Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The truth behind cliches is... the truth!

"Penny wise, pound foolish"

At least a few times a month I field an inquiry from a business or person regarding our logo design service, only to be told in the same sentence that the prospective client is considering a $29 logo website, or better yet (insert tongue in cheek) a "logo contest". 

Now, almost as frequently, we are contacted from someone who has just received a design from one of these sites, seeking immediate help. 

The thing is, about 100% of the time,  cliches like the one above hold true. Consider any cliche, and then ask yourself: "when doesn't it"?

How about some of the more popular "business" cliches: "you get what you pay for", "too good to be true", "time is money" and "garbage in, garbage out".

Every one of these offers a valuable piece of advice – certainly the people who first spoke them thought so. But then they were repeated, about 20 million times, so clearly a lot of other people agreed.

My point is, the same tired cliche's we've heard all our lives exist because they are true, and we as business owners should heed their advice. The only glitch here is — when it comes to certain items that aren't within our own fields of expertise, including logo design – it's hard to know complete garbage from true quality.

I'm here to help.

Now I've written a couple blogs about what makes great logo design, but I figure "a picture is worth a thousand words", so I will "lead by example".

At the time of writing this, we are in the midst of a logo project put forth by a cutting edge software company in California with the  concept of "connect" as a main element. Since the client understands the value of strong branding, they want a logo that will cast their product as a benchmark in their industry, that is instantly identifiable, unique, clean and simple.

Like "Apple" or "Nike".  Clearly "we have our work cut out for us".

Now, to illustrate the point of what constitutes really bad logo design, I'll use this concept to show some examples of what one "cheap" logo site offers for solutions ($150 to $450, average).
Take a look:

Now to be fair, I  selected these because each offers a generic design solution: a "unique" graphic, a letter as a graphic , and a repeating pattern made from a letter as a graphic.

So what's wrong with any of these designs?  Well, if all you're interested in is a generic representation of your business, with no consideration to brand characteristic, audience or purpose, then the answer is nothing.  Well almost nothing. 

There is the fact that the first design relies largely on color, and is about as generic a concept as you can get for the word "connect". 

The second one lacks any imagination at all, but worse, relies soley on computer effects to give it any character at all. Without the 3-D effects, you just have a fat letter "C" with a circle in the middle. How well is that going to translate on your signs, vehicles, or newspaper ad — "it just won't fly"

In my opinion, the last design is the only one that offers any substantial creative solution, though this  well-overdone "letter-pattern" solution is offers little creativity or brand identity.

So where's our solution? Well, for that you'll have to check back on our site in a few weeks. At the time of this writing we're still exploring design options – about 30 of them now — trying to "hit the nail on the head", as it were.