Monday, November 28, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
My last post, cautioning that “modernizing” a logo effectively breaks the association of a logo to a brand, sparked a few follow-on conversations, one of which led me to a better analogy … and being fond of analogies, I had to work through it a bit more:
The analogy is that changing a company’s logo is similar to getting cosmetic surgery to improve your face – to erase blemishes, reshape certain features, and to be more attractive in a general sense.
Plastic surgery can go horribly wrong. A bad surgeon, or even an otherwise good one with a bad plan, can make a person look freakish and bizarre.
Likewise, a bad designer, or a good one with a bad plan, can completely wreck a perfectly serviceable logo.
This can be the consequence of considering a specific feature out of context: a person doesn't like their nose, picks out a better one, and once the surgery has been finished, the "new" nose doesn't look quite right in the context of their "old" face. And so, more and more surgeries are needed to make everything look right, all together - the outcome of which is seldom as effective as starting out with a comprehensive and holistic plan.
But the surgeon makes a good bit of cash, ruining someone's face one piece at a time - and I expect that designers or "image" consultants do the same thing to companies, starting with the logo and, when that doesn't work, moving on to other little changes in hopes that it will somehow come together and end up looking good ... or perhaps, not caring about the outcome, just the revenue they will earn along the way.
Even if the surgery goes well and the final effect is not monstrous, or even quite stunning, any change in a person’s face causes other people to fail to recognize them. Even little changes can break recognition, as different people focus on different features when they form the holistic "gestalt" of a person's identity. Lose a little weight, get a tan, shave your moustache (or grow one), or even change your hairstyle and people who have known you for years will remark “I didn’t recognize you.”
Regardless of whether they didn’t recognize you because you look so much better, or so much worse, the fact remains that they didn’t recognize you – didn’t associate the face they saw to the person they knew. Likewise, a change in logo causes customers to fail to recognize a brand with which they are familiar.
For a brand, this can be devastating – consider the (admittedly shopworn) example of Tropicana, whose sales plummeted when they change their logo and packaging. Aesthetically, most agreed the new design was better and more modern, but functionally, people no longer recognized the "improved" look of the brand as the brand they knew, and decided to try a different brand.
Cosmetic surgery is undeniably beneficial is when a person’s facial features are so disfigured that they are utterly repulsive. If your lazy eye, crooked mouth, or misshapen nose is the first thing people notice, and they avoid making eye contact because of it, then there's a good reason to change it, even though that means people will not recognize you and will have to "learn" your new face. Alternately, when a person gets so much media attention that they are recognized, and hated, on sight, it would be better to put on a permanent mask to hide their identity. In such instances, any change is for the better, and the individual would be well served to completely abandon their previous identity and start over with a different face, maybe a different name.
Company regrinds fall into the same category: when a brand’s reputation is utterly ruined, a new logo and even a new name is a quicker path to recovery than trying to salvage their reputation. But unless that’s the case, there’s much more to be lost than gained by a logo change.
This considered, a brand manager would do well to react to a designer who quickly proposes a logo change in the very same manner that a person might react to a stranger who tells you that “you ought to get a nose-job.”
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
- A mining company that wishes to improve public perception might associate itself with a charitable event that raises money for an environmental cause
- A manufacturer of automotive parts would want its logo on the fender of a vehicle that does well at NASCAR events
- A washing powder brand would want to be associated with an event that raises funds for women's health (sexist, perhaps, but true that women drive brand choice for such products in US households)
- Any product that wishes people to believe it cares about the local market would do well to sponsor a minor-league team or an event benefitting a local charity.