught up handing out bits of swag with a new logo on them. Or you run the risk of mistaking the flag for the revolution.
Questions or feedback? We would love to hear from you.