Seth Godin’s Branding and Logo Design Advice
When we Promo Marketing peeps ponder branding and logo design, we often think of baseball pitchers. Some hurlers find themselves fortunate to win many games minus their best stuff because their teammates end up being more competent in slugfests. That is sort of like the relationship between branding and logo design. In other words, a pitcher’s repertoire can serve as the former for this example, in that it need not be absolutely stellar to prove effective. Conversely, though, the potent lineup behind the man on the mound is equivalent to branding, since it must make up for his sketchy performance to claim a victory.
While we will never knock logos, it is clear that they, while important, should prove secondary to branding considerations. Renowned author Seth Godin shares our take on this relationship between symbols and identities in an excerpt from his new book for Quartz at Work. While the beginning of the piece, titled "Does your logo matter?" will resound as a playground for semiotics-infatuated folks, the last two sections provide a tidy marketing interpretation of the “Keep it simple, stupid” advice so readily found in, for example, writing how-to guides. In keeping with our admiration for logos, we hope nobody ever comes to undersell them, as they have a wonderful ability to make us associate an artistic concept with a business and thus compel us to frequent that establishment or call upon its services.
Does your logo matter? https://t.co/RoyA2ShF3y
— Quartz (@qz) November 13, 2018
However, and we would love to hear more from Godin on this, one’s logo is not that person’s brand. We could even go so far as to say that if we were to approach branding and logo design as we would think of a relationship, branding is the dedication that remains when the passion has dipped or fizzled out. Companies can revise their logos all they want and strive to have the identifiers be hip, glitzy, trendy and numerous other adjectives, but what does all that matter if the brand, which Godin defines as “a shorthand for the customer’s expectations,” loses any reliability in the public’s eye?
The answer, obviously, is that a logo, regardless of the stellar team that composes it, cannot make up for a brand’s lack of total immersion in the process of winning and wowing end-users. We have talked about baseball and romantic relationships so far, so let’s make it a trio of comparable subjects by mentioning music. We return to bands and music artists because of their brand, not for their logo. We have addressed how iconic a logo can be within the context of music, but we know that products trump fancy artistic aids.
Godin knows that well, too, saying that “Without a brand, a logo is meaningless.” We know that places often pay a pretty penny to have someone mull over idea after idea to land on a great logo, and we respect both the seekers and the creators, but Godin holds that those who fashion logos should not be overly frequent participants in the overall depiction of a company.
No, you shouldn’t phone it in or be careless. No, you shouldn’t choose a logo that offends or distracts people. Yes, you should pick a logo that works in different sizes in different media.
But mostly, pick a logo, don’t spend a ton of money or have a lot of meetings about it, and keep it for as long as you keep your first name.
If we choose to read between the lines (and why would we not?), branding retains its title as the more vital element in the branding-or-logo-design debate. And, mainly, don't obsess over the design.
We have long heard that “a man is only as good as his word,” but it’s quick hits like Godin’s piece that also remind us that a business is only as good as its branding.