Villing & Company

Your Logo: Love It or Leave It

Did anyone else have a negative reaction to the London Olympics logo?

Every time I saw it, I thought to myself it's really not very appealing and actually made me a bit uneasy. Then I just decided it was probably a British thing. There's a lot of British humor I don't get either.

Those of you who know me, know I am very passionate about branding. And you may have heard me say on occasion that a logo isn't a brand. It's simply a symbol or visual representation of that brand. Not that a logo isn't an important part of the branding process. It just needs to be kept in perspective. What's most important is the strategy, not a tactical execution.

For this reason, unlike many agency types, I rarely go into a new client relationship with the attitude that "the logo's gotta go." Most organizations have a lot of equity in their logo and, however poorly designed it may be, if it is not creating confusion or negativity, a redesign can usually be a discussion for another day.

I still fundamentally believe that. However, a couple of recent articles have given me pause. And that leads me back to the London Olympics logo. A recent Adweek article had this to say about the London logo:

"The London 2012 Olympic logo was all about dissonance, and intentionally so – and was met with a pretty dissonant reaction, too."

That was certainly my reaction – one apparently shared by others. In a way, it is ironic that an event with such an uncomfortable graphic ended up a real "feel good story" on many levels, not the least of which was the impact on the people of Great Britain. By the way, the story went on to talk about how the logo for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics is the polar opposite of London's, describing the 2016 version as "pure flowing joy."

The second article was headlined "Two-Fifths of Americans Don't Trust Companies with Logos They Don't Like."  The story was based on a press release from a supplier of business logos and I can't comment on the reliability of the study. But let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Here's what they reported based on interviews with 2,200 people around the US:

  • Respondents were asked what they thought about companies and brands whose logos they didn't like. 41 percent said they didn't trust those companies.
  • When asked if a logo made a difference as to whether they bought or used that company's products or services, 32 percent said they wouldn't buy from that organization.
  • Asked why they didn't trust these companies, 63% said it was because it made the brand look "cheap" when it had a badly designed logo.
  • On reasons for choosing a new brand, 59 percent said "packaging;" 38 percent said "the logo."
  • And, just by way of an aside, 44 percent said the key to a good logo was "simplicity;" 41 percent thought "color" was most important.

I'm not inclined to change my position on the role of logos based on this second article, which may be a tad self-serving. Still, it raises some thought-worthy questions.

If only the London organizers had had the benefit of this wisdom.

Filed Under: branding

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