Show me the logo

Posted in Brand on 30 April 2014 By David Hunt, Creative Director

Michelin’s memorable TV adverts from the early 2000s show a customer urging his car salesman for visual assurance that his new motor will be shod with tyres bearing the iconic chubby white character that’s become synonymous with that famous brand.

Show me the logo! Show me the logo!

But, how important is a logo?

When creating a new brand or updating an existing one, it’s easy to become as obsessed as that Michelin fanboy with the logo or, to use the formal parlance, the brand identity. But as we all know, logos are not brands and brands have to be more than their logos.

To illustrate the point, you only have to look at two of the biggest brands in the technology world: Yahoo! and Microsoft, both of whom have refreshed the visual identity in recent years.

For each of the 30 days prior to the launch of their new identity, Yahoo! revealed a logo design that hadn’t made the cut (http://youtube/agRxG-X_TEQ). You could argue that this tactic itself devalued the whole process of creating a new logo and we all started to get a little bored by day 6.

When the identity was revealed, many were a little perplexed by the evolution not revolution approach. The inevitable murmurs of ‘I liked the old one better’ came from several corners. Much debate and commentary followed, which was all great for their profile but it set the conversation topic as the new logo when Yahoo! wanted to tell the world about the innovative things the brand was doing with personalisation, user experience and services - the stuff that actually matters to their customers. But after such a fanfare, the message of innovation was swamped by an underwhelming identity.

But in contrast, Microsoft’s transition from their long standing chunky italics to something decidedly simpler was all suitably low-key. Microsoft seemed to focus more on letting the features, style and experience of its new products do the talking.

Love it or hate it, the vibrantly coloured, customisable, smoothly transitioning, intuitively navigable, revolutionary experience of Windows 8 said much more about Microsoft than their identity did, or possibly could.

So, going back to my original question: how important is a logo?

The answer: it’s vital. The value of a unique marque that identifies you, your products and services is already widely documented. But we all have to look beyond the logo in isolation and think about the bigger picture of brand styling, tone of voice and messaging. Further still, in digital media how the brand moves, what it sounds like and how it interacts with the outside world all have to be considered. Combined, all these factors contribute to delivering an overall brand experience for your audience.

And with brands, as with so many things in life, it’s the experience that counts. 

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