Logos That Backfire

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Backfires happen, even with the best of intentions. You take a solid branding study, evaluation of the results, the hiring of a great designer, a ton of effort dumped in, and apparently everyone loves the finished logo. But once it goes live, any number of things can happen – and often do. There are widely spread jokes on the Hillary campaign logo – the H with the arrow. That’s a high profile example. So the question becomes, how do I make sure the new logo is free from problems? Honestly, it’s impossible to know completely, even with attorney’s running checks, but here’s some principles that can help keep you from experiencing a good logo that goes bad:

1)Hire a professional with a track record. Sure your high school age nephew knows Photoshop and will do it for free, but please don’t take him up on the offer. You really need someone who understands what great logos accomplish, has experience in graphic design, and can show you a portfolio of designs he or she has created. This isn’t the time to cut corners.

2) Avoid stock logos or logo elements. There are oodles of websites that offer stock elements for logos. Avoid them like the plague! You’re looking for the unique, one-of-a-kind expression of you and your story. You won’t find that in a stock gallery. Plus, most stock logos are like many stock photo libraries – cheesy, outdated, and way over the top. And just when you select one, you find a dozen others that are identical…and you thought yours was unique?

3) Make sure it’s adaptable. You’ll want your logo on more than your website and business cards. You may put it on coffee mugs, T-shirts, packing labels, notebooks or luggage tags. Make sure it’s simple enough to work anywhere.

4) Don’t be trendy. Styles come and go, but your logo should work for a long time. Don’t jump on a trend bandwagon too quickly and re-design or refresh your logo in a style that will be out of date in a year. Think classic, long lasting, and solid.

5) Get an outsider’s perspective. You’ve been working on it for a long time, so you need objective eyes. Show it to a lot of people – some who know you and some who don’t. Be sure there’s not some other image in the negative space or elsewhere that says something else. You don’t want to be embarrassed. This link to logos gone bad has some great examples.

6) Finally, remember your logo is not your brand – it’s only a visual expression of your brand. Your brand is perception. It’s the story that surrounds who you are and what you do. It’s a promise to your customers and donors. Your logo is the visual expression of that story. So make sure you go through a proper branding process before you launch a new logo. If you’d like help, you can email us at BSG.

Remember, if your logo is open to it, people will make fun of it. It can be a fun or funny logo…but only intentionally and only if it advances your cause, not detracts from it.

To your Success…


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