These days, companies are constantly looking for ways to streamline their business. Cutting costs, downsizing, upselling, “right-sizing”…it’s all part of the big picture. But, what is the big picture? For some, ROI comes to mind, but for others it’s a never-ending onslaught of concentrated marketing efforts to achieve goals. For startups and even established companies, coming up with the bucks for a logo or rebrand campaign prove hard to come by, or better yet, even justify. Especially when companies like Nike get their trademark from a graphic design student for $35. Heck, Twitter bought their logo from istockphoto.com for a mere $15. So, why would Pepsi pay a cool million for their latest redesign in 2008? Or $665,400 being shelled out for the 2012 London Olympics logo? Or 1.8 million by the BBC for their latest look? Don’t worry, your hair should grow back after all that head scratching.
I know someone who can do that for way less.
There will always be someone out there undercutting the competition or practically giving away work for free. When cutting costs, advertising is usually the first to go. Pair this with some logos that didn’t cost much and it all makes perfect sense — Microsoft’s latest logo was created by an in-house design team; Google’s co-founder created theirs on a free program; Coke’s original logo was created by the company’s co-founder and bookkeeper. These are all wildly successful brands, so why pay a ton of money for something that you don’t have to – especially when there is somebody willing to do the work. And we all know somebody who has “played around” with Photoshop.
Business stinks. Let’s redesign.
A lot of companies redesign their logo for good reason. It works out, business picks up, there is a better connection with brand and consumer and all seems right with the world. There are also some head-scratchers out there that are still making our eyes bleed. Did these companies redesign for the right reasons though? Maybe their bucks could have been better spent elsewhere.
Your Logo vs. Branding.
Okay, so you’ve got this snazzy new logo that your in-house designers came up with. Or maybe your brother’s cousin’s former roommate dreamed up your new logo (don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s awesome). Either way, you’re ready for the customers to come crashing through your door, right? Let’s be honest here… how often does this happen? And better yet, why not? Because your logo or “your brand” and “branding” are two totally different things. Well, maybe not totally different, but the overlap is pretty insignificant. Your logo or brand is the face of your company, and your branding efforts are used to tell your story and thus, attract business. They’re two separate things, but they need to work together. I think a lot of people expect too much from their brand and want it to do things that are better left to your branding — like marketing or bigger ideas that gain attention from untapped sources. Gap missed the mark with their (almost) redesign, but maybe their logo wasn’t the problem, and they shouldn’t have changed things in the first place. A lot of companies are successful because their mark conveys a message that their marketing efforts support, therefore creating a greater relationship with their consumers.
Bridging the gap between your brand and branding.
Sure, Nike got a bargain for the swoosh, but they’ve paid millions over time to position themselves as they do. The McDonald’s, Microsofts and Apples of the world have shelled out good money on marketing to grab brand recognition. Most of these companies are very successful, but not because they’ve done it once, but because they continue to market their brand. I mentioned last paragraph about your branding efforts telling your story. That’s just it. Whether it’s a new business or service, a rebrand or redesign, your logo cannot do everything. Your logo plays a big part in the even bigger on-going role, which is to convey your message and be able to tell your story. Theodore Roosevelt summed it up when he said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s not WHAT you do, it’s WHY you do it that draws attention. It’s all about resonating with the end-user. Sometimes this can be achieved very quickly, but most times this is an ongoing effort to keep yourself relevant. It takes years, even decades. After seeing the swoosh for the first time, even Nike CEO Phil Knight didn’t like it, saying he hoped, “It would grow on him.” Well, it’s done more than that. The Nike brand is worth almost $16 billion. The Apple brand worth over $104 billion. Pepsi as a company is worth $255 billion and holds 30% of the total carbonated soft drink market, according to Beverage Digest. Suddenly a million for a logo re-design doesn’t seem so crazy, does it?
Telling your story.
No company is going to turn into Apple overnight. However, with the right efforts your message and story can be heard — and to the right audience. Next time you ask yourself, “What does my company need?” a better question might be, “What does my brand need?” Big bucks or not and with plenty of means to get the message out (print, digital, social media, etc.), there are ways to tell your company’s story and be effective. The only other question to ask is, “Where should my bucks go? My brand or my branding?”