Good is Real
Recently there has been much excitement surrounding the horrible new Gap logo. Way too many people know about it and have an opinion on it than seems reasonable to me, and enough pressure was created to force the Gap to pull a Tropicana. They even scrapped their feeble attempt at audience involvement by asking the angry crowd to submit logo ideas. 'This logo is terrible, let’s try some design by committee and see how that works out.'
As much as I’d love to rant on about how this is what happens when you design ugly things, I don’t think this is the point to be made here. The problems the Gap is having have nothing to do with their logo. Their issue is with their brand in the proper meaning of the word... their company image. Instead of redefining themselves as a company they just changed the label, even if they had come up with a better looking one, that approach simply doesn't work anymore.
The landscape of the brand is changing.
Effective marketing and design is not created through a spark of genius, it is built, layer upon layer, over time, refined and adjusted, it is grown. And like all things created on a solid and real foundation, this type of branding withstands time and trends.
Recently we were tasked with creating a logo for a client who is launching a new company. Understandably, he wanted to make sure that his new logo would convey everything his company offered and stood for. The problem was that since his company was so new and just launching, he had only the vaguest ideas on what that was.
This isn't a criticism of the client, nor is it a bad place to be. Life moves quickly and unpredictably, and the most successful companies are those who can adjust and grow with the flow.
Where in the past a logo was the receptacle into which all controlled and carefully crafted marketing was poured, now it is simply a supplement to the real brand, which lives in the collective consciousness, and in the ceaseless flow of information available on any company (or individual). This isn't new, PR has always been around, but it was reasonably controllable and heavily managed. This is no longer possible.
Wait, I design logos, why am I shooting myself in the foot?
…because I'm excited about the transformation that is taking place. The traditional layer of ambiguity is being shed from advertising, and it is being replaced by something very close to the truth. This levels the playing field for all companies, allowing those that offer truly valuable products and services to flourish, creating growth based on reality.
My job is much more pleasant, and much more important. It goes beyond designing an attractive logo, to presenting a powerful case detailing the genuine merits of a client's offerings, allowing them to communicate with their customers in a meaningful and impactful way that builds lasting relationships and creates a brand (and bond!) that is felt much deeper.