Seth Godin on Logos, part 2
I hate to keep dwelling on Seth Godin’s opinions about logos, but I think it is important for two reasons. 1. His thoughts represent a common misunderstanding about the value of logos. and 2. He has a huge audience of marketing people. That is the same crowd that designers need to be educating about the value of design. If they are being mislead we need to set the record straight.
Today, Seth talks about the 2012 Olympic logo story that we have all been following and draws some surprising conclusions. Seth is quoted below in bold with my responses below.
The art of picking a logo, even one for the Olympics, has almost nothing to do with taste or back story.
By that rational Seth should be praising the 2012 logo. The reality is that the 2012 logo fails for exactly those reasons: it is distastefully ugly, and it lacks any element that connects it to the event. Seth puts absolutely no importance on a logo being formally appropriate or contextually relevant. That is essentially what Seth is saying when he points to Nike, Starbucks, and Apple as examples of corporations that didn’t have to pay for their logos. To him these logos are just a random image picked by an uninformed employee. Yikes.
A great logo doesn’t mean anything until the brand makes it worth something. That’s why spending $800,000 for a logo is ridiculous.
A good logo connected to a strong company should always be the goal. The companies that are paying $800,000 for a logo are the companies that have millions of dollars riding on their identity and its ability to say the right thing. The companies that can benefit the most from a logo improvement would probably pay more than 100 to 500 times less than $800,000. Logo design should be handled by a professional and there are thousands of terrible examples showing how badly a company can look when they try to design their identity themselves.
Of course, the original Olympics logo meant nothing much when they started.
History proves Seth wrong on this point as a quick Google search would have saved him some embarrassment. Isn’t it common knowledge that each ring represents a different continent? If it were up to Seth the original Olympic comittee would just draw a random abstraction out of a hat.
The iPod didn’t need a logo, where a pair of sneakers or a cup of coffee do.
Apparently since the iPod is type only it doesn’t qualify as a logo in Seth’s world.
If you’re given the task of finding a logo for an organization, your first task should be to try to get someone else to do it.
Why? Because it isn’t worth your time? Because it is too hard and it is better to delegate the tough stuff. I would love some explanation on that statement.
If you fail at that, find an abstract image that is clean and simple and carries very little meaning—until your brand adds that meaning.
Wrong. Find someone who has committed their life to logo design. Pay them and trust that they know more about logos than you.
It’s not a popularity contest. Or a job for a committee. It’s not something where you should run it by a focus group.
Well, that’s true. It also isn’t something that you should do yourself if you don’t know what you are doing.
It’s just a placeholder, a label waiting to earn some meaning.
And if you think your brand’s identity is just a placeholder you will never get taken seriously. If Nike, Starbucks, or Apple treated their logo with such little respect nobody would have ever heard of these companies.